There are some significant paradigm shifts at play here – and malnutrition is undermining economic security for all populations. Processed food is a 50-year experiment that has failed, and the exorbitant cost of its health consequences threaten to bankrupt Medicare and disrupt all healthcare systems. Health care costs $3.2 trillion annually – of which 75 percent is attributed to diseases related to metabolic dysfunction, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polysystic ovarian syndrome, cancer, and dementia.
I continue to be very active in the food system change world – specializing in the area of metabolic health and nutrition. In addition to serving as CEO of the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation, I am also Global Education Director for Dr. Robert Lustig, and represent other key leaders in the field, managing their social impact online and in the real world.
The field of food security is shifting; while we once talked about food deserts (lack of healthy food stores), we now talk about food swamps (a preponderance of unhealthy food). Contrary to a common belief that people with lower incomes eat more fast food, given fast food’s low price point, consumption actually goes up with family income. The issue of food security is really about malnutrition (under-nutrition as well as over-nutrition) and metabolic health for all. Of course, low-income populations face unique challenges related to food and health, and they are more vulnerable on a variety of fronts.
Another major shift is the shift of focus from obesity to metabolic disease. There are more people who are thin and metabolically sick (Thin on the Outside and Fat on the Inside – “TOFI” – a real medical term!) than obese and metabolically sick. Turns out, it is the fat you can’t see that is doing the most damage – Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD) is now one the fastest growing chronic diseases on earth, and an estimated one third of the U.S. population is now affected. We are basically turning the human liver in to Foie gras with a flood of processed carbohydrates and sugar. Over half the U.S. population is either diabetic or pre-diabetic – there is a strong association between NALFD and type 2 diabetes (70% of patients with T2DM have NAFLD).