By Kennedy Shelley
America started radically changing its diet back in the 1970’s and ‘80’s.
Part of this is because of Sen. George McGovern’s creation of national diet standards.
We switched out fat for carbs. And to make this taste better, we started getting more sugar in our diet.
The result was a virtual explosion in obesity.
In the 70s there was only one fat kid in your class. Only 15% of adults were obese then, versus 40% today.
As a result of this data many have made an effort to drop their sugar consumption, (sugar consumption has dropped 25% over the last decade) yet their weight still goes up.
What if what you ate 40 years ago affects you today?
That was the question that Dr. Alex Bentley asked recently in an article in Economics and Human Biology.
His Anthropology Department at the University of Tennessee started looking back at our diets in the 1970s and 80s before the drop in sugar consumption to see if our addiction to soft drinks, tang and Kool-Aid is still affecting us now.
Kids are remarkably adaptable.
As we get older, we notice that if we ate what we ate as a teen we would gain lots of weight and we long for the days when we could eat what we want with relative impunity.
But we were actually setting ourselves up and our waistline today with our sugar consumption as kids.
The team set up a mathematical model to look at past sugar consumption to show what effects it had decades later.
They tested the model using the Center for Disease Control’s database on obesity rates and found that what we ate back then affects us now.
To understand how they came to this conclusion, you need to understand what is called the stochastic process.
It’s a statistical model that allows you to take several variables from the past and test to see if you can find a link to the results today.
It’s a valuable tool for engineers and physicists and now it’s being applied to diet trends.
The data shows that there is a delayed reaction from sugar consumption to obesity.
So while your teen may say “I drank a 2 liter of coke, and a week later I still weigh the same” and that is true, what the teen doesn’t know today is that 30 years from now, he or she created their muffin top they can’t get rid of.
The data shows that introduction of high fructose corn syrup caused a huge spike in overweight Americans. (To learn more about this see this article in Freedom Health News)
People who are 75 today did not grow up in a high sugar world. They didn’t develop the taste for it like people born in the ’60s and ’70s did.
Strangely people at the lower end of the income spectrum were hit particularly hard because sugar became very cheap calories.
The good news is that because we have started changing our way of eating again and lessened our sugar consumption, future generations may have much less obesity than we have right now.