Obesity, free trade and the US primaries

The world is getting fatter and it appears like one big culprit (I’m not saying it’s the only one) is artificial sugar and the products it enables with low nutrient to high calorie content. (research for: 1,2,3,4 research against: 1)

The interesting thing is how this came to be a global problem. High fructose corn syrup came out from a want in the 70s-80s in the US of lowering food costs. Since corn is such a great crop in terms of how many calories it can feed for the amount of room it takes, the US started subsidizing growing corn crops. (1,2)

Now the problem is that since the US subsidizes cheap corn. That corn gets exported, not just to Canada but around the world with the help of free trade agreements.

A really good takedown of how this all happens is explained by Hasan Minhaj here:

One thing that doesn’t seem to be mentioned is how US politics plays into this. Even the most left leaning candidates in the US presidency race won’t touch this topic. Why?

One reason is explained by Al Gore (1,2,3). Basically, Iowa is the first primary. Every electoral cycle, Iowa and New Hampshire are the first to vote and having a sense of momentum is very important in the primaries. The first votes determine if you are a “real” candidate or not. There have been attempts to change this, most recently in 2012 (1).

I don’t have any real evidence to support it, but I’ve always wondered if something so seemingly unrelated such as when each state in the US votes for their presidential candidate could have an impact of global obesity. Maybe one day someone with the resources to research this will look into it.

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