In the News: Is the Western Diet Going to Kill Us?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The week's top healthy living stories, gathered by our editors.

Following a Western Style Diet May Lead to Greater Risk of Premature Death
Step away from the doughnut (and the steak, the white bread, and the whole milk)… they might be killing us, according to a new study. From Science Daily

10 Ways To Be Healthier In 10 Minutes Or Less
Who has time to spend hours figuring out how to get healthy? SparkPeople loves quick tips for healthy living--don't miss these. From Huffington Post Healthy Living

Don’t Fear the Fish: 7 Easy Ways to Cook Stuff With Fins
Even seasoned home cooks can feel like a fish out of water when cooking seafood. Dive right in and overcome your fear! From Fit Bottomed Girls

F.D.A. Issues Warning on Workout Supplement
If you take dietary supplements for weight loss or fat burning, read the labels (and reconsider!). The FDA is warning that some ingredients in certain products carry serious health hazards. From

Study finds Americans sacrifice exercise time for food-prep time
The good news: We're spending more time cooking and prepping food. The bad news: We're using the time we should be spending on exercise in the kitchen. From HealthDay News

Dove ad urges women to see themselves as others do

When asked to describe themselves, many women underestimate their beauty, according to a thought-provoking new ad campaign. From

Get Lean While You Clean

A new book tells you how you can multi-task: clean your home while squeezing in exercise. (Could this be the antidote to our "cooking-instead-of-exercising" problem?) From

150-Calorie, On-the-Go Office Snacks

Need a bite to eat in the afternoon that won't leave you feeling bloated or tired? Try one of these calorie-conscious snacks. From

Vertical Abs Workout: 6 Standing Moves for a Six-Pack

Get on your feet--and work out your abs while you're at it! From

Study Points to New Culprit in Heart Disease

Meat itself might not be to blame for heart disease. A new study suggests it's a chemical that bacteria in your intestines produces after you eat red meat. From

Which stories are you talking about this week? 

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At least "The Lean While You Clean" article was not bad...

As for the "Western Diet Killing You" thing... it doesn't kill you if you don't follow it. You can't force people to change what they eat. How many people think that a Big Mac is healthy? How does exercise [or lack of exercise] play into this whole thing? Report
To answer SALTYCHOCOLATE's question, I think people refer to it primarily as a "Western" diet because many of the eating habits they're describing originated here. Let's face it, in general Americans (who seem to be considered the dominant force in "western" civilization) have a bigger-is-better mentality - about everything. We seem to have a need for bigger houses, more land, bigger cars and yes, bigger portions. I have many friends from other countries, and one thing they all seem to find strange is the amount of food we eat on a daily basis. Many of them are confused and alarmed about the size of their portions when they sit down at a restaurant, to the point that they separate much of the food they ordered just to make the portions closer to what they're used to eating. They all seem to mention that this really isn't the case in the countries they're from (Italy, Ireland, Iraq, India, Japan, Vietnam, France & South Korea just to name a few) and that they've never seen so many comfortably overweight people before. I have visited Ireland, and can confirm that they don't serve portions anything like what we "Westerners" do. Same goes for Japan.

Sorry if it seems to lump all of Western civilization into what really is just bad habits, but in truth many of those particular bad habits originated here and have since spread to other places - not the other way around. Report
Well of course the Western diet can shorten your lifespan. Americans in particular gorge themselves on foods full of unhealthy fats, unnecessary oils / additives / preservatives, sodium and unhealthy carbs at every possible opportunity (New Year's, Easter, Mother's & Father's Day feasts, July 4th, birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas...and that doesn't cover regular restaurant and movie outings, cookouts on Memorial Day & Labor Day or pizza & nachos on game nights). We wash all that down with ridiculous amounts of soda, even more processed soda (diet isn't necessarily better for you), beer & sugary juices that have no real nutritional value. We make heavily-processed foods cheaper and easier to get than organic whole foods, especially in poorer neighborhoods or parts of the city. Then when we finally get a clue and start to feel bad about our weight (for the wrong reasons, of course), we pack ourselves full of processed & synthetic supplements, caffeine & energy "boosters" that can cause spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure. Either that, or we starve ourselves in the name of beauty. If we do manage to get back to a decent weight, the cycle starts all over again.

The answer to that question should be painfully obvious. Americans as a whole (don't rail on me, I know there are plenty of Americans who care about their health) eat portions that are much too large and we get angry when we happen upon a restaurant with smaller portions than we're used to, saying we're not getting our money's worth. We take in too much of some vitamins & minerals and not nearly enough of others. We feel the need to medicate EVERYTHING, even when all that was needed was an adjustment to our diets, and our doctors are more than willing to help us medicate. If all that wasn't enough, we don't get enough sleep, our employers don't understand the value or health benefits of vacation time and our increasingly busy lifestyles lead to mostly eating out. Do you see other nations experiencing epidemics of obesity and death from cancers and heart diseases as large as the US is dealing with? Not really, with the exception of those that are adopting or have adopted the Western style diet. Yet the minute someone tries to do something to help Americans get in better shape, drink more water or have access to healthier food choices (such as the current First Lady has tried to do by urging schools to change how they offer lunches and vending machine snacks or with her campaigns to get young people to exercise more or drink more water), everyone complains and says the government should stay out of their kitchens or the government shouldn't be deciding what you eat. Seriously? They do that anyway. Isn't that the point of the FDA? We want them around to inspect our foods and supplements and warn us of health hazards, but when someone tries to implement healthier options in foods and restaurants suddenly the government should stay out of our kitchens?

This is an issue mostly plaguing Americans and other countries that have adopted the SAD (Standard American Diet), and Americans need to start taking responsibility for their own health if they care about living longer. It really frustrates me the way our society thinks and approaches holidays. Sorry to rant, but I've been thinking about this for some time as I consider how my fiance and I will go about raising any children we decide to have. I don't want our children to become the typical American statistic - dangerously overweight and completely oblivious to the harm they're doing to themselves. We're seriously going to have to enact some strict measures to try and ensure we and our children avoid falling prey to the sad realities of the SAD as much as possible... Report
As an American living in Italy, I would qualify this statement by saying that it's the American diet, which is spreading to other parts of the Western (and some parts of the non-Western) world, that's killing us. My evidence to back this up is purely observational and anecdotal, but I can see an enormous difference in the eating habits between the Italians where I live and my fellow Americans back in the States. Surprisingly, it's not the kind of food that's eaten that I find to be most different, it's the quantity. Italians tend not to demonize particular food groups, even junk food, and regularly eat food white pasta, sweets and other things that are considered "bad" in some weight management circles. American portion sizes are out of control plain and simple and you just won't find servings that are that big here in Italy (though over-reliance on cheap and often nutritionally valueless fast and processed pre-packaged food certainly doesn't help). What you will find is a more balanced approach to eating that includes all types of food in moderate portions and much more eating at home. As a result, obesity rates are much lower in Italy on the whole and I've often marveled at being in a room with upwards of 100 people and not finding a single overweight person among them. Report
Seriously, why do people have to have so much animosity towards "western" civilization? Why do people want to call bad eating habits a "western diet"? Why not call it what it is, poor eating habits? Does anyone really think that bad eating habits are only limited to "western" civilizations? And It's not surprising that the more we try to regulate how and what people eat, the worse people's diets become. (And no, I'm not referring to regulating pesticides, additives, etc.) It's time to make people think for themselves and take control of their own lives. Report
I am GLAD to see this posted, as I was able to fb and tweet the info. Everyone obviously DOES NOT know this lol, just look around you! The fact that it was cited for reference will hopefully allow some of my friends who are not paying attention to allow the information to penetrate and start to make a difference in their lives, as opposed to just dismissing it as more white noise from their crazy healthy-freak friend. We must remember that in our culture, we are a very rarified sub-group in here, and I believe we should do all we can to share important information to people in a non-judgemental way. This information ready to Share is very helpful, so thank you, Stephanie Romine! Report
I dont think the Western diet is even a diet... Report
Really, people wasted time on a study like this? The findings are basically "fried, sugary, and processed food is bad for health" No kidding.

Although they also blame red meat, and there is nothing wrong with that. A person just has to realize that 8 oz of steak has more calories than 8 oz of chicken and plan accordingly to keep caloric levels where they need to be for that person's activity level. Report
Okay, I'm just trying to figure out who doesn't know this. I don't think anyone is oblivious to the fact that this way of eating is unhealthy. All those donuts and chicken wings with dips and fries, any processed food or any fast food is just junk. We like our junk! We aren't blind to the fact that it's not good for us, we just like it regardless. I am of the notion that moderation is the key. We all know that. Putting it into practice is the key. Once I reach my weightloss goal I will still on very rare occasions grab a donut or eat delicious pizza or have some party wings or share an appetizer tray at restaurants with my friend and/or family. This food is not for everyday eating. It's for a guilt free good time experience. People have forgotten that those stoves are in their house for a reason! Cook some meals people! By cooking I mean turn on the burners on the stove, not pop a processed meal in the microwave. You can't eat junk for every meal and expect to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But again, everyone knows this, we are just lazy. So, in my opinion we deserve what we get....myself included. I've finally waken up to the fact that I can't just consume whatever I want without consequences and I'm changing my eating habits. I go out to eat with my friends once per month and I stick to salad and protein and then I splurge with a nice dessert or a few alcoholic beverages....I've learned to pick and choose, I don't just indulge in everything on the menu like I used to and I COOK everyday, at least one of my meals, the other 2 meals are usually created from leftovers of previously cooked meals. We need to take ownership of our health. It's nobody else's responsibility. Report
Well at least I got 3 points. LOVELEY_BE says it all. Report
"Following a Western Style Diet May Lead to Greater Risk of Premature Death
Step away from the doughnut..."
Ya think? Report
Stop the presses! Processed food full of cholesterol is bad for you?! Who's funding these studies? Report
Life is fatal. Nobody gets out alive. That being said, I'm surprised that you don't have anything here about the latest information on the effects of Round Up on humans. I would much rather eat a bucket of french fries, than eat a fresh tomato grown in someone's garden that's been sprayed with Round Up. Report
As soon as the "Western diet" was described, I quit reading. At this point, it is a definite no-brainer that eating fried, sweet, refined, whole or high fat foods is detrimental to one's short and long term health. I did find the article about trading time for food prep and exercising interesting, though. It made me think about my own routine, and it was pretty quick for me to realize that I do it, too, but only if it is a week night. I try to do batch cooking on the weekends so that I have frozen meals for the week or things that I can throw together quickly, but if I have to do it during the week, I make that trade off without even thinking. How strange that I've never noticed that! Just one more thing to motivate me to plan ahead and get that batch cooking out of the way on the weekends! Report
Is this a serious question? Isn't it obvious? Report
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