While I was chowing down on breakfast this morning (a half-and-half bowl of Cheerios and Raisin Bran with 2% milk, a piece of 100 % whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a watered down glass of orange juice) I heard an interview on CBC Radio’s The Current that Anna Maria Tremonti did with American author Michael Moss, who recently published a book titled Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.
During my repast, I didn’t at any point pick up a salt shaker or sugar spoon. Got to eat healthy, right? But if you were to actually measure the amount of sugar and salt I’d ingested… even though my food choices were relatively healthy compared to most items on the processed food continuum, you’d be surprised.
Here’s a link to Tremonti’s interview with Moss. What it boils down to is that for all sorts of reasons, from shelf-life to taste, texture and marketability, the giant food companies that control huge chunks of the global food supply routinely add significant amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat to their products.
People don’t do themselves any favours with some of their food and beverage choices, obviously. But even if you try to eat and drink healthy you end up consuming more of the above substances than you need for good nutrition. Others factors, especially our sedentary lifestyle, factor into it. But poor diet is a major contributor to a host of health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dementia that are reaching epidemic proportions in our society.
The impact it’s having on health care costs is huge. With an aging population, some of that increase is inevitable. But this year the provincial allocation for health is probably going to reach $5 billion. And in a roughly $11 billion budget that’s a shitload pile of money. And Moss argues in his book that we have to find ways to get food processors to improve the health quality of their products by reducing the salt, sugar and saturated fat content.
To close, here’s a video by Rollin’ Wild that’s attracted a fair bit of attention on YouTube lately titled What If Wild Animals Ate Fast Food: