I recently watched a documentary on Amazon Prime called Fed Up, and indeed this is how I felt after watching it. The documentary chronicles young children struggling with obesity while providing a history of food production and trends in the US since WWII.
Clearly, we have an obesity problem in the US. The alarming trend is young kids affected at greater rates. "Adult onset diabetes" is not even a term used anymore because of the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among children.
I agree with the thesis of this documentary. The problem is sugar. When fat was demonized and the low-fat craze took hold, what do you suppose they added to foods to replace the fat? Sugar, of course. And lots of it. Enter the invention of high fructose corn syrup, and you have a very cheap way to add lots of sugar to highly-processed foods.
Sugar is highly addictive. With MRI technology it can be shown that consuming sugar lights up the same areas of the brain as taking cocaine. The documentary references a study of rats in which the rats were addicted to cocaine and then given a choice between more cocaine or sugar water. The vast majority of rats opted for sugar water.
Big agriculture is the primary culprit aided and abetted by the US government. Here is an example I found quite telling. According to the conventional wisdom, fat is bad. But fat isn't bad if it suits the food makers. There is whole milk, which has 3.25% milk fat. Then there's 2%, 1%, and finally skim milk in which all fat is removed. The popularity of skim milk took off during the low-fat craze. But think about it, what happened to all the fat that was taken out of skim milk? Do you think it just went to waste? Around the same time that you were being told "milk does a body good," there were ads for another food product--cheese. They took all the fat taken out of milk and started producing cheese. Yes, even the fake food slices wrapped in plastic where you are probably better off eating the plastic.
For me, the proof is in the non-fat free pudding. As part of Project Food as Fuel, I have eliminated sugar from my diet and greatly reduced carb intake while adding much more healthy fats. I have lost weight, I'm off all prescription medications, and my biomarkers continue to improve.
So how do we as a society fix this? Adults are going to have to figure it out, but we have a responsibility to set up kids for success. There is an argument to be made that consuming excess sugar is the new smoking. I'm all for free will and libertarian policies, but when we are facing such a terrible health crisis something has to be done. After all, we are all going to bear the costs in the form of rising insurance premiums and the healthcare costs associated with treating obesity and metabolic syndrome. Some countries have started limited or banning ads for junk food aimed at children. Maybe we should also fund public schools properly so that we don't have a situation where 80% of public schools have contracts to sell Coke products.
If this topic is of interest, I highly recommend this documentary. You can also find more information on the website.