November 6, 2007
Farm Policy a cause of obesity?
From the Danville Register Bee:
Fat? Blame Congress, at least partly
By SEAN MUSSENDEN, Media General News Service
. . .
It costs far less to get the calories from unhealthy foods with added oils or sweeteners than it does from nutritious foods like fresh vegetables. Energy-dense foods made with subsidized crops like soybean oil and high-fructose corn syrup have been linked to heart disease and diabetes.
"There's a huge cost disparity. It's not a coincidence that low-income people will gravitate towards cheaper, energy-dense foods that are nutritionally poor," said Adam Drewnowski, director of the nutritional sciences program at the University of Washington.
His studies have found that foods made from subsidized crops - like cookies and soda -- cost five times less per calorie than unsubsidized foods -- like carrots or orange juice.
Drewnowski finds it ironic that the Agriculture Department encourages people to eat vegetables like lettuce or carrots that are not subsidized, and therefore more expensive, while giving people an economic incentive through subsidies to buy foods it says they should eat sparingly.
"The farm bill is geared to production of calories, not nutrients," he said. "It's resulted in a diet that is energy rich but nutritionally poor."
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