How Western Diets Are Making The World Sick

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    Mar 29, 2011 11:54 PM GMT
    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/24/132745785/how-western-diets-are-making-the-world-sick

    In an essay published last November in Canada's Maisonneuve journal, physician Kevin Patterson described his experiences working as an internist-intensivist at the Canadian Combat Surgical Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

    One detail he noticed: The Afghan soldiers, police and civilians he treated in Kandahar had radically different bodies from those of the Canadians he took care of back home.

    "Typical Afghan civilians and soldiers would have been 140 pounds or so as adults. And when we operated on them, what we were aware of was the absence of any fat or any adipose tissue underneath the skin," Patterson says. "Of course, when we operated on Canadians or Americans or Europeans, what was normal was to have most of the organs encased in fat. It had a visceral potency to it when you could see it directly there."
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    Mar 30, 2011 12:01 AM GMT
    I was just talking about this over the phone with a friend a few minutes ago.
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    Mar 30, 2011 1:37 AM GMT
    Today I started reading Good Calories Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes. Same kind of report on the results of Western diets.
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    Mar 30, 2011 3:13 AM GMT
    Is it fair to call it "Western Diets" though? The article seemed to put the blame more on processed foods, which is not only a western phenomenon.
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    Mar 30, 2011 3:26 AM GMT
    spiffy saidIs it fair to call it "Western Diets" though? The article seemed to put the blame more on processed foods, which is not only a western phenomenon.
    Trivia question: Which country was the first to mass produce processed foods?
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    Mar 30, 2011 3:32 AM GMT
    Read THE FOUR HOUR BODY, great book about the food you eat and exercsie plans.
  • neosyllogy

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    Mar 30, 2011 4:07 AM GMT
    Blah, blah, blah, people are too lazy to take control of their own diet and we're too f'ing apathetic to teach kids how to eat and set an example with healthy food in schools (have you seen the slop they serve them?!).
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    Mar 30, 2011 4:13 AM GMT
    neosyllogy saidBlah, blah, blah, people are too lazy to take control of their own diet and we're too f'ing apathetic to teach kids how to eat and set an example with healthy food in schools (have you seen the slop they serve them?!).


    Part of the problem is defining what's healthy to eat. The guidelines keep changing: http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2010/aug/08/changes-in-dietary-guidelines-largely-ignored-by/ - in some cases radically... and if you do read Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories) - that advice is radically different than what the US Department of Ag recommends.
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    Mar 30, 2011 10:25 AM GMT
    Look at a typical grocery store in a Western society, easily 90% of the food is bad for you. The rule is to only shop the Outer perimeter of a store everything inside that is pure crap.
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    Mar 30, 2011 11:07 AM GMT
    I think it has more to do with affluence than geography.
  • DanOmatic

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    Mar 30, 2011 11:48 AM GMT
    pbsny saidI think it has more to do with affluence than geography.


    That would typically be a logical assumption, but in the United States, obesity is highest among low-income populations. One reason is because bad food is cheap, but the other is because making good nutritional choices requires being well informed, and education is a luxury in our society.

    But yeah, lots of really fat rich folks waddling around here, too.

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    Mar 30, 2011 6:42 PM GMT
    I'm curious if lean Westerners still have fat surrounding their organs. Does that fat react the same way to diet and exercise or is it more persistent once it's there?
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    Mar 30, 2011 9:04 PM GMT
    kandsk saidI'm curious if lean Westerners still have fat surrounding their organs. Does that fat react the same way to diet and exercise or is it more persistent once it's there?
    That's a very good question...
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    Mar 30, 2011 9:08 PM GMT
    kandsk saidI'm curious if lean Westerners still have fat surrounding their organs. Does that fat react the same way to diet and exercise or is it more persistent once it's there?


    Human bodies don't discriminate which fat they will use in general patterns, all fat is fair game. Most of it depends on the particular person.
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    Mar 30, 2011 10:50 PM GMT
    kandsk saidI'm curious if lean Westerners still have fat surrounding their organs. Does that fat react the same way to diet and exercise or is it more persistent once it's there?

    Subcutaneous fat is what is around these organs. It is very persistent. Adipose tissue can not be lost as far as quantifying them. Once it is there, it remains. It can only be lost in a surgical manner. It is possible to reduce the size and volume, which is what happens when you lose weight.

    However, there was an article published a couple of years ago in Cell that said that induced pluripotent stem cells can be created from adipose tissue. That means your fat can be converted into other types of body cells. It also means that embryonic stem cells do not need to be used.

    How cool is that! Your excessive abdominal fat can become muscle!
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    Mar 30, 2011 11:11 PM GMT
    Read this book. Written in the 1930s. Way, way, way... ahead of it's time. I think it's still too far ahead.

    By Weston Price. This will shock you.

    http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/price.htm
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    Mar 30, 2011 11:17 PM GMT
    neosyllogy saidBlah, blah, blah, people are too lazy to take control of their own diet and we're too f'ing apathetic to teach kids how to eat and set an example with healthy food in schools (have you seen the slop they serve them?!).


    You've got a government that pumps processed surplus petroleum, soybean and corn by-products into the schools while also subsidizing those industries with taxpayer money. Those subsidies enable the PR and Marketing arms of processing companies to control the message and push cheap processed calories to the undereducated middle and lower class that don't know any better. And their messages are more powerful than the whimpering, underfunded education system that fails to effectively teach parents and children about healthy eating. Who do you think helps install legislators who'll support education cuts? The same companies. And as someone else pointed out, the FDA/USDA messages keep changing according to the latest "new finding" that these big food corporations can capitalize on.

    Anyone who plays the personal responsibility card on this issue has no clue what they are talking about.
  • xKorix

    Posts: 607

    Mar 30, 2011 11:19 PM GMT
    There's so many things wrong with what we're TOLD to eat daily. Processed grain's marketed as "vital to our health" icon_rolleyes.gif, Low-Fat Foods loaded with sugar and weird chemicals, "Health Foods" with ingredient lists a mile long and of course nobody takes into account the biggest indicator and cause of Obesity, Insulin levels. No, it's still all "blah blah lazy shits eat too many calories".
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    Mar 30, 2011 11:26 PM GMT


    Read.


    Michael.


    Pollan.
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    Mar 31, 2011 6:25 PM GMT
    60isthenew40 saidToday I started reading Good Calories Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes. Same kind of report on the results of Western diets.


    It's a GREAT book. Very thoroughly researched and eloquent. It's definitely a tome, but well worth the time investment to read.

    xKorix said

    There's so many things wrong with what we're TOLD to eat daily. Processed grain's marketed as "vital to our health" , Low-Fat Foods loaded with sugar and weird chemicals, "Health Foods" with ingredient lists a mile long and of course nobody takes into account the biggest indicator and cause of Obesity, Insulin levels. No, it's still all "blah blah lazy shits eat too many calories".



    ^^ This guy gets it. AND he's cute...

    Hi, I'm Jeff icon_redface.gif
  • ConnerHabib

    Posts: 47

    Mar 31, 2011 6:29 PM GMT
    Don't forget to include most supplements (ones not made from real/living food sources) as well as protein shakes and bars in the Western diet. These things are not food and have long-term adverse effects on consumers.
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    Mar 31, 2011 6:35 PM GMT
    Nice link though I felt I knew it already. Still it's great to see these things being brought up on NPR. Plus, the author is not a half bad lookin guy ;)
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    Mar 31, 2011 6:48 PM GMT
    I have experienced one interesting difference between two peoples, Americans and Georgians.

    If I compare the average middle-American with the average urban and relatively well off Georgian, they have a number of things in common:

    - they lead sedentary lives
    - they are religious, marry early, and stop caring about how they look once they marry
    - they eat WAY too many calories for as many different reasons (party, "this is our culture", etc)
    - they consume a lot of excess calories through beverages
    - they have a general adversity towards exercise and drive everywhere no matter how close by their destination is

    Now what's interesting is the way they get fat. Most Georgians end up with huge guts, being generally large, and turn into this almost spherical shape human where the torso carries most if not all fat. They get huge guts and big necks usually, but their arms can retain their tone as if they weren't fat.

    Americans on the other hand, get fat in a different way. They don't end up looking spherical, but are more like cylindrical shaped. The fat ends up on body parts that are not supposed to get fat (in males anyway): fingers, wrists, legs, arms, face. It's like the fat adheres to every single body part... so you can only imagine what the organs must look like.

    The difference in food? The Georgians eat fresh foods from (often) their own farms, or from family in the countryside. Their agriculture hardly uses any pesticides or modified crops, as a legacy from the Soviet past in which they supplied food for much of the USSR, right now they hardly use 25% of all the arable land they have - using pesticides and fertilizers, and hormones and antibiotics for cattle would just add unnecessary cost to the business. Then, they eat lots of flour and fatty meats (the huge chunks of fat on the shashlik "are the best part"), and they wash everything down with copious amounts of wine or beer.

    But, the food is very different from the processed crap the average American picks up at Walmart. Their snacks are also very different, hardly any Snickers bars or the like.

    Both get fat from excessive calorie intake, but the results are very different.

    In a way, I sometimes think that there must be an abundance of female hormones in American food as Americans seem to store body fat in a more "female" way than in this case the Georgians. Not sure at all if that's true, but I might bet $10 on that.
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    Mar 31, 2011 7:07 PM GMT
    Not all western diet is bad - only American and British diets are disgusting - in continental Europe food is very well balanced even in France we eat a lot of greens, vegetables and smaller quantities of meat compared to the US. It's mostly in USA and UK that you get a lot of highly processed food and the whole fast food culture... even supermarkets in UK/USA sell a lot of junk.
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    Mar 31, 2011 7:19 PM GMT
    Tazo995 saidI have experienced one interesting difference between two peoples, Americans and Georgians.

    If I compare the average middle-American with the average urban and relatively well off Georgian, they have a number of things in common:

    - they lead sedentary lives
    - they are religious, marry early, and stop caring about how they look once they marry
    - they eat WAY too many calories for as many different reasons (party, "this is our culture", etc)
    - they consume a lot of excess calories through beverages
    - they have a general adversity towards exercise and drive everywhere no matter how close by their destination is

    Now what's interesting is the way they get fat. Most Georgians end up with huge guts, being generally large, and turn into this almost spherical shape human where the torso carries most if not all fat. They get huge guts and big necks usually, but their arms can retain their tone as if they weren't fat.

    Americans on the other hand, get fat in a different way. They don't end up looking spherical, but are more like cylindrical shaped. The fat ends up on body parts that are not supposed to get fat (in males anyway): fingers, wrists, legs, arms, face. It's like the fat adheres to every single body part... so you can only imagine what the organs must look like.

    The difference in food? The Georgians eat fresh foods from (often) their own farms, or from family in the countryside. Their agriculture hardly uses any pesticides or modified crops, as a legacy from the Soviet past in which they supplied food for much of the USSR, right now they hardly use 25% of all the arable land they have - using pesticides and fertilizers, and hormones and antibiotics for cattle would just add unnecessary cost to the business. Then, they eat lots of flour and fatty meats (the huge chunks of fat on the shashlik "are the best part"), and they wash everything down with copious amounts of wine or beer.

    But, the food is very different from the processed crap the average American picks up at Walmart. Their snacks are also very different, hardly any Snickers bars or the like.

    Both get fat from excessive calorie intake, but the results are very different.

    In a way, I sometimes think that there must be an abundance of female hormones in American food as Americans seem to store body fat in a more "female" way than in this case the Georgians. Not sure at all if that's true, but I might bet $10 on that.


    Reminds me of my family's ancestral diet just 100 years ago in some way. I mean, just plain unhealthy by our nutritional standards, but at least the food was clean. Everything was made of white flour, refined sugar, butter, sour cream etc., fatty sausages and deep fried foods (at home), and my great grandparents and grandparents lived to their 90s! They were strong and probably had some bodyfat but nothing like modern Americans. They burned those calories in the field.

    Makes me think twice about this protein shake I'm drinking. ;)