Diabetes and a Cheap Food Supply

Diabetes and a Cheap Food Supply: There is a current ideological argument between professor Michael Pollan and various agricultural interests. This argument speculates as to the fundamental reasons for obesity in America and the subsequent rise in Type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

Pollan argues that cheap corn has only served to increase the girth of Americans while serving as a detriment to greenhouse gas emissions. His argument essentially is that food prices should be raised making it prudent to cut down on the amount of food you eat.

Agricultural interests contend that their industry cannot be blamed for the choices of consumers. The customer has demanded more and suppliers have simply done what good businesses have always done – work to supply the demand. Restaurant meals in the 1970’s were much smaller in total size than they are today.

Pollan contends Americans have moved to consuming more beef while eating fewer fruits and vegetables since the 1980’s. However, research indicates overall red meat consumption is down 15% during that time period while vegetable intake was up 23%.



I suppose this argument is a bit like a consumer suing a fast food restaurant for coffee that is too hot or food with too many calories. The point is consumers have a choice and they must bear some responsibility for their choice.

Positive portion control has always been the friend of the American consumer. Sometimes we may have trouble managing our appetite, but the truth is we don’t have to eat everything on our plate – even if we were told to do so as a child. You can bag up the leftovers for another meal if you like.

You can also order items ala cart and skip the fries. You can choose iced tea (sugarless) over soda options and you don’t have to have mayo or ranch on your burgers or chicken.

America has done a great job at providing consumers multiple choices. Consumers simply need to work at making better and more informed food intake decisions.

Diabetes is a terrible disease and we should do what we can to avoid placing ourselves at risk, but in the present economy it is hard to make sense of an idea that asks the government to work at inflating the price of food.

There are, of course, multiple issues involved in this debate, but it is interesting to see the lack of discussion related to personal choice.

It’s not unheard of to find a couple eating at a restaurant and simply sharing one meal. Sometimes they will not be able to finish the meal between them. This is an example of wise consuming.

We have more workout facilities than ever, but there are always more members not using those facilities on a regular basis than those who are.

The work many of us involve ourselves in is behind a computer or sitting at a desk most of the day. We get very little exercise and we’re generally in a hurry because our schedule is too full of things to do and people to see.

Is it possible that our lifestyle choices have more to do with the epidemic of diabetes than a cheap food supply?

What we do know is that the growth of diabetes is alarming and the costs associated with its care are enormous. No one can make you exercise or eat right, but your body will be much better off if you will. This is true about diabetes prevention efforts and it is true about self-managed care once the disease has been diagnosed.