The Negative Impact of the American Diet on Society

American diets tend to be high in calories, saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sodium; and are devoid of essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamin D; all factors linked with obesity, heart disease and certain cancers.

Over the past decades, improvements in eating habits have mostly benefitted high-income Americans. Meanwhile, low-income people often face greater rates of diet-related diseases and shorter life spans compared to other groups.

Poor Health

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With fast food restaurants on every corner and unhealthy foods filling grocery store aisles, Americans may find it challenging to make healthier eating decisions. Unfortunately, poor dietary decisions may lead to chronic diseases and strain the healthcare system; but making small dietary adjustments can improve diet quality and boost health.

American diets tend to include foods high in sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and artificial flavors and preservatives; and fail to include enough fruits and vegetables – nutritional powerhouses which offer numerous health benefits.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Americans should consume a diet low in both fat and saturated fat while getting ample amounts of fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein. Furthermore, such an ideal diet should feature fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins so as to promote optimal health.

However, many Americans fail to adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), yet most adults in America have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes despite these guidelines. This trend can be partially attributed to overconsumption of sugary foods and refined carbs; human bodies simply are not designed to handle constant levels of glucose in the bloodstream leading to diabetes and other related conditions over time.

Also, these unhealthy dietary habits can significantly decrease life spans; more deaths result from poor diet than smoking combined. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone adopt healthier dietary practices in order to live a longer and happier life.

Poor diet choices can lead to many health issues, from cardiovascular disease and asthma to asthma and diabetes. Poor dietary choices have also been linked with depression and anxiety – there is an established connection between diet and mental health! Furthermore, an unhealthy diet may result in physical issues like gastrointestinal distress or autoimmune disorders as well as mental ones.

Though American diet has had an adverse impact on society, it isn’t too late to turn things around. The first step should be eliminating processed junk food and replacing it with fresh produce, whole grains, and lean proteins; then cutting back on drinks/meals high in sodium/added sugar/trans fat content. Finally encouraging citizens to engage in physical activity as well as sleep/rest time which made California healthy will benefit everyone in the long run.

Mental Health Issues

Diet has long been linked to physical health, but recent criticism has also focused on its effects on mental wellbeing. A diet rich in sugar and fat may contribute to mood disorders or depression – yet healthy diet can reduce risks of these conditions.

Foods high in sodium, saturated fats, added sugars and fruit and vegetable intake tend to dominate a Standard American Diet-followers’ diets, leading to too many processed and junk foods being eaten and thus increasing risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Diets high in saturated fat and sugar have also been linked with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and mood swings. Such diets have also been shown to lead to memory problems and decreased focus. Overeating can even cause people to isolate themselves from friends and family members due to social isolation due to an unhealthy diet.

A healthy diet can help alleviate inflammation and stress throughout the body, supporting gut health with probiotic-rich yogurt and kimchi consumption and cutting down on sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake for maximum relaxation and reduced stress levels.

Though mental health can be determined by many different factors, including genetics and medications, one important aspect that may negatively influence someone’s mood can be diet. A diet high in sugar and fat has been shown to directly contribute to depression, anxiety and mood swings.

Before making any significant dietary changes, it is advisable to seek medical advice first. If you take medications that could interact with certain foods that you eat, this step should be especially essential.

Economic Issues

As America struggles to contain and recover from the coronavirus pandemic, economic inequality remains. Priya Fielding-Singh of the University of Utah notes this inequity through food; her book, titled “How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America,” explores these dietary disparities through socioeconomic lines as well as race/ethnicity distinctions.

Poor diet quality in America has serious economic repercussions. Individually, nutrition-related chronic diseases cause reduced quality of life and work productivity issues which result in reduced wage earnings and an increase in government assistance programs. Collectively, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and 13 nutrition-related cancers cost our economy $16 trillion between 2011-20 due to healthcare expenses and lost wages.

Nutrition-related diseases incur costs in terms of healthcare and lost wage expenses as well as reduced economic output by restricting labor force participation, leading to slower economic growth and reduced tax revenue for governments.

Many of the issues surrounding American diet have to do with how people consume calories and what choices they make regarding what to eat. Studies have demonstrated that many Americans consume too much sodium, saturated fat, sugar and fruits/veggies resulting in inadequate nutrient density in their overall diet and an increase in chronic diseases risk.

Bittman explained to NPR’s Kai Ryssdal that America’s current diet is the result of multiple factors, such as changes to farming and ranching practices and more processed foods being made available to consumers. Unfortunately, he concluded that modern food systems no longer meet people’s needs and foster social inequality – he advocates that change be implemented quickly: although transforming how Americans eat won’t be easy or quick; coalition building among stakeholders that include farmers, ranchers, consumers, regulators, policymakers can create more sustainable food systems which improve health for all Americans.

Environmental Issues

Food choices we make not only affect ourselves, but also have a major effect on the planet. Agriculture accounts for 29% of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Furthermore, their practices damage natural ecosystems while leading to water pollution, land degradation, biodiversity loss and decreased crop yields – leading directly to less crop production from farms worldwide.

Diets high in animal products and low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils and legumes contribute significantly to environmental problems. By shifting to more plant-based foods in our diets we could reduce carbon emissions for food systems by up to 38%.

These changes in diet can be achieved by eliminating red and processed meat, cutting back on sugary drinks and salty snacks and increasing intake of fish, beans, nuts, seeds and olive oil – an act that would also decrease wasteful purchasing patterns and overbuying.

This study found that American eating patterns do not meet the healthy targets outlined by the EAT-Lancet Commission. Greenhouse gas emissions attributed to diet choices in the US are three quarters above an amount that would meet Paris Climate Agreement targets of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius; cropland usage is 60% above an amount considered sustainable land use and biodiversity maintenance while freshwater withdrawal rates exceed levels considered sustainable by 52%.

As well as greenhouse gases, this study explored other forms of ecological damage associated with food production and consumption. Corn and soybean farming can cause soil erosion while harvesting fish with bottom trawls can destroy habitats. Researchers also assessed how much water each type of food used; finding that eating less meat while increasing fruit, vegetables, rice quinoa beans nuts consumption would conserve water more effectively than other options like red meat and processed foods as well as less sweetened beverages and beverages containing red dye #40 or other sweeteners.

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