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Fixin' Healthcare

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Let Them Eat Corn

The US policy for agriculture and health need to meet each other and determine if they are on the same team. The enormous surpluses of corn grown by the American farmer and paid for by the American government
(Mountains of Corn and a Sea of Farm Subsidies - The Archive - The New York Times) has placed corn at the center of the American diet.

And, a highly processed diet it is. Most Americans don't have any idea how much corn they are consuming because it is processed into so many products or fed to animals that serve as food. Nearly 10 percent of the calories Americans consume come from sweeteners in the form of high fructose corn syrup and for many children it is 20 percent.

The switch to corn sweeteners in the 1970's and 1980's is associated with the beginning of the epidemic of obesity and Type-2 diabetes mellitus. There is evidence that fructose is metabolized differently from other sugars contributing to the marked increase in the Metabolic Syndrome (abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and depressed HDL cholesterol).

Then, factor in that corn oil is high in Omega-6 essential fatty acids and the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 essential fatty acids has risen to five times the historical diet. The increased incidence of systemic hypertension and pain syndromes could be related to this dietary change.

It is hard to believe that American farmers grow any tobacco or that they receive government payments related to tobacco. Of course, when Americans stop using tobacco, farmers will no longer grow it.

When you add it up, it is a miserable picture. There is no way these aspects of Agricultural policy are in the national interest. The US government pays some farmers to contribute to poor health and the rising cost of health care. If there is any policy that should be based upon the health of the public, it is agriculture. Get agricultural policy right and the food processors will follow.

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