The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished ... The prevalence of obesity has doubled in 73 countries since 1980, contributing to four million premature deaths
a year after Berkeley’s soda tax took effect in 2015, the city saw a nearly 10 percent drop in purchases of sugary drinks and a nearly 16 percent increase in sales of bottled water ... Last year, voters approved a similar soda tax in San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif., as well as in Boulder, Colo., Cook County, Ill., and Philadelphia. Santa Fe, N.M., and Seattle are considering soda taxes.
The Affordable Care Act of course affected premiums and insurance purchasing. It guaranteed people with pre-existing conditions could buy health coverage and allowed children to stay on parents’ plans until age 26. But the roughly 2,000-page bill also included a host of other provisions that affect the health-related choices of nearly every American.
the United States spends far more on health care than any other developed nation—a record 17.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014—while enduring worse health outcomes. Life expectancy in the U.S. is lower, maternal and infant mortality is higher, and the prevalence of chronic illness is far more common than European countries. But these poor health outcomes can also be connected to another type of spending...social services that target education, housing, nutrition and poverty.
Much has been written about the growing income inequality in the United States. But another kind of gap is also widening between us...at the dinner table. Overall, Americans are eating better... But if you separate people out by income, it’s a different story...almost twice as many people at low incomes have poor diets compared to people at the highest income level... And because in absolute numbers more people are poor now than a decade ago, that effect is even greater than it may at first seem
It turns out that much of what might have been considered normal age-related decline is strongly accelerated by disease and malnutrition early in life, even before birth. Babies of malnourished mothers, even those who received adequate nutrition after birth, are found decades later to have substantially elevated incidences of coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. Survivors of childhood smallpox and whooping cough have generally higher levels of mortality in old age.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it ... This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error.
consumers in Mexico bought an average of 6 percent fewer sugary drinks than would have been expected without the tax, which increased the cost of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages by about 10 percent ... Mexico is one of the world’s top consumers of sugary beverages. The average Mexican drinks 111 liters of sugar-sweetened drinks per year, while the average American drinks 103 liters a year ... Mexico also has the highest prevalence of diabetes among OECD countries,
Nearly every nutrient you can think of has been linked to some health outcome in the peer-reviewed scientific literature ... problems weren’t just statistical. Many of the reported findings were also biologically improbable ... it’s easy to use nutrition surveys to link foods to outcomes, yet it’s difficult to know what these connections mean ... “In this case,” the researchers wrote, “the adage ‘something is better than nothing’ must be changed to ‘something is worse than nothing.’”
extremely sweet or fatty foods captivate the brain's reward circuit in much the same way that cocaine and gambling do ... the brain begins responding to fatty and sugary foods even before they enter our mouth. Merely seeing a desirable item excites the reward circuit ... For some people, palatable foods invoke such a strong response in the brain's reward circuit—and so dramatically alter their biology—that willpower will rarely ... be sufficient to resist eating those foods once they are around