Vegetables’ Impact On Obesity

Vegetables’ Impact On Obesity

David Eddy

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Having thankfully not spent too much time in hospitals, perhaps an observation I recently made was obvious, but it hit me like a bolt from the blue: Everyone in here is fat. And I mean fat-fat, not just a little overweight. I’m talking fat over-the-belt, or more likely, the Sansabelt.

Couple caveats: I don’t mean the people who work there. The doctors seemed to be in pretty good shape, and likewise the nurses, though some of them could have lost a few pounds. And I would put myself in that latter category, as I’m not exactly Mr. Slim. But I’m not talking just being overweight; a good 80% of the patients I saw were morbidly obese.

As a nation, we’re getting fatter, and it’s killing us. And the produce industry has not just a treatment for the symptoms, but a real cure. It’s really an enviable position to be in, when you think about it, because by selling more product we can make the nation healthier.

Better Life Through Broccoli

This is no exaggeration. On that very same day I spent at the hospital — not as a patient, but waiting for a loved one who is thankfully OK — the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) issued a press release highlighting the powerful health benefits of fruits and vegetables. A new study estimates 20,000 cancer cases per year could be prevented in the U.S. if half of the population increased its fruit and vegetable consumption by just one serving each per day. You read that right. One single, solitary serving a day.

Incidentally, the study also examined the potential relationship between pesticide residues and cancer, and calculated that an upper-bound estimate of 10 cases (i.e. likely over-estimated) or less per year could be the result of residue. But I’m not going to even bother going into that here, because anyone who thinks that Americans’ health is at risk from over-consumption of fruits and vegetables is too far gone to try and persuade otherwise. I do, however, salute groups like the PBH and the Alliance for Food and Farming for their efforts in trying to keep such people from poisoning the minds — not to mention fattening the bodies — of the uninformed.

The bottom line is that people are unlikely to just wake up and start eating better. No one is in a better position to try and increase produce consumption rates because no one else has — please pardon the pun — more skin in the game. I’m not a tax advocate, but would some sort of surcharge be appropriate to try and increase consumption? In any case, this shouldn’t all fall on growers, as all Americans would benefit through lower medical insurance rates.

Please share your ideas. Drop me an email, or if you’re reading this online at www.GrowingProduce.com, you can leave a comment. Also, check out PBH’s Fruits & Veggies —More Matters website, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. After all, just one more matters.