The advice out there for those who want to understand the increasing levels of obesity and related health issues is both wildly inconsistent and unthinkably vast. If you peruse the internet looking for the causes you will find many things implicated from TV to transfats to high fructose corn syrup to cars to simple laziness. If you are willing to be suckered into obvious scams you will be sold acai berries, weight loss pills, exercise regiments, herbal supplements, detoxifiers, antioxidants and more. What is even more challenging is how fast the villain in question changes. When I was young my father was told that he had very high cholesterol and was forbidden to eat eggs because of their high cholesterol content. This was a struggle for my parents because my father loves eggs and tends to ignore that sort of advice while my mother was much more willing to cut out eggs in an attempt to improve his health. In the end it turns out that dietary cholesterol does absolutely nothing of significance to increase the risk of cardiovascular failure so the advice that was given was very poor indeed. We were first told to cut back on fat in our food decades ago and many people still look for low fat content food and items with 'light' marked on them despite the evidence that 'light' products are not at all better for your health or weight.
Recently I found this article and this video (It is 90 minutes long but I highly recommend taking the time to see it) that talked about the real reason for the increases in cardiovascular problems and obesity in our society. Of course *everybody* knows the real reason, but some are more real than others... and this guy seems about as legit as it is possible to be.
1. He isn't selling anything. Never trust anybody telling you what you need to do when they follow it up with a pitch asking for your money.
2. He obviously has a deep grasp of both the practical and theoretical components of his argument. Don't trust advice from people unless they obviously have a tremendous personal understanding of the issue at hand.
3. He presents a lot of good science to support his position and has no stories or testimonials. Relying on testimonials is basically admitting that you don't have sufficient evidence to support your idea properly.
What is the conclusion? Sugar is the villain - fructose in particular. High fructose corn syrup is bad, bad, bad but it only continued the trend established by its more respected cousin sucrose (50% glucose, 50% fructose). Fructose is cheap, very sweet, and causes all kinds of problems. It is the primary cause of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, obesity, bad cholesterol, high insulin) and all the attendant problems and health risks. The movie in particular attacks soft drinks, sugared juices and gatorade as being the #1 culprits but makes it clear that adding sugar to the vast majority of manufactured foods is a huge problem.
This isn't any big news in some ways. Anyone who thought that drinking a Big Gulp at 7-11 was good for their health clearly was tuned out pretty seriously. However, there are probably a lot of people that drank Gatorade and thought they were drinking something targetted at elite athletes instead of a giant bowl of sugar that would ruin their bodies after sufficient abuse. The amount of sugar we as a society drink in our pop and juice is disastrous but those are the obvious things - knowing that bread all has high fructose corn syrup in it is something you only find out but carefully reading the ingredients list. Solutions to the current dietary problems we face are easy to think of but very hard to implement as there are tremendous vested interests trying to maintain the status quo. Sure, we should all stop drinking pop and adding fructose to our foods but how do you implement that when the majority of the food we purchase in stores has this stuff in it and it isn't dangerous in the short term? Presumably we do it the same way we have reduced the incidence of trans fats in food - educate people until eventually they demand foods that are fructose free and let the market respond accordingly. Not exactly fast, but I don't see it going any other way.