Medical student Kris Gunnars has an article at Business Insider, of all places, that shows graphically many of the major U.S. dietary changes of the last hundred years. In this case, transmogrification may be a better term than mere “changes.” Much of the Western world has evolved in similar fashion.
You need to read the article and ponder the graphs if you question why we have so much obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and perhaps cancer. You’ll see dramatic increases in consumption of added sugars, industrial seed oils (esp. soybean), soda pop and fruit juice (added sugar!), total calories, and fast food. You’ll see how much we’ve increased dining away from home. Butter consumption is down drastically, but doesn’t seem to have done us much good, if any.
There’s fairly good evidence that coronary artery disease (CAD) the cause of most heart attacks) was very prominent between 1960 to 2000 or so, but it’s been tapering off in recent years and didn’t seem to be very common 100 years ago. Understand that you can have it for 20 years or more before you ever have symptoms (angina) or a heart attack from it. In fact, the disease probably starts in childhood. I’ve always wondered about the cause of the CAD prevalence trends, and wondered specifically how much of the long-term trend was related to trans-fat consumption. But I’ve never been able to find good data on trans-fat consumption. Kris came up with a chart of margarine consumption, which may be a good proxy for trans-fats. Another of his charts includes shortening, a rich source of trans-fats and probably also a good proxy. I remember growing up in the 1960s that we always had a 1/2 gallon tin can of Crisco hydrogenated fat in the cupboard. Shortening consumption increased dramatically from 1955 until dropping like a rock around 2000.
The timeline curves for trans-fat consumption (by proxy) and prevalence of coronary heart disease seem to match up fairly well, considering a 20 year lag. In the early 1990s, we started cutting back on trans-fats, and here we are now with lower mortality and morbidity from coronary artery disease. (CAD is very complex; lower rates of smoking surely explain some of the recent trend.)
Read the whole enchilada. Very impressive. Highly recommended.
One response to “Major U.S. Diet Changes over the Last 100 Years”
Trans-fat? Yes, but also the disastrous amount of processed foods we consume.
NO need to snack everything that came out of a box.
I think it should be part of the eduction in school for kids – food is like medicine… now we feed our kids in school with pizza, snickers and coke!
How difficult is it to bring almonds, cherry tomatoes, avocado, walnuts, a piece of fruit, boiled egg, ..? Super easy and..way CHEAPER & HEALTHIER than boxed & processed stuff! Don’t you think so?
If you really struggle to get started planning out all the details (shopping, eating what and when) then I like to point you to my (personal) favorite step-by-step Paleo plan from Tim’s blog at http://timreviews.com/paleo-recipe (I hope he doesn’t mind)
Remember, food is like medicine. You don’t want to feed your body with food that came form machines and that contains masses of sugar and chemicals.