Now that I understand the actual mechanism involved in weight gain (elevated insulin levels due to excess carbohydrate consumption), it is no surprise to me that there is an obesity epidemic. All I have to do is take a little trip in the "wayback machine" and think about the things I used to eat as a kid.
When I was around 5 or 6, this was typical fare in my home. To the right is the approximate carb count.
Kellogs Corn Flakes (2 cups) - 48.43g
Milk (1 cup) - 11.71g
Orange Juice (1 cup) - 25.79g
Peanut Butter Sandwich - 41.64g
Apple Juice (1 cup) - 28.97g
Banana - 27.65g
Chicken Pot Pie - 41.5g
Milk (1 cup) - 11.71g
Ice Cream (1 cup) - 31.97g
Total - 269.37
This is what would be a "healthy" day with mom keeping a tight lid on the sugar bowl. The times when mom & dad were working a lot, we had a babysitter in the afternoons, and just dad watching us at night while mom worked. It was more typical during that time to add in a couple of sodas at 41g of carbs each, swap sugar smacks for the plain corn flakes (64g of carbs), and add in a Hostess Ho Ho or three (54g of carbs). That would push the approximate carb level from 269 up to over 420.
Now remember, carbs = sugar. It doesn't matter if it starts out as toast, a soda, a banana or a chocolate donut. 50 grams of carbohydrates = 1/4 cup of pure sugar once that food is digested. Even without added sugar in my example above, I was still getting over 1 1/4 cups of sugar a day. When the parents weren't paying attention, I was getting over 2 cups.
My teen years were even worse. I had a serious Mountain Dew habit, had Snickers Bars and Little Debbie Snack Cakes several times a week, and ate burritos and grilled cheese sandwiches from the school cafeteria. Then I discovered beer.
Later I made a foray in to vegetarianism. This was supposed to be a way for me to be healthier and stop the weight creep. Instead it got worse since an even larger portion of my diet was composed of carbohydrates. By this time I was a full blown sugar junkie and didn't even know it. I thought I was eating healthy by choosing oatmeal instead of sugary breakfast cereals, whole wheat bread instead of white, and eating pretzels instead of potato chips. But I had actually swapped one form of sugar for another.
By finally avoiding sugar in all its forms, I am regaining my health. I still get angry thinking about how I used to eat, and the foods my mom thought were good for me. That poor woman read a lot about diet, went to Weight Watchers for her own problems, but never knew the real facts. By not knowing carbs = sugar, she inadvertently turned me in to a full-fledged sugar abuser. Now I know that sugar can be disguised as pasta, rice, bread, corn, potatoes and more. I also learned that it is an unhealthy addictive substance that ruins your health. Kind of like the food equivalent of crack.
As long as the medical community and government officials ignore the fact that carbs = sugar, parents will continue to turn their kids in to spastic little addicts. At first they will wonder why their kid is so hyper. Then when they get older, they will wonder why their kid is fat and how they ended up with type 2 diabetes. It's kind of like wondering how someone grows up to became an alcoholic when you have been giving them daily shots of Jack Daniel's since birth.