Why is American food so unhealthy? I don’t think we should focus on how unhealthy American food is but more on how Americans eat too many damn calories of bad fatty foods. About 25 years ago the average American consumed about 1,850 calories per day. Since then, our daily diet has grown an additional 304 calories and that is equivalent to two cans of soda.
According to the CDC about 68% of Americans are overweight or obese which is an alarming statistic. It is difficult to nearly impossible to become overweight consuming high nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables. Why? Because the calories are too low and it is high in fiber, which makes you eat less food.
Why is American food so unhealthy? Photo credit: iStock-Mizina
An American diet that consists of hamburgers, French fries, pizza, candy, ice cream, cakes is a common western diet, and it is the reason why so many people are obese or overweight. These are all fatty high caloric foods that will increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and high cholesterol levels.
Most people don’t know how to consume fast food within moderation. They don’t understand the 80/20 rule which is eating healthy 80% of the time and indulging 20% of the time.
The average American doesn’t prioritize healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, replacing water with fruit drinks or soda. And the result is an unhealthy body and lower life expectancy because of all the health issues that their unhealthy eating causes.
There was a 12-year study of more than 69,000 women that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the western diet raised the risk of coronary heart disease. There is so much temptation in America when it comes to cravings, sweets, and junk food. It almost like our taste buds gravitate to stuff like that like a magnet.
There are over 170,000 fast food restaurants and over 3 million vending soda machines. So high calories are everywhere near you, and you can’t get away from that intense temptation.
In 1978 the average teenager drank 7 ounces of soda a day and now it is three times that much which is a lot of additional calories. And that is why child obesity is at its peak right now because of bad eating habits and not enough physical activity.
Portion sizes matter because it dictates how much you are eating per meal. And how much you are eating per day whether it is unhealthy or healthy food.
How do you eat healthy?
Half of your plate should be fruit and vegetables and the other half is a whole grain and protein like fish or chicken. One serving would be considered a medium or half cup of fruit and a half cup of green vegetables. A whole grain would be considered wheat bread, wheat pasta, rice, etc.
It is important to understand eating red meat is ok if you do it within moderation.
If you look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid it will show meats, chicken, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. Those are the healthy food staples that should always be in your meals and in addition to those fruits and vegetables.
When Americans can control how much bad food they eat and incorporate some form of physical activity at least 3 days a week then they will be healthier. There is more education now than ever when it comes to nutrition and exercise, and it is near your fingertips with google. So there really is no excuse for being healthy and being able to manage your weight.
“I don’t think we should focus on how unhealthy American food is but more on how Americans eat too many damn calories of bad fatty foods.” Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert Obi Obadike
The Bottom Line is Americans can be healthier by limiting how many calories they consume daily. And limiting all the empty calories and fatty processed foods. Once they do that, they will be healthier and much lighter in weight.
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- Flegal, KM et al. Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008 JAMA. 2010;303(3):235-241.
- Interviews with Melanie Polk, registered dietitian and director of nutrition education for the American Institute of Cancer Research
- Interview with Marion Nestle, Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University
- Fung, T.T. et al. Association between dietary patterns and plasma biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2001. 73:61-67.
- Centers for Disease Control. Overweight. April 2006. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
- Ogden, CL et al. High Body Mass Index for Age Among US Children and Adolescents, 2003-2006. Journal of the American Medical Association. 299(20):2401-2405. May 2008. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/299/20/2401