The next time you find yourself reaching for the nearest doughnut or slice of pizza, blame the government. We’re living in a country where just about three-quarters of us are considered overweight or obese. Our junk food addiction is supported by foods like breads, sugary drinks, and pasta, all of which are in the top ten list of where American’s calories come from. So, where does the government come in? Well, all of these foods happen to come from crops that are subsidized by the government, which ensures that the food remains cheap and easy to make.
Some of the crops and farm foods that keep our junk food addiction strong are corn, wheat, sorghum, and soybeans. The government provided $170 billion in subsidies between 1995 and 2010 to help aid in the production of crops like these. You may be thinking that some of these foods are actually good for you, like soybeans and corn, and you’d be right. However, the primary uses of what would be considered healthy crops aren’t being consumed as is by Americans. They’re being turned into things like corn sweeteners or industrial oils.
It’s not like the government is officially recommending that we keep up our junk food addiction. They still recommend that we should be eating more fruits and veggies, but aren’t supporting that mission financially. A small percentage of government subsidies go towards crops that yield healthy fruits and vegetables, while the majority go towards crops that aid in the production of foods linked to unhealthy lifestyles.
The results of a study conducted by federal health researchers were published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine. The researchers sought to discover if there is a link between disease and consuming junk food. The team analyzed over 10,000 adults, as well as the food they ate during a typical day. The subjects were grouped together based on which foods coming from the crops mentioned above they ate. After adjusting for things like age and sex, the team found that those who ate more foods that came from government subsidized crops were 37 percent more likely to be obese. Not only that, but this group was also more likely to have belly fat and abnormal cholesterol. These results certainly aren’t conclusive, but they do hint that there could be a link between eating large amounts of junk food produced from government subsidized crops and having poor health.
Why does the government subsidize these crops anyway? In its initial form, the subsidies were set-up in order to help farmers who were struggling, as well as bolstering the food supply in America. The government has given farmers almost $300 billion since 1995. These subsidies are a part of the federal farm bill which also encapsulates the food stamp program.