Re-engineering the Food System for Better Health

Posted on November 22, 2009  Comments (6)

Good food nation

According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 1980 and 2006 the percentage of obese teenagers in the United States grew from 5 to 18, while the percentage of pre-teens suffering from obesity increased from 7 to 17.

Obesity is widespread due to our national-scale system of food production and distribution, which surrounds children – especially lower-income children – with high-calorie products…
90 percent of American food is processed – according to the United States Department of Agriculture – meaning it has been mixed with ingredients, often acting as preservatives, that can make food fattening.

Now, in another report finished this October after meetings with food-industry leaders, the MIT and Columbia researchers propose a solution: America should increase its regional food consumption.

Only 1 to 2 percent of all food consumed in the United States today is locally produced. But the MIT and Columbia team, which includes urban planners and architects, believes widespread adoption of some modest projects could change that, by increasing regional food production and distribution.

To help production, the group advocates widespread adoption of small-scale innovations such as “lawn to farm” conversions in urban and suburban areas, and the “10 x 10 project,” an effort to develop vegetable plots in schools and community centers. Lawns require more equipment, labor and fuel than industrial farming nationwide, yet produce no goods. But many vegetables, including lettuce, cucumbers and peppers, can be grown efficiently in small plots.

As Albright sees it, the effort to produce healthier foods “fits right in with the health-care reform effort right now because chronic diseases are so costly for the nation.” America currently spends $14 billion annually treating childhood obesity, and $147 billion treating all forms of obesity.

Good stuff. We need to improve health in the USA. The current system is unhealthy and needs to be improved. The public good from improving the health of society is huge (both in terms of individual happiness and economic benefits).

Related: Rethinking the Food Production SystemStudy Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as SmokingEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.Active Amish Avoid ObesityObesity Epidemic ExplainedAnother Strike Against Cola

6 Responses to “Re-engineering the Food System for Better Health”

  1. Jeremy
    November 24th, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

    The regional food consumption idea is a good one, but it is just a start. The bigger problem is lack of education regarding the matter. People perceive obesity as just a physical appearance problem. As there becomes more obese kids around, it becomes more accepted to look that way. Few people are stopping to think of the health consequences. Kids and parents need to be taught the importance of eating healthy. Then both sides can make healthier decisions regarding what they eat. Of course schools should be doing their part by offering healthy food options whenever possible.

  2. Bermet
    December 3rd, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

    Food is very important thing of every people.
    I want to recommend you a documentary movie “Food Inc.”
    There are a lot of information about what we eating.

  3. chris
    July 30th, 2010 @ 7:49 am

    I agree with you. It seems that kids are getting bigger faster and probaly for those same reasons. I was also curios if you had done any studies into this……kids now days seems look older at a younger age than in the previous decades. I was wondering if the items they put into the food would have anything to contribute to this finding? Also what would that do for them at an elder age say 60 to 70 years old?

  4. Anonymous
    September 30th, 2010 @ 1:27 am

    Although it’s true that only 1 to 2 percent of all food consumed in the United States today is locally produced. We should also pay attention to the junk foods. People in around the world, especially children already get used to eat them. It looks like that people who don’t eat them seem to be unnatural/weird. We have to admit it that it’s hard to avoid them.

    Everything(diseases and health) starts from what we eat. I’m agree that organic food is necessary.

  5. Anonymous
    May 22nd, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    I think a large part of the problem is education. Literally everyone I know eats more junk than health food. They even know they are but still don’t eat healthy food. People need to take more responsibility for their actions as well. Another problem is the economy. Healthier foods are double and even triple the price and a lot of people are out of work. They need cost efficient alternatives to the junk foods

  6. Tom
    August 29th, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    Any effort to produce manufactured food on a massive scale is always going to run the risk of having to resort to a lowest common quality denominator. Quality is a moving feast, and dependent upon both the level of expectation and the value being placed on it. Consumers make choices with their food spend, and as we begin to buy more of the ‘better’ stuff, it’ll start to appear on more shelves. Just my little tuppence!

Leave a Reply