Diet and Health

Programs 264, 265


CDs available via special order.    HumanMedia ®

Free Podcast Available

In this one-hour Humankind documentary, we hear from the growing movement of physicians and others who — concerned by the upsurge in obesity, diabetes and heart disease — are placing greater emphasis on advising patients about more healthful eating. But changing our diets is notoriously difficult, especially in a culture that heavily promotes unhealthy foods.

We examine current federal dietary recommendations that Americans significantly increase our intake of vegetables and fruits, and – particularly for men and boys – to cut back on consumption of protein. Yet, sale of meat products is setting records. And the portion sizes served in restaurants are often twice and sometimes triple what we need to satisfy hunger.

This “toxic food culture” is reinforced by the multi-billion dollar fast food industry, which serves up industrially-processed products, in place of naturally occurring foods. Yet, our eating habits are deeply ingrained; as famed anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 1 in 10 Americans actually follows the health guidelines for consuming sufficient vegetables and fruits. So we’re eating too many of the unhealthful foods, and skimping on foods that provide us more nutrition and naturally occurring phytonutrients, which help to protect us from disease.

We also hear in the program how nutrition education receives surprisingly short shrift in medical school. And we learn how industrial livestock production abuses the environment, producing substantial emissions of greenhouses gases, that are associated with climate change, as well as contaminating our drinking water.

To explain this picture, we hear from physicians Andrew Weil and Victoria Maizes of the University of Arizona Medical School; Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group; Susan Roberts, professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University; Dr. Aly Cohen, an integrative physician in Princeton, N.J.; and others.

Physicians Victoria Maizes (L) and Andrew Weil

Very few people sit down to meals cooked at home today anymore. Most people are eating food that’s manufactured…When we take food as nature produces it, and we transform it, almost always we reduce its nutritive qualities, and increase its dangerous qualities…Fruits and vegetables are the major sources of anti-oxidants, and protective ‘phytonutrients’ in our diet.”

–Andrew Weil, MD founder of the Univ of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine

There’s lots of reasons for why America became an obese nation… today we have got a toxic food environment where we can eat any time, overeating is fun. There’s just a surfeit of unhealthy food. And when food is in front of people, and excessively available, they eat it. You know, just in the moment that food attracts you, you get a neurological response to seeing the food, and you find yourself hungry, or unsatisfied, and you have that food. You gain weight, and then you gain more weight.”

–Susan Roberts, nutrition researcher, Tufts University

Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group

Aly Cohen, physician







To learn more –

NY Times- Health consequences from eating at chain restaurants

Bloomberg News- Americans are eating a record amount of meat

CDC– Adult Obesity Facts

Hear our special series, The Diet-Climate Connection and download a free booklet

Paul McCartney’s “Meat Free Mondays” campaign — excellent site with great recipes, etc

The food system contributes more than a fourth of all greenhouse gas emissions

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce from the Environmental Working Group

Dr. Andrew Weil / Victoria Maizes’ Center for Integrative Medicine at Univ. of Arizona

Prof. Susan Roberts’ iDiet

Dr. Aly Cohen’s, The Smart Human


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