The Profitable Destruction Of Americans’ Health
Who needs a healthy populace rich in well-being when you can have trillions in annual corporate profits?
The destruction caused by decay is just as catastrophic as the destruction wrought by calamity. The difference is we don’t notice the decay until it’s too late. When a wood-frame house is knocked down by a hurricane, earthquake or bulldozer, we are stunned and mortified by the destruction. But when termites or dry-rot eat away the framing for years until the house collapses, no single event triggers a response: we set aside evidence of the eventual negative consequences and reckon we can deal with it later.
The collapse of Americans’ health has proceeded in much the same fashion. According to Diabetes in 1964: A World Survey, the global rate of diagnosed diabetes in 1964 was estimated to be around 1% to 2%. In the US, 1% of the populace was diagnosed with diabetes (11 diagnosed cases per 1,000 people), and an estimated 8 cases per 1,000 were as yet undiagnosed.
Recall that “Type 1 diabetes is typically found in children and makes up roughly 5% of all diabetes cases. Its cause is unknown. Type 2 diabetes makes up approximately 95% of diabetes cases and is more common in adults.” ( source)
In other words, the vast majority of diabetes cases are caused by lifestyle factors such as diet, fitness and sociological / cultural changes rather than solely by genetics.
Today, 10% of the American populace has been diagnosed with diabetes and another 3-4% or estimated to be undiagnosed. This is an astounding ten-fold increase in diagnosed cases. In raw numbers, there were 2 million diabetics in the US in 1964 when the population was 194 million, and today there are over 37 million diabetics in a population of 330 million.
Today, the global rate of diabetes is around 10%, also roughly ten-fold the 1964 rate. Statistics vary, but Diabetes Rates by Country 2023 lists both the U.S. and China at an 11% rate of diabetes. (As noted, an additional percentage may have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed.)
The number of adult Americans who are prediabetic, i.e. at risk of developing diabetes as a result of metabolic disorders, is estimated to be 38%. So more than half of America’s adult population is diabetic or prediabetic.
The estimated total of diabetics in the US is between 13% and 14%:
We all know what causes metabolic disorders, prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes: being overweight / obese due to a nutrient-poor diet and low level of fitness. Statistically, 13% of Americans were considered obese in 1964 according to this article: US obesity rates have tripled over the last 60 years.
But if you look at TV programs and news reels from the early 60s, most Americans looked like Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in 1964.
The net result of lifestyle and sociological changes since 1964 is almost three-fourths of adult Americans are either overweight or obese, leaving slightly over one-fourth of the population being normal weight.
A great many factors have been implicated in this staggering decline of health–food deserts, the need to work more hours, leaving fewer hours for meal prep, the relentless consolidation of farming, food and meat processing and distribution, and many others–but what we put in our mouths accounts for 70% of the causal factors. A study publish in Nature analyzed the varioue dietary deficiencies’ impact on the rising prevalence of diabetes: Incident type 2 diabetes attributable to suboptimal diet in 184 countries.
“70.3% of the total, were estimated to be due to suboptimal intake of the 11 dietary factors. Excess intake of six harmful dietary factors jointly (refined rice and wheat, processed meats, unprocessed red meat, SSBs, potatoes, fruit juice) contributed a larger proportion of the total global diet-attributable burden (60.8%) than insufficient intake of five protective dietary factors (whole grains, yogurt, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds) (39.2%).”
In other words, consuming highly processed, low-nutrient, high sugar / fat / salt content junk food accounted for 60% of the negative consequences, and the other 40% were the result of inadequate consumption of healthy real (i.e. unprocessed) food. This aligns with the obvious cultural shifts that occurred from 1964 to the present:
Most meals were prepared at home 60 years ago, fast-food was a rarity, eating out was a treat reserved for special occasions, snacks and sugary beverages were rare treats, cold cereals contained little or no added sugar, high fructose corn syrup was unknown, local grocery stores stocking real food were common and genetically modified crops were not yet in use. Dairies and meat production were still local rather than nationally centralized.
It’s not as if people in 1964 were health fanatics. The typical diet was light on whole grains and heavy on processed meats like hot dogs and bologna, and “going to the gym” was only a thing for high school and college athletes. But food was more likely to be locally sourced, and snacks tended to be real food items such as apples or carrot sticks. The memories of the Depression were still sharp and “waste not, want not” was the zeitgeist.
Going out to eat was a luxury generally viewed as a rare splurge, as it was obviously “a waste of money.” This value system made a brown-bag lunch for students and adults alike the common choice.
Kids were encouraged (or ordered) to play outside. Many households limited the hours kids could watch TV, because it was obviously “a waste of time.”
Now, children spend much of their waking hours on social media, gamimg and other screentime entertainment. Adults manage to log 7 or 8 hours in front of non-work-related screens as well. Addictions to social media, gaming, pornography, etc. are ubiquitous.
As for food: fast food meals are now the norm for many, along with the purchase of sweet, calorie-rich drinks and salty-greasy snacks, highly processed foods that are designed to hijack the pleasure centers of the brain to the degree that they’re addictive: Study: Foods like ice cream, chips and candy are just as addictive as cigarettes or heroin.
Eating out is widely viewed not as a luxury but as a common right. Meals prepared at home are often highly processed frozen or packaged foods loaded with salt, low-quality fat and sweeteners, and lacking fiber and other nutrients.
Though millions of people watch elaborate cooking programs, a home-cooked meal made from scratch with real ingredients has become a relative rarity.
Rather than eating real food, people consume highly processed junk food, starving themselves of the nutrition they need and deranging their bodies and minds. Advertising and marketing reduce the consuming of sustenance from a healthy enjoyment to an infantile obsession with salty-sugary-fatty mouthfeel: “it tastes so good!” So does real food, once we lose the addiction to highly processed junk food.
The result is the decay of America’s health to the point of collapse.
For this reason, in my view, “A healthy homecooked family meal is a revolutionary act.”
Left unsaid in all the statistics and handwringing is the obvious truth: all this unhealthy junk food is immensely profitable. No competing power conquered us and forced us to destroy our health with addictive junk food and addictive tech platforms. The Martians didn’t land and enslave us. We bought the decay and reveled in it, and now look for solutions anywhere but the source of the decay: the elevation of corporate profits as the only metric of the nation’s “health” that matters.
Making us ill is extremely profitable, and so is alleviating the symptoms of the resulting lifestyle diseases. Just watch a few hours of trash TV and count how many Big Pharma adverts you see, touting some costly medication to alleviate the chronic diseases directly attributable to the highly processed junk food that is #2 in adverts behind the Big Pharma ads.
As the old saying put it: “They get you coming and going.” Eat this highly profitable junk food, become chronically ill, and then spend the rest of your life consuming highly profitable meds.
Isn’t the entire point of having a Neocolonial Empire to improve the well-being of the home populace at the expense of the nations being exploited and pillaged? Instead, America’s Corporate Neocolonial Empire first pillaged the health of the home populace as a test audience, and then exported the addictive products overseas.
Who needs a healthy populace rich in well-being when you can have trillions in annual corporate profits? Once the maximization of profits by any means available became the sole goal and measure of national prosperity, then generating illness and addiction became highly lucrative and reliable profit centers.
This is the Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model I’ve been discussing since 2012.
Other links on obesity and diabetes:
How do diabetes rates vary by country?
China currently has 140.9 million people with diabetes, which is set to increase to 174.4 million by 2045. Experts estimate there are also 72.8 million people in China with undiagnosed diabetes.
Obesity and Overweight (CDC)
Percent of adults aged 20 and over with overweight, including obesity: 73.6% (2017-2018)
Overweight & Obesity Statistics (niddk.nih.gov)
New podcast: Leafbox Interview: Charles Hugh Smith (73 minutes, full transcript)
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