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Are We Fat Because Food is Too Cheap?

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says people in the U.S. are fat because our food is too cheap?despite the fact that poorer people tend to be the most obese. But although manufacturers are producing plenty of unhealthy things to eat, they're also making "feel good foods."

Not all food is cheap?just unhealthy food. Nutritionist Adam Drewnowski says, "It's a question of money. The reason healthier diets are beyond the reach of many people is that such diets cost more. On a per calorie basis, diets composed of whole grains, fish, and fresh vegetables and fruit are far more expensive than refined grains, added sugars and added fats. It's not a question of being sensible or silly when it comes to food choices, it's about being limited to those foods that you can afford." Many of these foods are inexpensive because they're based on corn, which is heavily subsidized by the government, so it can be sold cheaply. Beef is fed corn, and corn is turned into high-fructose syrup that sweetens soft drinks.

Inexpensive foods include French fries, soft drinks, candy, cookies, hamburgers and deep-fried meats. These are called "energy dense" foods because they have a lot of calories per bite. Studies have shown that these foods, which are not found in nature, interfere with our body's signals that we've eaten enough, which is why we tend to eat too much of them.

"It is the opposite of choice," Drewnowski says. "People are not poor by choice and they become obese primarily because they are poor?Genetics and family history can predict whether you will become obese?but then so can your ZIP code. If poverty and obesity are truly linked, it will be a major challenge to stay poor and thin."

But you can't say food manufacturers don't care about their customers' health: Some of them are producing "feel good foods" by adding vitamins and other ingredients that improve people's moods and help them sleep. One of these items is ice cream and milk with extra melatonin, to help combat jet lag and insomnia. Another kind of ice cream contains essence of orchid, to make "your spirits fly."

Red Kite Farms in the U.K. says the amount of melatonin in cows' milk depends on the breed, age and stage of lactation in the herd. They found they could maximize the melatonin by milking cows at dawn, after they've had a good night's sleep.

To get a good night's sleep, take the soothing sounds of the ocean to bed with you.

To learn more, click here and here.

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