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Avoid overconsumption of carbohydrates

Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 01:09

For decades, Americans have been consuming large quantities of refined carbohydrates that have led to increases in obesity, heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other diseases that have sparked a serious health crisis in the U.S.

A study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) stated that the total per-capita use of caloric sweeteners increased by 86 percent between 1909 and 1997. As of last year, nearly 34 percent of Americans are obese and no state has an obesity rate less than 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The average American's diet is atrocious, consisting of foods high in carbohydrates — more specifically, high-fructose corn syrup, an addicting additive found in most food items. The diets of students are not much better. Students frequently consume soda, white bread, cookies, crackers, pasta and other carbohydrates that force their bodies to retain more fat.

Many so-called health experts claim that in order to lose body fat we must get at least 60 percent of our calories from carbohydrates, yet the rate of obesity and heart disease have grown coinciding with the increase in carbohydrate consumption. Sadly, the cure has been confused with the symptom when it comes to the cause of obesity.

Saturated animal fat, a nutrient accused of weight gain and disease, is actually an essential fat. Benefits of saturated fat include improved brain and cardiovascular function, stronger bones and better immune system health, according to lewrockwell.com.

A Danish study conducted over 12 years and published in the June 2010 issue of AJCN compared carbohydrates to saturated fatty acids in terms of heart attack risk. The study found that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (GI) would actually reduce the risk of a heart attack.

High-GI foods include white bread, most types of rice, corn chips and jelly beans, according to glycemicindex.com.

For those trying to lose weight, the best way is to eat foods that our bodies are designed to eat, such as whole foods like eggs, fish, chicken, red meat and other quality meats — along with plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as small amounts of dairy. Eating this way can be difficult, especially on a college student's budget, but it is simply a matter of making the right food choices, whether you are eating out or at home.

If there is to be any progress in the fight against obesity, there needs to be an open debate on what causes weight gain. If something is not done now to combat this health crisis, then the country may be looking at the biggest health disaster it has ever faced.

Frank Nuñez is a senior majoring in accounting.

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