Grab the nearest packaged food product. Now read the ingredients aloud. To anyone in earshot, it probably sounds like you’re learning a new language. Don’t get down on yourself, the only people who can actually pronounce those ingredients with ease are the scientists who invented them.
Next, look at the nutrition label. Chances are, your product has also got a hearty dose of sugar, sodium, trans fat or all three.
Before you say, “That’s why it’s delicious,” allow Bryce Fluellen, a chef and instructor for the American Heart Association, to remind you what the purpose of food is, “Food is supposed to nourish you, not kill you.”
Sound dramatic? If you eat enough of the bad stuff, it’s not. Study after study makes this point. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Surely that laundry list of health ramifications would make anyone think twice about the food they put into their bodies. But the truth is, it doesn’t always work out that way. We humans are nothing if not bad at knowing what’s best for us.
In fact, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who are obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who are obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.”
Bryce Fuellen knows stats like these well. After all, he spends his days teaching kids from third to twelfth grade about the importance of healthy eating through basic cooking skills and nutrition education — work he calls his life’s calling.