The “double-burden” health crisis becoming a global epidemic

I’ve explained before how sugar is an anti-nutrient that prevents your body from absorbing the vitamins and minerals it needs. Now there’s a new study showing just how dangerous—and far reaching—this problem is.

A new study out of Egypt linked diet quality with obese mothers and malnourished children.

You might not think of obesity and malnourishment as going hand-in-hand. But the frightening truth is, they do. And it’s becoming a global epidemic. Before I go into that, though, let’s go over some of the details from this new study.

Researchers examined data from 25,065 mothers and their children from Egyptian Demographic and Health Surveys in 1992, 1995, 2005 and 2008.

They found that maternal obesity in Egypt rose more than 10 percent between 1992 and 2008—from 22 percent to 32.3 percent. But even more disturbing, a significant number of these women had children who were malnourished. A phenomenon researchers dubbed a “double-burden” household.

This malnourishment wasn’t due to scarcity of food. In fact, Egypt is largely a middle-class country. And unfortunately, these days, that means widespread access to cheap, processed, sugar-laden foods.

If your diet is based on large amounts of these types of foods, you simply can’t get all the nutrients necessary to produce healthy children. Period.

Case in point: The researchers found that children who were fed chocolate, cookies, or other sweets were 51 percent more likely to come from a so-called “double-burden” household. In stark contrast, children who were fed fruit and vegetables were 24 percent less likely to come from these households.

This study only focused on the impact food quality has on size—causing obesity in mothers and stunted growth in children. But I have no doubt if the researchers had dug deeper, they would have found even more alarming signs of malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies. In both the mothers AND the children.

It would be easy to simply blame the parents here for feeding their children—and themselves—poorly. And, to some extent, it’s true. But the real roots of this problem go far deeper.

You see, in Egypt, the government subsidizes sugar and bread but not fruit or vegetables.

Sound familiar?

Our government does the same thing. It can’t seem to get beyond the Depression-era mentality that we need to give the masses cheap food to keep them fed. So it keeps issuing nutritional guidelines to the public based on these subsidized foods. The end result? People are being overfed, and undernourished.

Despite how lucky we are in this country and the tremendous freedoms we have, we’re in the same boat as Egypt is when it comes to nutrition—or lack thereof. (And even worse when it comes to obesity statistics.)

And unfortunately, if we listen to the government-issued guidelines on what we should be eating, that situation isn’t likely to improve anytime soon. In fact, the government actually updates its nutritional guidelines every five years, and they’ll be releasing a revised version this year. There are a few notable changes coming down the pike that you need to be aware of. I’ll discuss them in detail in the upcoming March issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter, so be on the lookout for it! (And if you’re not already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.)

In the meantime, you can start focusing on proper nutrition for yourself and your loved ones right now.

How do you do that? Start local. Find the closest farmer’s market and do as much of your shopping there as you can. (Many of them operate all year long, so chances are, even in February, you can track one down.) Opt for organic, free-range, grass fed meat as much as possible. And perhaps most importantly, get rid of the processed junk foods in your pantry. Yes, even the ones boasting “reduced fat,” “whole grain,” and “low sugar” on the packaging. They might seem like “healthier” options, but the fact is, they’re not doing you or your family any favors.

Truly nutritious foods—ones that will help you and your kids thrive—don’t need buzzwords on their labels. In fact, some of the healthiest foods you can feed your family don’t have labels at all.


“Households with a Stunted Child and Obese Mother: Trends and Child Feeding Practices in a Middle-Income Country, 1992-2008.”Matern Child Health J, epub ahead of print 12/12/14