What's Uncle Sam eating? One thing's for sure - it's not the healthiest fare. "The typical American diet is promoting major health problems, causing serious environmental pollution, and unintentionally creating poor working conditions for those who harvest, process, and prepare our food," Dr. Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a written statement.
Today the group is marking Food Day, an annual event designed to encourage Americans to eat better - and to watch out for the food and food trends on the group's "Terrible 10 Foods" list. Keep clicking to see what's on the list...
Coca-Cola is sugar-loaded, "liquid candy" and has contributed mightily to the obesity epidemic, says CSPI. A can of Coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar.
McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, Coke, and fries
This classic McDonald's meal typifies many fast food meals. It's short on fruit and vegetables but bulging with calories, salt, saturated fat, added sugar, and white flour. These ingredients promote obesity, high blood pressure, and other diet-related diseases, the CSPI says.
What's the problem with salt? Americans get too much of it - from packaged foods, restaurant meals, and salt-"enhanced" meats and poultry. It's the single most harmful substance in our diet, says CSPI. The group blames excess sodium for more than 100,000 fatal heart attacks and strokes each year.
Cows that are raised in feedlots are typically given antibiotics to prevent sickness and growth hormones so that they can reach slaughter weight faster. The CSPI says feedlot beef is unhealthy for humans - high in saturated fat with possible traces of antibiotics.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Kellogg's Froot Loops
Despite its name, Froot Loops don't actually contain any fruit - just sugar. The cereal is "gussied up with synthetic dyes," CPSI says, and is one of a host of junk foods marketed heavily to kids.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Kellogg's
Jack DeCoster's egg farms
A nationwide salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,500 people in 2010 put Maine egg farm tycoon Jack DeCoster in the spotlight. His farms crammed birds in filthy cages with reckless disregard for consumers' health, says CSPI. The incident dramatized the need for tougher food-safety laws to clean up the whole food industry.
Powerful lobbying groups
Interest groups in the soft drink, food processing, advertising and other industries can thwart important reforms of marketing to kids, food labeling, farm policies, and other issues, the CSPI says.
Taxpayers pay $6 billion a year in subsidies to companies that blend corn ethanol into gasoline - and for efforts to market billions of gallons of that gasoline a year. Using corn for fuel also leads to higher prices for corn and foods with corn ingredients, says the CSPI.
It's used in bread, pizza crusts, pasta, doughnuts, cakes, burritos, cookies, and dozens of other foods. White flour has spurred the obesity epidemic by adding more vitamin-depleted, fiber-poor calories to the diet, says the CSPI.
Vending machines that dispense soft drinks and candy make it all too easy to have an unhealthy diet 24/7. The CSPI calls them "ubiquitous, mute, metallic monsters."