food

Federally subsidized food has come under scrutiny as a study looks at whether the food we get our hands on every day is actually pushing us towards worse metabolic health.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at the diets of 10,308 Americans and what they ate on a given day. They used this information to find out how much of their diet was subsidized by the government.

Corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, sorghum dairy and livestock are all subsidized by the government, and although it doesn’t sound too unhealthy, the high levels of processing involved with a lot of the food consumed across the country.

A lot of these foods were turned into highly processed fatty foods or into sweeteners such as high-fructose Corn syrup.

The chief of the CDC’s epidemiology and statistics branch in the diabetes division, Dr. Ed Gregg, explained: “In the U.S. and many other places, an excess of subsidies in these [foods] ends up leading to a conversion into foods like refined grains and high calorie juices, soft drinks with corn sweeteners and high fat meats.

“It’s basically the way that they’re used that ends up being detrimental.”

According to the study, 56.6 percent of America’s calories come from food which is subsidized by the government, the foods that are made cheaper and more accessible to people. However, these foods don’t seem to be lining up with the kinds of foods recommended in the government’s dietary guidelines.

They compared the amount of subsidized foods that people ate and compared it to their waist size, their BMI, their blood pressure, and other markers in their blood, all of which can indicate a risk of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Compared to those who ate the most subsidized food, those who ate the least were found to have a 37 percent lower chance of being obese, a 41 percent lower chance of having belly fat, and 34 percent lowered risk of elevated inflammation.

The author’s concluded that “Among US adults, higher consumption of calories from subsidized food commodities was associated with a greater probability of some cardiometabolic risks. Better alignment of agricultural and nutritional policies may potentially improve population health.”

The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.