Obesity in America: What’s in a Chocolate Bar?

It has been said that you are what you eat; and if that is true, well … we’ll get to that in a moment.  In the meantime, there is no denying the fact that when it comes to eating healthy, many Americans are simply out to lunch.  At this point in our collective history, more than one out of every three adults is technically obese[1] while 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are well on their way. Moreover, it’s not as if 30% of Americans have always been this overweight.  This is trend that has has arisen largely over the past 20 years.  Check out this brief video and you’ll see what I mean.


Isn’t that remarkable?  Even more staggering is the fact that our food is labeled for us.  So there is no question as to what is put into our food, and yet, in spite of the available information, many of us, myself included, simply fail to take heed.  We eat what we want and pay little attention to what it is doing to our bodies.

I wonder, would knowing what our eating habits are doing to someone else’s body make a difference?

Take chocolate for instance.  Eleven years ago, the mainstream media began to investigate the use of child labor and child slaves in the billion-dollar a year cocoa industry.  At that time, Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) attempted to introduce legislation that would have mandated a labeling system for the chocolate industry – a labeling system that would have certified chocolate as child labor free.

Not surprisingly, the cocoa lobby in Washington pushed back hard; and unfortunately, Congress couldn’t rally the necessary votes needed to pass the bill.  In the end, the only thing Congress managed to extract was an agreement from the major transnational cocoa companies to adopt a voluntary system of self-regulation that was supposed to halt the worst forms of child labor and slavery.

The problem is, billion dollar industries that are asked to self-regulate with little oversight or risk of being held accountable tend to do almost nothing.   And this is why there are still almost 2 million children working in the cocoa fields on the Ivory Coast of Africa, only 5 to 10% of which receive any pay for their labor.[2]

So the next time you step on a scale and find yourself cringing at the number you see, ask yourself this: where is my food coming from, and would I want to eat it in front of those that are asked to produce it.

[1] According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), obesity is defined by having a body mass index greater than 30.

[2] This data is culled from the Tulane Final Report PDF that can be accessed through the following website: http://www.childlabor-payson.org/

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One Response to Obesity in America: What’s in a Chocolate Bar?

  1. Ryan M. Mahoney says:

    I just found a company that buys coffee beans from Uganda, and they donate all profits for water wells in Uganda. They appear to be Christians too.


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