Don’t blame markets for obesity

For nearly the entirety of human history, the chief concern of most people has been getting enough to eat. The invention of capitalism finally enabled the majority of people in market-based societies to focus on higher pursuits. Yet capitalism is now widely blamed for causing obesity – because of the availability of fast food, “food deserts”, or simply because markets incentivize products to make food as delicious and cheap as possible.

Whether or not you are a fan of free markets, it is personally important for you to understand why this idea is wrong:

The ultimate cause of obesity is not that we eat too much food, or that we lack access to healthy food, or that our food is simply too delicious. The cause is that we eat the wrong foods. The reason so much of the food in America is so unhealthy is mostly due to bad science enshrined in agricultural subsidies and government-issued guidelines.

Regardless, if you are overweight (and over 70% of us are), you need to know that the cause is not due to your genetics (our grandparents weren’t all obese), a failing of morality or willpower, or the capitalist system.

When you eat a healthy diet, your body naturality self-regulates the hormonal signals for hunger and satiety to keep you at a healthy weight. It takes years of eating bad foods to cause chronic hormonal imbalances that lead to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and the majority of chronic lifestyle diseases that we deal with today.

I’ve written about the hormonal cause of obesity and what a proper diet consists of elsewhere, but it is also important to understand that you don’t need to shop at premium grocery stores like Whole Foods to eat well.

Organic and groceries considered “health foods” today have only been around for a few decades thanks to health food venture capitalism from people like Whole Foods founder John Mackey. (Follow this link to listen to his story, and you might be surprised about the pro-market views of America’s leading hippie food promoter.)  Food that is objectively nutritious can be found cheaply in most anywhere America, even if it comes in a can on the shelf of a Dollar Store.

Experiments such as “30 Days of Gas Station Food” prove that you can find decent food even if you shop exclusively at gas stations.

If there is interest, I would like to conduct an experiment: identify some staples of a healthy diet, then match them one for one between Whole Foods and Dollar General. I suspect that the building blocks of a nutritious diet can be found in most fast food venues, gas stations, and even “food deserts.”

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