Despite the frenetic pace of the work, farmworkers suffer from what Melissa Kendrick, the head of the Food Bank for Monterey County, calls the “obesity paradox of the poor.”

“They are fat, yes, but they are malnourished because all they are eating is garbage,” she said.

The consumption of cheap, starchy food has been a major contributor to the epidemic of obesity across America. But the rates among farmworkers here are significantly higher: 85 percent are overweight or obese compared with 69 percent nationally.
- Thomas Fuller, In a California Valley, Healthy Food Everywhere but on the Table, Nov. 23, 2016

Urged on by big American food and soft-drink companies, the Trump administration is using the trade talks with Mexico and Canada to try to limit the ability of the pact’s three members — including the United States — to warn consumers about the dangers of junk food, according to confidential documents outlining the American position. ...
Obesity has at least doubled in 73 countries since 1980. Many public health officials, worried about the rapid spread of highly processed foods, have found hope in a new tactic: the use of vivid warnings on foods with high levels of sugar, salt and fat. ...
But the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which is leading the Nafta talks on the American side, is trying to head off the momentum. It is pushing to limit the ability of any Nafta member to require consumer warnings on the front of sugary drinks and fatty packaged foods, according to a draft of the proposal reviewed by The New York Times.

The American provision seeks to prevent any warning symbol, shape or color that “inappropriately denotes that a hazard exists from consumption of the food or nonalcoholic beverages.”

Some experts have likened the fight over food labeling to that over tobacco — and the fierce if ultimately unsuccessful opposition and lobbying that industry waged to prevent the imposition of health warnings on packaging. The Trump administration’s position on food labeling reflects the desires of a broad coalition of soft-drink and packaged-foods manufacturers in the United States.
- AZAM AHMED, MATT RICHTEL and ANDREW JACOBS, In Nafta Talks, U.S. Tries to Limit Junk Food Warning Labels, NYT, MARCH 20, 2018 [See also America’s Health Crisis and the Easterlin Paradox (Chapter 7 of World Happiness Report 2018).]

American adults continue to put on the pounds. New data shows that nearly 40 percent of them were obese in 2015 and 2016, a sharp increase from a decade earlier, federal health officials reported Friday.

The prevalence of severe obesity in American adults is also rising, heightening their risks of developing heart disease, diabetes and various cancers. According to the latest data, published Friday in JAMA, 7.7 percent of American adults were severely obese in the same period.

The data — gathered in a large-scale federal survey that is considered the gold standard for health data — measured trends in obesity from 2015 and 2016 back to 2007 and 2008, when 5.7 percent of American adults were severely obese and 33.7 percent were obese. The survey counted people with a body mass index of 30 or more as obese, and those with a B.M.I. of 40 or more as severely obese.

Public health experts said that they were alarmed by the continuing rise in obesity among adults and by the fact that efforts to educate people about the health risks of a poor diet do not seem to be working. ...
In recent NAFTA negotiations, the Trump administration has proposed rules favored by major food companies that would limit the ability of the United States, Mexico and Canada to require prominent labels on packaged foods warning about the health risks of foods high in sugar and fat. ...
Fast food sales in the United States rose 22.7 percent from 2012 to 2017....
- MATT RICHTEL and ANDREW JACOBS, American Adults Just Keep Getting Fatter, NYT, MARCH 23, 2018

After remaining essentially flat in the 1950s and 1960s, the prevalence of obesity doubled in adults and tripled in children between the 1970s and 2000. ... Nearly four out of 10 adults are obese; for children, it’s nearly two out of 10. Most 2-year-olds today will develop obesity by age 35, according to a recent projection from our colleagues at Harvard. ...
According to the American Diabetes Association, the annual cost of diabetes in 2017 was $327 billion, including $237 billion in direct medical expenditures and $90 billion in reduced worker productivity. (More than 90 percent of diabetes cases are Type 2, which is strongly associated with obesity.) The total impact of obesity and its related complications on the United States’ economic output has been estimated at between 4 and 8 percent of gross domestic product. Even on the lower end, that’s comparable to the 2018 defense budget ($643 billion) and Medicare ($588 billion). ...
Seventy percent of American adults are at least overweight, and body weight is strongly influenced by biology; we can’t blame individuals and expect personal responsibility to solve the problem. Instead, we need the government to pass a suite of policy changes to encourage healthy diets.

Right now the government is doing the opposite. Farm policies have made low-nutritional commodities exceptionally cheap, providing the food industry with enormous incentive to market processed foods comprised mainly of refined grains and added sugars. ... Processed foods are heavily advertised, even in educational materials directed at young children.
- David S. Ludwig and Kenneth S. Rogoff, The Toll of America’s Obesity, NYT, Aug. 9, 2018

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