Did you catch the “news” cycle on Thursday, December 8?
If so, you probably saw something about the life expectancy of Americans dropping for the first time since 1993, according to a report from the Center for Disease Control.
“This is a big deal,” wrote Slate. Vox deemed the report “a disturbing finding.” S. Jay Olshansky, a University of Illinois-Chicago public health researcher, declared the findings to be “ominous” in an article for ABC.
The horror! Our fears are confirmed! The apocalypse is coming!
Or, maybe not.
Turns out, despite the fear mongering and misleading reporting, it’s actually pretty straightforward.
The CDC report is based on 2015 death certificates, not long-term patterns or in-depth analysis of our habits that may increase or decrease life expectancy.
According to that report, the biggest uptick in cause of death was heart disease.
Despite ABC’s slant on the news, the uptick was not “unusual,” particularly in light of last month’s report from the NPD Group, a global market research firm.
They found that millennials increased their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables by 52 percent. Meanwhile, baby boomers decreased their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables by 30 percent.
So how about some news you can use: folks who don’t eat fruit and veggies have a higher risk of heart disease.
Instead of doomsday news flashes, we should be having a conversation about our diet. Not only does it directly impact our health, it has far-reaching consequences for our economy and climate.
Did you know it takes over 1,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, or that conventional cattle grazing is one of the leading contributors of methane gas in our environment?
Did you know that red meat, dairy, and grain make up the Western Diet, which causes increased rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, or that our federal taxes go towards subsidizing all three?
Simply put, our massive red meat, dairy, grain and sugary beverage intake is directly harming our personal health and our planet.
Now let’s flip the conversation around: According to a study by Georgia Organics and the University of Georgia, we lose out on more than $780 million per year by consuming produce grown outside of our state.
On top of that. if every household in Georgia spent just $10 per week on local food, it would keep $2 billion in the state, while reducing overall carbon emissions.
It would also improve our health, as eating fresh, local produce delivers the highest quantity of nutrients to your body.
Rather than launch into a discussion about healthcare, climate change, and our economy – three areas of major concern for almost every American – the mainstream media will sensationalize their reports and quickly move on.
Talk about fake news. Now that’s a real epidemic.