Packaged Trouble


By Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.

Recent health reports show that the rising obesity rate in America may have leveled-off for most groups, but not so much for people between 45 to 64 years of age.   In 2011, the obesity rate in America fell to 26.1%, from 26.6% in 2010 and 26.5% in 2009.  However, 30.8% of middle aged folks are still classified as obese.  Even worse, the same study reveals a 41% rate of obesity among blacks in their middle-ages.

When it comes to those of us who are older there is a common challenge in overcoming slower metabolism and muscle loss conditions, which makes burning calories more difficult.  The importance with knowing this is that there are health risks associated with obesity, such as the potential of mild insulin resistance, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, and other serious issues.

By and large, food and beverage producers care very little about our individual fat challenges.  They are concerned more with selling as much of their respective product as possible.  If these businesses did care they would not work so hard with producing stuff in a can, box, or wrapper.  Those who care work to deliver fresh food from local farms in as close to a natural state as possible.  If older people are ever going to beat the current obesity epidemic it begins and ends with eating more fresh whole foods.

Packaged foods are habitually overloaded with preservatives and chemicals.  Take for example; the typical breakfast bar contains rice, which can transpose into carcinogenic arsenic.  Particularly organic brown rice syrup that is used in lieu of corn syrup in some organic cereal bars as a sweetener.   However, there is no large panic for those who eat only one cereal bar a day, the worry should center on those who are on gluten-free diets where rice is a very common substitute for other types of grain, which means a much larger ingestion of a potentially harmful amount of arsenic may occur.

This same preservative is sometimes used in some packaged baby formulas.  Along with baby formulas and cereal bars, energy drinks sometimes add organic brown rice syrup as the primary ingredient that can contain six times the US federal limit for arsenic levels in drinking water.  Parents can easily avoid arsenic in baby formula by choosing a brand that does not include organic brown rice syrup.

At least be sugar alert and read labels to avoid calorie surprises.  For example, a small 6-ounce Yoplait Original 99% fat free-Lemon Burst is sweetened with 31 grams, or 7 ¾ teaspoons of processed sugar. A 20-ounce bottle Snapple Antioxidant Water-Agave Melon has 32 grams, or 8 teaspoons of processed sugar. A 16-ounce Snapple Iced Tea, (Peach, Lemon, or Raspberry) has 46-50 grams, or 11½ to 12½ teaspoons of processed sugar
Mr. Jones is a marketing strategist with the Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), sharing his view on mismanagement practices of packaged foods & beverages.