Food Companies Purposely Create Unhealthy Food

Obesity in ChildrenCredit: Joe_13:

Unhealthy food is everywhere. Whether it is pink slime (formally known as Lean Finely Textured Beef) where cow carcass scraps are placed in a centrifuge to separate fat, spritzed with ammonia and then added to hamburger meat,[1] or Taco Bell’s 24 ingredient meat mixture which contains only 36% beef (along with other ingredients like sand),[2] or the dairy industry’s push to add artificial sweeteners to milk to appeal to kids, while still calling the product “milk,” [3] make no mistake, food companies are about one thing. P-R-O-F-I-T-S! With one in three American adults defined as clinically obese[4] and diseases like type two diabetes soaring in children when not too long ago it was unheard of, now more than ever, we have got to take the power away from food companies. Enough with the over-abundance of unhealthy food.

Food giants such as Nestle, Kraft, General Mills, and Coca-Cola care about moolah first and foremost. Health considerations are secondary at best. If you don’t believe that they are knowingly developing unhealthy food, consider this.

Food Companies Think of You as Body Parts

Food companies have used a term called “share of stomach” to describe their goal of stuffing you with as much of their unhealthy food as possible.[5] Using ingredients with addictive properties like sugar in unhealthy amounts have increased the companies’ bottom line. Take General Mills. They turned yogurt on its head by changing an uber healthy food into a sugar laden pudding snack and targeted adults and kids (heard of Yoplait or Gogurt anyone?). The result? A stupendous uptick in sales to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. I mean come on. Have we really gotten to the point where we believe yogurt should have more sugar in it than Lucky Charms cereal?[6]

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Food Companies Want to Crack You Out and Keep You Hooked

Food companies are all looking for their products’ “bliss point,” which basically means companies spend billions of dollars on research to find the perfect food formulation that makes people crave it and creates junk food addiction. It’s no coincidence that these food formulations Food. Glorious Food.Credit: to have way more than the daily recommended levels of sugar, salt, or fat.

RELATED: My 2-Liter a Day Addiction to Coca-Cola

Food companies actively work to get you hooked. For instance, Coca-Cola referred to the customers who drank the most soda as “heavy users.” Their goal was to create more and more heavy users as that was more efficient than building the number of occasional consumers.[6]

RELATED: Weight Gain and Soda

Food Companies Use Science to Mask the Truth about Unhealthy Food

To hear major food companies tell it, their scientific lab experiments tasty, salty, sugary, fatty snacks, entrees and more can all be part of a healthy diet. When talking about their individual products they argue that no one specific food is the cause of rising obesity rates and other ailments. Technically that is true. But when we also know that these same food companies are fighting for the largest share of your stomach, that argument becomes disingenuous at best. So what’s a consumer to do?

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Protect Yourself! Fight the Unhealthy Food Powers!

Weapon # 1: Your Food Dollars

What do you think would happen if we stopped buying unhealthy foods like ready-to-eat sugar,Banquet Ocean Adventure Chicken NuggetsCredit: brown pau: salt, and fat disasters like the popular Lunchables creations (which by the way the creator’s grandchildren don’t eat)? Do you think the food companies would change? Of course they would! We know exactly what would happen. The food companies would turn their attention to developing different products to suit our desires. As a food company head reportedly once said, speaking from the standpoint of a typical consumer, “Don’t talk to me about nutrition. Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”[6] In essence, we know it’s unhealthy, but people are buying it. Why should we stop selling it? And they are right. If we stop buying it, they WILL stop selling itFood companies are not in business to lose money. 

Weapon #2: Take Full Ownership of What and How Much Unhealthy Food We Eat

Whenever a story comes out highlighting the perils of junk foods and the food companies that make it, a line is drawn in the sand with people either blaming the food companies, or blaming the consumers for unhealthy eating habits and its negative consequences. “We need to take responsibility for what we eat and stop blaming the manufacturers.” “Parents need to stop serving their kids chicken nuggets and make them eat healthy food.” “When your kids are yelling and screaming for soda, grow a backbone and just say no.” ”If you’re gaining weight, do something about it. Don’t blame it on the food manufacturers and the unhealthy food that you eat.” I’ve read it all and honestly? I agree with this view point. After all, no one is forcing us to shove unhealthy food down our throats or down the throats of our children.

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But it’s not that simple. When foods are intentionally engineered to drive the pleasure center of our brains crazy, when food companies knowingly develop product recipes which maximize that amount of ingredients with addictive properties (sugar, salt, fat, caffeine), when food companies spend billions of dollars on research to help them manipulate consumers with junk food advertising, when kids getting access to junk food is as easy as walking into their school and going to the vending machine, it’s more than personal responsibility or lack of willpower at play. The food companies must also take responsibility for the unhealthy food they create and the consequences. But we are not powerless.

Related: Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Weapon # 3: Get Educated

Being an educated consumer is the best defense. Read food labels. Know what healthy levels of salt, fat and sugar are. We’ve heard this a million times before and there’s a reason for it. Not enough people do it. How exactly is one supposed to know what’s contained in the food if we don’t read the label? Vanilla ice cream. Milk. Cream. Sugar. Vanilla. If your vanilla ice cream has 82 ingredients, it’s probably not something you should be eating. If you think reading labels can’t help, consider this. By 2007 Finland reduced the number of deaths by stroke and heart disease by 75-80% by improving health care and forcing the food manufacturers to label food that had a high salt content. The consumption of salt dropped and so did the deaths.[7]

Weapon # 4: Cook More Fresh Foods

Money is tight. Time is tight. People are stressed. Food companies are capitalizing on these nostalgiaCredit: samantha celera: and developing unhealthy food that fools us into believing that we’re eating and serving our families something wholesome, when what we are really doing is eating junk food. Take Lunchables for example. The cutely packaged containers have compartments for food like crackers, cheese, cold cuts and candy. These things are salty, sugary and fatty, all of the things we should not be eating on a regular basis. They were invented after consumer research showed that moms were very stressed about trying to do it all and they wished there was a way to make lunch easier. Lunchables to the rescue. This product alone has raked in millions and millions of dollars and spun off different versions which are also making a ton of money.[6]

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Seriously. It’s time to reevaluate. For instance, we can grind our own meat for healthier, tastier hamburgers (or chicken or turkey burgers). It is easy to do, doesn’t take a lot of time and you will know EXACTLY what you’re eating. No pink slime Lean Finely Textured Beef here! I remember all of the terrific and simple foods my mom used to make when I was a kid. They were healthy, delicious and nutritious. I beg to differ with food companies that suggest that great taste and healthy are mutually exclusive.

Weapon #5: Limit the Amount of Unhealthy Food in Your Diet

Tell me, what happened to McDonalds being a treat? When I was a kid, going to McDonald’s was something special. Once in a blue moon. It was something to look forward to, not because I had a junk food addiction, but because it was an indulgence that didn’t happen very often. Can’t we get back to that? Do we really need dessert every night or after every meal? When did potato chips and corn chips become side dishes?

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If we treated food companies’ unhealthy food creations as occasional indulgences we would not have the current obesity and health epidemic that we do. The food companies share responsibility for that because they are literally banking on us to continue to eat unhealthy food not only regularly, but hopefully increase the amount of consumption. THAT, we absolutely have control over and we should not allow. We are incredibly busy. We are stressed out. We are competing against extreme junk food advertising dollars. But we are not helpless. Don’t let the food companies kill you. Take that unhealthy food power out their hands.