High Glycemic Foods: Affects On Obesity & Disease

4222 words - 17 pages

High Glycemic Foods: Affects on Obesity & Disease
Are high glycemic diets a cause of obesity and disease in America today? Obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at an all time high in the United States; studies link a high glycemic diet with obesity and chronic disease. The Worldwide Health Organization (WHO) reports that there are more than 1 billion overweight adults globally” (WHO, 2010). According to a 2005-2006 CDC study of the United States population, 34% of adults are obese. In addition, the International Diabetes Federation announced in 2006 that diabetes is becoming the epidemic of the 21st century with 246 million people affected ...view middle of the document...

This low fat craze and the food pyramid that has supported it continue to have a tremendous affect on the amount of carbohydrates that Americans consume. “Because protein intake for most individuals remains within a fairly narrow range, reductions in dietary fat tend to cause a compensatory rise in carbohydrate consumption” (Ludwig, 2010). Since 1970, there has been a 50% rise in carbohydrate consumption in the United States (USDA, 2002). This dietary change was not only supported by the USDA but also the medical community and in the schools where the food pyramid was displayed and taught (Palfreman, 2004).
America eats high glycemic foods in the form of refined grains, sugar, processed carbohydrates, and fast food. According to the USDA consumers eat too much refined grain and not enough whole grain (USDA, 2002). Although we consume less food in the form of carbohydrates than those in the early 1900’s, the whole grain carbohydrates they ate have been replaced with the refined or processed carbohydrates of today (Liebman, 1999). Eighty percent of the carbohydrates consumed by children between the ages of two and eighteen are higher on the glycemic index than sugar (Ludwig, 2002). The USDA also reports that sugar consumption hit a record high in 1999 and is the number one food additive. The recommended daily allowance of sugar per day is about 10 teaspoons, but the average American has an intake of about 32 teaspoons (USDA, 2002). Processed foods are also at an all time high; they include foods that are boxed, canned, or labeled (Hyman, 2008). The processing of carbohydrates increases the glycemic index of the food and decreases its nutrients (Harvard School of Public Health, 2010). Americans spend about 90% of their food budget on processed foods (Chuang, 2009). Also, because many Americans are on the go, fast food consumption has become a normal part of the American culture. There has been a 1000% increase in the number of fast food chains since 1970 (The Healthy Eating Guide, 2010) and a 300% increase in fast food sales from 1970 to 1980 (Paeratakul, Ferdinand, Champagne, & Bray, 20003). The new American diet has become a health risk.
What America needs to learn is that all calories, including carbohydrates are not created equally. “You eat not only calories but also information. Eat the wrong information and you give your genes instructions to make you fat. Eat the right information and you give your genes instructions to lose weight” (Hyman, 2008). The food we eat also gives “information” to our bodies that can cause disease. To understand this concept in regards to high glycemic carbohydrates, we first need to understand the basics of carbohydrates, the glycemic index, and glycemic load.
A carbohydrate is composed of sugars. Sugars are essential and are required for energy. Unused sugars are stored in the body as fat and can be drawn on for later energy use. Carbohydrates can be classified into simple and...

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