The recent editorial from the Anderson Herald Bulletin addresses a very serious problem facing our country. Expanding waistlines are not only a serious threat to the health of our citizens but to the health of our economy.

The United States, while spending more than twice as much on health care as any other country, ranks only 41st in life expectancy. Spain spends one third as much per person on health care and yet has a life expectancy three years longer than ours. For the first time in decades our life expectancy has decreased and many doctors predict that our youngest generation may be the first in our history to not outlive their parents.

Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center Director Dr. David Katz says much of the problem is that the general public lacks clear and consistent advice about the role diet and nutrition plays in promoting health. He and a coalition of health experts all agree on six core principles of healthy living. These include: consuming minimally-processed, mostly plant-based foods; adopting a physically active lifestyle; avoiding tobacco, alcohol; getting adequate sleep; and cultivating social bonds.

Evidence that a plant-based diet leads to better health is overwhelming. Countries with the highest consumption of dairy and animal products have the highest death rates from heart disease, stroke and cancer. In the United States, 78 percent of deaths are due to complications from these diseases while they comprise less than 15 percet of deaths in countries like Laos, Thailand and Korea. Only 15 percet of the U.S. diet is comprised of non-processed plant-based foods while in these countries plant-based foods comprise 70-90 percent of the diet.

But don’t we need protein? Actually we consume as much as four times the protein we require. This leads to heart disease, kidney and liver damage, osteoporosis and unhealthy gut biomes.

If we are to reverse the increase in obesity and the chronic diseases associated with it, we need to take personal responsibility. Fortunately, there are many resources online to help you transition to a plant-based diet.

Sooner or later we must realize the answer is not yet another pill. The answer is spinach.

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