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U.S. farm policy geared towards driving down prices for corn and soybeans is a significant contributor to the nation’s obesity epidemic, according to a report released by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
Food Without Thought: How U.S. Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity, found that low prices for corn and soybeans over the last several decades have spurred investment in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and hydrogenated vegetable oils (Omega-6 transfats).
The introduction of these ingredients directly mirrors increases in obesity rates in the U.S, the report found.
While prices for crop ingredients from corn and soybeans - high fructose corn syrup and Omega-6 transfats - have decreased, prices for fruits and vegetables, which are grown with relatively little government support, have steadily increased.
“The food industry and consumers are following the distorted market signals driven by our farm policy,” said Mark Muller, director of IATP’s Environment and Agriculture Program and co-author of the report. “If we want to seriously deal with obesity, let’s create markets that promote healthy food production and consumption. Right now, farm policy is doing just the opposite.”
The historical ratio of Omega 3:Omega 6 in the human diet is 1:1. Deviation from this balance has been implicated in many disease conditions including cardiovascular, immune, and Alzheimer's disease. For each gram of Omega-6 oils you eat, it is recommended that you balance your intake with 1 gm of Omega-3 fish oil.
Food Without Thought: How U.S. Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; April 2006.