Rich Diets

Among the factors considered to be potential contributors to this condition was the "affluent diet." Obviously, individuals' diets differed, but typical patterns in the more prosperous Western countries revealed considerably higher levels of sugar, salt, and fat than existed in diets elsewhere. Almost all recommendations up to that point had consisted of "at least so much of this" and "don't risk being short of that," particularly to encourage maximum growth in the young.

But now there is an entirely new type of research on dietary factors that could have adverse long-term effects when nutrients are consumed at high levels for long periods. One factor is total energy intake. People whose intake is not limited by a shortage of money and who burn fewer calories because they do not engage in much physical work or exercise tend to gain weight. Grossly obese people are, in general, poor health risks - for diabetes, for example, as well as for cardiovascular heart disease. One can calculate the number of calories a person needs to consume to maintain an ideal weight, but appetite can be compelling, and obesity is a problem for millions of people, in terms of both physical health and self-esteem. Nutritional science has not been able to provide a simple solution, though the dietary changes to be discussed next have been of some help in this regard. (It should be noted that health risks increase only with severe obesity. Many people feel compelled to become abnormally thin, and young women in particular may become seriously ill from anorexia, that is, "failure to eat.")

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