While tiring of the term “trending,” this bit of news sure is—or should be—on everyone’s hot topics list. You see, just as Michelle Obama revamped school lunches, the World Health Organization wants us to rethink what we’re eating, too.
Remember, if you will, that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 championed by Mrs. Obama funds the National School Lunch Program at a cost to taxpayers of $12 billion annually. And just recently, Obama has allocated another $8 million to bolster implementation.
In effect since 2012, gone now are pepperoni pizzas, nutter-flutter sandwiches, and colorful slushy drinks. In their place, schools must now offer students a daily menu of a meat/meat alternative, along with a veggie, fruit, whole grain item, and milk, either fat-free or 1% low fat, unflavored. In turn, kids must choose at least three of them.
All for the good, right? Only one problem: Look at what kids are tossing into trash cans, says LabDoor.com:
- 74% of their veggies
- 47% their fruit
- 19% of their entrees
- 25% of their milk
So while the government forces healthy food choices on school kids, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer report now warns us in no uncertain terms that some of our favorite foods can kill us.
According to the report, just 50 grams of any of the following processed meats every day ups our risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. In his “War on Delicious,” TIME Magazine’s Jeffrey Kluger pictorially represented what that looks like. Here you go:
- 6 slices of bacon
- 1 hot dog
- 3 slices of ham
- 5 slices of salami
- 2 slices of Canadian ham
And while it’s no surprise that pepperoni is processed, as is sausage, even chicken nuggets are. Who knew, right? Even worse, turkey bacon and the grass-fed varieties are apparently no better. The only good news is that, if a product is made with white meat, it won’t contain heme iron, a molecule that “might contribute to cancer.”
Meanwhile, processed meats contain the preservative nitrites, which “often turn into nitrates in the body, where they react with amines in the meat to form carcinogenic compounds that can damage DNA,” explains Kluger. Oh, and if celery juice is used instead, it does the same thing, so no winning there.
Then there’s the matter of red meat, defined by the report as “mammalian muscle meat, including beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.” The conclusion: While high processed meat diets cause about 34,000 cancer deaths every year, an estimated 50,000 are caused by diets high in red meats.
Moreover, and as if all that’s not enough to take in already, cooking those meats at high temperatures produces two cancer-causing compounds in animals: heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Fried, roasted, or grilled, makes no difference!
All this gives new meaning to “eat your vegetables,” especially when combined with what we already know about trans fats, saturated fats, and sodium. The final blow, though, comes on Thanksgiving, as reported by TIME’s Alexandra Sifferlin. Evidently, that upcoming turkey dinner with all the trimmings adds up to some 4,500 calories and is like eating:
- 7 Burger King Whoppers
- 9 large boxes of McDonald’s fries
- 2 medium pepperoni Pizza Hut pizzas’
- 11 Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers
- 10 Arby’s Beef n’ Cheddar sandwiches
Best bet: Short of going vegetarian, enjoy everything in moderation and, despite it all, have a very happy Thanksgiving, too!.