Obesity Epidemic in Children
On Sunday evening (2/10/2001) the CBS TV show 60 Minutes reported that America's teenagers were suffering from an obesity epidemic because of fast foods, and focused upon one element in particular, soda.
Morley Safer reported that the consumption of fast food directly parallels the rise in childhood obesity over the past 20 years.
Unfortunately, 60 Minutes brings a bias to your television screen. To your living room. To your refrigerators. To your diet.
Two other factors have more than doubled in the past twenty years, but 60 Minutes will not be investigating their role in the obesity epidemic. Got Milk ads. Pizza ads. Ice cream ads. Television relies upon dairy products. Without Pizza Hut and Dominos commercials, where would 60 Minutes be? As television ads for cheese increase, so too does cheese consumption. So too does obesity.
Why did 60 Minutes focus on soda? The dairy industry told them to, that's why. Last year, the dairy industry began a marketing effort that blamed obesity on soda.
What area of food consumption has actually tripled in the past thirty years? Soda consumption? No way. It's cheese consumption.
During the 1970s, the average American consumed ten pounds of cheese per year. Today, the average American consumes more than thirty pounds of cheese per year. Twenty more pounds.
Last year, in 2000, the dairy industry placed an advertisement in American newspapers reporting: "Everyone knows today's kids are fatter than they used to be, and one of the big culprits is soft drinks. The average teenager drinks 868 cans of soda a year, according to the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council Mid East. That represents a bunch of empty calories - about 122,000 - and no small chunk of change ($434 at 50 cents a pop). Meanwhile, milk consumption has dropped precipitously - 23% between 1970 and 1997 - at a time when teens are in critical bone building years. Only 21% of Ohio high school students drink three or more glasses of milk each day. Kids can drink milk and stay slim; an 8-ounce glass of fat-free skim milk contains only 80 calories." Do these same kids go to Dominos Pizza and order the low-fat skim milk pizza? Do they get the 1% milkshake from Dairy Queen? Do they request the no-fat cheese on their Big Macs?
Dairy public relations firms compare 1970 to 1997. Soda consumption has actually decreased. Consumers are drinking more bottled water, iced teas, and juices. Their "empty" 122,000 calories add up to just 334 calories per day. Kids normally eat over 2,000 calories per day, and that is metabolized. What change have we witnessed in our typical Western diets between 1970 and the year 2001?
Imagine ten pounds of saturated fat on the belly of an obese child. Picture something the size of a watermelon - ten pounds of greasy yellow high caloric fat. That's the equivalent amount of fat consumed by the average American each year from just cheese. This does not factor in the dangerous heart-unhealthy saturated fat from ice cream, butter, or liquid milk.
There is no saturated fat in soda. There's not a bit of fat at all in a can of Coke.
One pound of Wisconsin's finest cheddar contains 1824 calories, and 115 grams of fat. Ten pounds of cheese contains 1150 grams of fat, or 3.15 pounds, a greasy-blob of fat globules the size of one large honeydew or two small cantaloupes. That represents America's 1970 consumption. You can more than triple that for today.
We had no obesity epidemic in 1970 when children were consuming more soda than they do today. The one factor in our diets that has increased dramatically is cheese consumption.
The dairy industry would have you believe that soda is to blame. They market their high calorie fat-saturated hormone-filled product and ask you to "Behold the Power of Cheese." Indeed!
Click here to read about how obesity is now a worldwide epidemic.
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Autism & Cheese Consumption Rates
The current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2003;289:49-55) reports that rates of autism have increased 1,000% in the United States over the course of the past 20 years. If this is not an epidemic, I don't know what is.
Atlanta, Georgia was the site of the largest epidemiological autism study ever conducted. Scientists have determined that 34 out of every 10,000 children between the ages of 3 to 10 years had mild to severe autism.
Based upon the results of this study, it is estimated that 425,000 American children have some form of autism. What are we doing differently in the United States in the year 2003 that we did not do in 1980?
Twenty-three years ago, the average American was eating ten pounds of cheese per year. Today, the average American eats 31 pounds of cheese per year.
Is it merely cheese, or is there some poison-filled magic bullet to be found in America's favorite comfort food?
The answer is already known to many scientists. Cow milk naturally contains an addictive opiate similar to morphine. That opiate is casomorphine, an endorphin-like substance, and has been shown to be involved in autism.
One well-controlled study focused on children with autism who had abnormally high protein by-products in their urine, and therefore were more likely to be sensitive to casein and gluten. One group of these children was fed a strict casein- and gluten-free diet for 12 months. This group had significantly fewer autistic symptoms than the remaining children, who were not fed this diet. In another study that examined the effectiveness of a casein-free diet alone, children with autism were tested for food allergies and pre-selected for sensitivity to milk. Any other foods to which the children were allergic were also removed from the diet for 8 weeks, and significant behavior improvements resulted. [It should be noted that a sensitivity to dairy products in a person who is past the point of consuming human mother's milk is normal and it is not an "allergic" reaction; it is not abnormal.]
Ten pounds of milk are required to produce one pound of hard cheese. The levels of casomorphine become concentrated as milk is converted to cheese. During the 1970s, 100 pounds of milk were required to produce the ten pounds of cheese consumed by the average American child. Today, 310 pounds of milk are concentrated into the 31 pounds of cheese consumed by the average child in a year. The number of kids diagnosed with autism has subsequently soared by a factor of ten times.
Florida researcher, Robert Cade, M.D., and his colleagues have confirmed that casomorphine from milk and cheese is a probable contributing factor in attention deficit disorder and autism. They found Beta-casomorphin-7 in high concentrations in the blood and urine of patients with autism. (AUTISM, 1999, 3)
Eighty percent of cow's milk protein is casein. It has been documented that casein breaks down in the stomach to produce a peptide casomorphine, an opiate. (Panksepp, J., Trends in Neuroscience, 1979, 2)
A third scientist produced evidence of elevated levels of endorphin-like substances in the cerebro-spinal fluid of people with autism. (Gillberg, C. (1988) Aspects of Autism: Biological Research Gaskell:London, pp. 31-37)
For children with autism, dairy products may very well be a major factor. Many studies have shown that dairy consumption affects the behavior of children with autism. So whether dairy products are a cause of autism in children predisposed to autism, or they make autism worse, obviously dairy products are linked to autism, and for this reason (and many others) should not be a part of a child's diet.