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Not Lunch Break

I was going to use this as a lunch break, but then I decided it was against the spirit of the thing to have a lunch break that would leave you afraid to eat lunch. So here's Robert Kenner, director of "Food Inc.," on "The Daily Show."

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Stewart and Kenner discuss something you hear a lot: If our food is worse today than it was in the '50s, how come we live longer? It's a fair question. One answer is we spend a whole lot more money on health care than we did in the '50s. And much of that spending is counteracting our poorer health. We have one industry that makes us fat and another industry that helps us deal with the consequences of being fat. Gotta love the invisible hand.

Another is that a lot goes into our health. Food is some of it. But so is sanitation. Physical exercise. Maternal nutrition. Mental well-being. And a lot of those contributors have improved. So it's hard to say what the changes in our diets would have done if we held everything else equal. The rise in obesity, in diabetes, and in heart disease suggests that we'd probably be facing pretty high death rates. But either way, the evidence is very strong that bad diets are making us sicker than we'd otherwise be. And that's something worth changing.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 7, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Lunch Break  
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The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes among Mexican Americans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans in the United States and compare these estimates to data from prior surveys for U.S. non-Hispanic whites and blacks. Data for this study are from the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a multipurpose cross-sectional survey of three U.S. Hispanic populations conducted in 1982-1984. The interviewed sample of people aged 20-74 yr included 3935 Mexican Americans in the southwest, 1134 Cubans in Florida, and 1519 Puerto Ricans in the New York City area. The diabetes component consisted of interview questions on diabetes diagnosis and treatment and an oral glucose tolerance test administered to a subsample. The prevalence of diabetes was two to three times greater for Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans than for non-Hispanic whites surveyed in 1976-1980. In Cubans, the prevalence was similar to that for non-Hispanic whites. In men and women 45-74 yr of age, the prevalence of diabetes was extremely high for both Mexican Americans (23.9%) and Puerto Ricans (26.1%) compared with Cubans (15.8%) or non-Hispanic whites (12%). The total prevalence of diabetes was not significantly different for Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans but was significantly lower for Cubans. The relatively lower prevalence of diabetes among Cubans and the high prevalence in both Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans may be related to socioeconomic, genetic, behavioral, or environmental factors.

Posted by: jwogdn | July 7, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

But either way, the evidence is very strong that bad diets are making us sicker than we'd otherwise be. And that's something worth changing.

Ezra, are you kidding? If not you are out of your area of competence. If anything the medical care system is doing very little.

You need to look at the other side of this argument. Spend a few hours on the junk food science blog:

Posted by: jwogdn | July 7, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

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