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America's Health & Food Crisis

Food:  Most Americans do not eat a healthy diet. Fewer than 1 in 10 adults and adolescents eat enough fruits and vegetables, and 9 in 10 Americans aged 2 years or older consume more than the recommended amount of sodium.7   And what about sugar? In 1822, the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one of today's 12-ounce sodas every 5 days. Now, we consume that much every 7 hours. That's 100 pounds of sugar per year per person.8  Sugar's overconsumption often leads to health problems such as weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.9   A staggering 40% of US adults are obese (93.3 Million People)10  and those individuals are also at additional risk for certain cancers.11  

Lifestyle:  Sleep.  In 2013 the average American slept 6.8 hours per night vs. 1910 when the average was 9.0 hours per night.12   A host of studies and reports have linked insufficient sleep to depression, ADHD, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's. Back in 2014, the CDC labeled sleep deprivation a public health epidemic-with over 70 million adults suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleeplessness is also connected to other severe consequences: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving causes 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries annually in the United States.12  

Sedentary Living.  "Research suggests that only 21 percent of adults are meeting the physical activity guidelines, while less than 5 percent perform 30 minutes of physical activity per day."13  Recent Data examined by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed the vast majority of white adults' daily nonsleeping time was spent in either sedentary behavior (58%) or light-intensity activity (39%), and only 3% in exercise or high intensity activity time.14  And new research has concluded that a sedentary lifestyle is a novel risk factor for cardiometabolic disease and all-cause mortality, independent of time spent in exercise.13  That agrees with another study that shows that long periods of regular sitting, with or without later exercise, is a significant risk factor all by itself.43

Stress:   "…chronic stress is a national epidemic for all genders and ages, particularly those who are 25 to 35 years old."18  Chronic stress makes it hard to sleep well, difficult to lose weight, depresses the immune system, and when ongoing, damages your DNA.18  It also plays a role in headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.19   A special report by Everyday Health found the following:
  • 59 percent of baby boomers have never been diagnosed with a mental health issue; 52 percent of Gen Zers already have been.
  • Just over a third of all respondents say their job or career is a regular source of stress. Among millennials and Gen Zers, the chronically work-stressed rises to 44 percent.
  • More than half of women (51 percent) say they feel bad about their appearance weekly, and 28 percent say their appearance regularly causes them stress.2
  • WebMD went further to report that "Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress."19   A 2012 study found that work related stress can have a harmful effect on critical DNA in our cells. Chronic stress has been shown to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's Disease and is suspected to be driving the female brain towards faster aging-related decline. It's also believed to have a part in vision and hearing loss.24  

    Environment:  Our environment is littered chemically. The US Geological Survey reports some chemicals that we use in our everyday lives including medicines (such as prescription and non-prescription drugs), personal hygiene products (for example, soaps, disinfectants, …) and their chemical additives (such as preservatives) are present in the environment and associated with various sources such as municipal wastewater treatment plants, runoff from urban land surfaces, and septic systems.70  

    That doesn't even address legacy chemicals often found in our environments in the USA & Canada:42
  • Brominated Flame Retardants
  • Chlorinated Naphthalenes
  • Dioxins and Furans
  • Formaldehyde
  • Mercury
  • PCBs
  • Perchlorate
  • Or agricultural run-off including fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones,
    Or indoor air issues like asbestos, or radon gas,
    Or water issues like lead, arsenic, and others.

    Food Contamination:  The FDA asserts "just because a pesticide residue is detected on a fruit or vegetable, that does not mean it is unsafe. Very small amounts of pesticides that may remain in or on fruits, vegetables, grains, and other foods decrease considerably as crops are harvested, transported, exposed to light, washed, prepared and cooked. The presence of a detectible pesticide residue does not mean the residue is at an unsafe level."25  USDA's Pesticide Data Program (PDP) detects residues at levels far lower than those that are considered health risks."25   Sadly, "more than 90% of Americans have pesticides or pesticide byproducts in their bodies." Not surprising since 70% of US produce contains detectible traces of pesticides.26   The danger is not fiction. Several studies show that children of farmworkers routinely endure higher pesticide exposures than consumers and that mothers living close to fields treated with pesticides, including those on the dirty-dozen list, are more likely to have premature babies and children with autism, impaired cognitive function, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
    Three long-term birth cohort studies in the U.S. suggest that pesticides are harming children’s brains. In these studies, researchers found that women’s exposure to pesticides during pregnancy, measured through urine samples, was associated with negative impacts on their children’s IQ and neurobehavioral development, as well as with ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] diagnoses. Also, one of the studies looked at structural brain growth using magnetic resonance imaging and found that the gray matter was thinner in children the higher their mothers’ exposure to organophosphates, which are used widely in pesticides.51   Karen Feldscher, Harvard School of Public Health
    What are the most egregious crops? Strawberries, at the top of the list, routinely test with an average of eight different residues69.
    1. Strawberries
    2. Spinach
    3. Kale
    4. Nectarines
    5. Apples
    6. Grapes
    7. Peaches
    8. Cherries
    9. Pears
    10. Tomatoes
    11. Celery
    12. Potatoes
    Do you eat any of these? Apparently, unless we are eating totally organically, we can only run, not hide. When the 'safety' research is done it's found to be significant when one-half of the test animals die. Does that mean it was safe when only 45% die?44  And that is individual toxin testing. What are the cumulative combined long term effects? Perhaps even more scary: "Only a quarter of the 82,000 chemicals in use in the U.S. have ever been tested for toxicity" reports the National Geographic.45  David Ewing Duncan's article will keep you up at night.


    Accelerated Rates of Childhood Illnesses

    43 Percent of children in the United States have a chronic illness, a percentage that rises to 52% when obesity is included as a disease.

    Food Allergies - Hospitalizations for severe food allergies have increased substantially over the last two decades.20  In the United States, food anaphylaxis admissions as a proportion of all hospital admissions more than doubled in those aged 0–18 between 2000 and 2009.40

    Type 1 Diabetes - Juvenile diabetes has been increasing substantially in the USA and Europe.20  In the USA a recent study shows accelerating incidence at 1.8% and 4.8% for types I and II annually. "Because of the early age of onset and longer diabetes duration, youth are at risk for developing diabetes related complications at a younger age. This profoundly lessens their quality of life, shortens their life expectancy, and increases health care costs."41

    Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Since 1990 IBD has also been on the rise among children.20  Between 2000 and 2009, the number of children hospitalized with IBD in the United States jumped by 64%.42

    Neurodevelopmental Disorders - ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and neurodevelopmental disability. Exposure to certain pesticides during pregnancy is among known risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders, including lower IQ and impaired motor skills. And there was a 42% increase in childhood diagnosis, ages 4 to 14, between 2003 and 2011 alone.20, 39

    Celiac Disease - A study of banked blood since 1974, has found that the presence of antibodies characteristic of celiac disease has doubled every 15 years since that time, 20  a whopping 800% higher incidence today.

    Could food choices, lifestyles, and environmental contaminants be a part of the problem with accelerating (childhood) diseases? Sadly, I am sure of it, and this article describes what happens with individual risks. Imagine their cumulative effects.