Rethinking America’s leading export

You would think the United States of America–the pillar of strength and virtue– would want to export things that improve the health and lifestyles of those less fortunate than we are. After all, we are the country that gave the world The Peace Corps. (Although Peace Corps members are a dying breed, so perhaps that’s not the best example…)

But do you know what our leading export is now? Diabetes and heart disease–by way of fast food.

I read an article recently that said, “With the proliferation of fast-food restaurants, there has been concern among health experts that diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome, along with an increased incidence of coronary heart disease, are exported hand-in-hand with Big Macs and Whoppers.”

A “concern”? Really? Is that all they’ve got?

But along with this concern came a study done in Singapore (with a lead investigator from the United States, believe it or not). And it’s true, you just can’t make any assumptions when it comes to nutrition. After all, look at the assumption the “experts” made for all those years about higher protein diets causing an increase in heart disease risk. When they actually studied these diets, just the opposite turned out to be true.

So let’s see what happened with this recent fast food study, shall we?

According to the analysis of more than 50,000 Singaporeans, those who ate fast food twice a week or more had a 27 percent increased risk of developing diabetes. And a 56 percent increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease.

Their conclusion about fast food was that it may just be a marker for a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle in general. But Singapore is one of the richest places I have ever been–and most people are in tip-top shape. It’s like the Switzerland of southeast Asia. So thanks for hedging your bets guys, but let’s be real.

Fast food kills.

“Western-style fast food intake and cardiometabolic risk in an Eastern country.” Circulation 2012; July 2 (epub ahead of print)