Bad Diets: Yes, I Am Talking To You

By Dr. Dave Schwartz

Is your diet really healthy? Most Americans think they eat pretty well. Learn how you can improve your diet for optimal health results.


A recent poll conducted by Consumer Reports Health found that nine out of ten Americans view their diet as healthy.  Of the 1,234 American adults polled, 89.7 percent said their diet was “somewhat” (52.6 percent), “very” (31.5 percent), or “extremely” healthy (5.6 percent).  However, forty-three percent of those people stated that they drank at least one sugary drink every day and that twenty-five percent of those polled had no limit on their intake of sweets and sugars.  Four in ten Americans said they ate “pretty much everything” or “mostly everything” that they wanted.[1. Discovery News. Americans Falsely Believe Their Diet is Healthy. 4 Jan 2011]

When assessing their diets, Americans tend to give themselves a pat on the back and say they are doing a good to decent job.  Yet, when you look at the statistics, the numbers for obesity are staggering:

  • Two-thirds, more than 190 million Americans, are overweight or obese.
  • Obesity-related diseases are a $147 billion dollar medical burden every year.
  • Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years.[2. Doane, Seth. Battling Obesity in America. CBS News. 7 Jan 2010]

Every year the numbers continue to escalate with no end in sight.  A major contributing factor to the rise in obesity can be found in the Standard American Diet (SAD). The SAD has been a staple in the American food system for decades.  Feeding into the rushed, time-limited schedules of many Americans, the SAD consists mainly of:

  • Processed carbohydrates and meats
  • High consumption of sugar  (high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, cane sugar, etc)
  • High consumption of hydrogenated and trans fats
  • Low consumption of plant based foods, vegetables, and fruits

This diet consists of mostly everything your body doesn’t need and lacks in essential vitamins and minerals that your body requires for energy and repair.  A study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis reveals that Americans are getting nearly one-third of their calories from junk foods, which include soft drinks, sweets, desserts, alcoholic beverages, and salty snacks.[3. Adams, M. One-Third of American’s Diet is Junk Food and Soft Drinks. Natural News. June 2004] Just drive down the street and you will find there are ten fast food restaurants to one local, fresh produce grocery store.  It is a fact that it is cheaper and easier to eat unhealthy in America. However, the consequences are real. Not only are we seeing drastic increases in adult and child obesity, but diabetes and chronic diseases are on the rise.  The age old saying, “you are what you eat” is more true and real than ever before.