A new study confirms the dirty little secret that many of us have suspected for a long time: Americans who eat foods made with ingredients that are cheap because they receive federal agriculture subsidies are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease.
US dietary guidelines recommend that we consume limited amounts of saturated fats, sugars, salt and refined grains. But a large portion of federal agricultural subsidies support corn, soybean, wheat, rice, sorghum, dairy and livestock farming.
Here’s the irony. These subsidized commodities are often converted into high fat meat and dairy products, processed and packaged foods, refined grains, and soft drinks sweetened with corn syrup.
Researchers looked at the diets of over 10,000 adults, and found that those who consumed the most subsidized food had a 37% higher probability of being obese, a 41% higher probability of having abdominal fat, a 34% higher probability of elevated inflammation, a 14% higher probability of cholesterol abnormalities, and a 21% higher probability of abnormal blood sugar. The researchers concluded, “Nutritional guidelines are focused on the population’s needs for healthier foods, but to date food and agricultural policies that influence food production and availability have not yet done the same.”
So, we spend money subsidizing the foods that make us sick and then we spend money on healthcare.
Just imagine if we flipped this on its head and subsidized the foods that are really good for us and that can help prevent chronic disease? What if the cheap foods in the grocery store were the ones that are the healthiest? What a wonderful world that would be.