As Americans, we represent the fattest nation on the planet. And that’s not a contest we should be so quick to win every year.
Mannie Barling knows this better than most, because he’s seen it from both sides – as a cancer patient who became obese and as an attorney for big healthcare.
“We pride ourselves in this country for having the safest food supply in the world, but nothing could be further from the truth,” said Barling, co-author of It’s Not Your Fault – Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction (www.HowToEliminatePain.com). “It is the chemical additives like MSG, dyes, high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients used in the more than 14,000 packaged foods sold in the US that made us the most obese country on Earth.”
Barling served as in-house counsel two of the first HMOs in Los Angeles, including one that treated more than 13,000 patients a month. Barling actively participated in the management of these clinics and convalescent hospitals including reviewing physician utilization, interviewing doctors and specialists and evaluating malpractice claims. This experience exposed him to some of the more dramatic patient outcomes that arose from obesity. But that’s not his only source of experience.
“In the 1990s, I was diagnosed with malignant colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, IBD, IBS, gout and arthritis, and I was given two years to live,” he added. “I was a mess and stuck in either my bed or a wheel chair. Luckily, my wife and co-author, Ashley F. Brooks, is a nurse, and spent the better part of ten years nursing me back to health and working to eradicate the damage done from years of eating the toxic packaged foods that we all take for granted as being safe, and eat almost every day. Packaged foods nearly killed me.”
Barling and Brooks also watched for years as doctors prescribed diet and exercise to help their patients lose weight. But none of them ever mentioned the chemicals in food. Barling and Brooks spent more than seven years researching Barling’s illnesses and discovered key facts that the medical and food industries had been ignoring or hiding.
“Americans who eat fast foods as well as bottled, caned, frozen, packaged foods or even well-known diet foods are becoming chemically addicted to the food additives in processed food,” he said. “This addiction is very real and the primary cause of weight gain and obesity in the U.S. There is no clearer evidence to support our argument than the fact that the increase in obesity problems started in the U.S. after these chemical food additives were placed into commerce. The bottom line is that obesity is not your fault — the culprit is the pre-packaged food that we have been fooled into believing is safe and healthy for us. It’s not healthy for us, and, in fact, it’s killing us.”
The cost for American families isn’t just their health — it’s their wealth, too.
“In a study published in Health Affairs, obesity in the U.S. now carries the hefty price tag of $147 billion per year in direct medical costs, just over 9 percent of all medical spending as compared to 6.5% in 1998,” Barling said. “In fact, people who are obese spend almost $1,500 more each year on health care – about 41 percent more than a normal-weight person. Prescription drug costs average about $600 a year more than a person of average weight – an 80 percent increase. Beyond those costs are the disability and early deaths caused by illness and inflammation secondary to weight gain and obesity. The bottom line is that we need to eat better, avoid the pre-packaged foods on the shelf and go back to fruits and vegetables and meats that are fresh and organically produced in order to avoid the negative outcomes that go with obesity.”