I think it is hard in general.
America is a diverse country -- racially, economically, and culturally. The diversity is wonderful, but with it does come a certain amount of, well, diversity that other (less diverse) countries do not have to consider when they holler, "We make it work! You can, too!" and that will always mean, no, we can't agree across the board about anything, really.
Culture absolutely does impact diet and I think people really do not give it the credit due for the obesity epidemic. I see a lot of people claiming that it is almost entirely an economic situation that causes someone to eat poorly. And I would disagree wholeheartedly. We are upper middle class, in a low cost of living area, and have access to quality food. But my husband was raised by immigrants, in an area full of immigrants (from the same country), and it's a culture that has a heavy, heavy food influence. His entire life was occasion for "special meals." Sure, they liked their vegetables, too, but the amount of empty carbs taken in daily is insane and can't be combated a few "good for you" foods on the side. And if you were to suggest to any of his family or culturally-similar friends that their diet could use some tweaking, you will be looked at like you personally kicked St. Francis while he was holding a puppy. Even if the majority of them are overweight and suffering medical complications from that obesity.
Getting my husband to realize it took a long, long time. And if we lived close to his family and childhood friends (12 hours away), I doubt his habits would have changed at all.
And the naysayers about healthy school lunches are right, unfortunately. We're expecting minimally trained cafeteria workers to turn healthy ingredients into appetizing food and the children (who may not have been otherwise exposed) to just take to it? They tried it when DD16 was in public elementary school for a year. The food was so unappetizing that even the teachers ended up bringing their own food. And the children typically threw their trays out or brought food from home. They scrapped the program because, frankly, at least before they didn't have children going to their afternoon classes hungry (and therefore fatigued and unable to concentrate).
And even if they turned the tables there and invested in the cafeteria workers, and the food was appealing and eaten, it's one meal a day, five days out of the week -- all other meals and snacks come from home.
If my husband were to change only his lunch habits when he is at work, and not his general (overall) eating habits, it wouldn't touch the potential problems.
And then we have, as you mentioned, a problem with people not having time or, frankly, the desire to cook from scratch. I fall into the "no desire" category. I do it, because it needs to be done, but I stay at home. I hate cooking in general, though. It's going to be almost impossible to catch the "have no desire" crowd and teach them to cook healthfully. You can't teach me to enjoy cooking; some people do, some do not. And the "don't have time" crowd? We can't add more hours to their day and we have to be honest -- it's more time consuming to cook appetizing healthy meals from scratch, than it is to run through a drive-thru for a few burgers at the end of a work day.
Lastly, I think it's important to note that a general "good for you" diet proposed, to everyone across the board, is a bad idea. Different people have different dietary needs (genetics, amount of energy exerted daily, etc.) and there is no one way to eat healthy for every single person. Ask me how I know Four of the five people in this house have sincerely different dietary needs.
Greta mentioned on the McDougall thread about how many people die due to diet. Coincidentally, I overheard two different convos discussing the same thing yesterday. Being the time of year when people generally think about health I thought it might make good food for thought, ha!
I'm very wary of food evangelism but very much agree that our collective diets are in need of overhaul, what we are doing is obviously not working, we are continuing to get fatter and more unhealthy by the year.
Do you think we will figure this out or just continue on track until those at a "normal" weight are the outliers? I just keep thinking of the movie Wall-E, are we headed there and are we going to stop?
Do you think there is anything we can do to make Americans healthier?
Can we put aside our differences and agree on anything?
I love the idea of revamping school lunch programs but I see critics respond that food just ends up being thrown away and both sides of the extremes argue that whatever they do isn't healthy anyway, the vegs want no meat and the lc/keto people argue it is too many carbs.
I love the idea of WIC like program for everyone with kids under 5 giving out whole foods, fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, and dairy. But if people don't have time to cook will it help anything?
I'm not personally opposed to a soda tax, I think sodas and sweetened drinks are one of the absolute worst foods in terms of our obesity epidemic. Of course, people argue that they should have free will to eat whatever they want (didn't we have the same argument about cigarettes?).
Edited by AimeeM, 13 February 2018 - 11:31 PM.