Obesity affects life expectancy in numerous ways, ranging from cardiovascular disease to some types of cancer. Moreover, obesity - certainly in its morbid manifestations - can affect quality of life. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one-third of US adults are obese (indicated by a body mass index above 30). Even more shockingly, more than one in six children and adolescents are obese, a rate that has tripled since 1980.
Highly processed corn-based food products, with lots of chemical additives, are well known to be a major driver of weight gain, but, from a conventional growth-accounting perspective, they are great stuff. Big agriculture gets paid for growing the corn (often subsidised by the government), and the food processors get paid for adding tonnes of chemicals to create a habit-forming - and thus irresistible - product. Along the way, scientists get paid for finding just the right mix of salt, sugar and chemicals to make the latest instant food maximally addictive; advertisers get paid for peddling it; and, in the end, the healthcare industry makes a fortune treating the disease that inevitably results.
Coronary capitalism is fantastic for the stock market.
Market forces have spurred innovation, which has continually driven down the price of processed food, even as the price of plain old fruits and vegetables has gone up. But consumers are provided with precious little information through schools, libraries or health campaigns; instead, they are swamped with disinformation through advertising. Conditions for children are particularly alarming. With few resources for high-quality public television in most countries, children are co-opted by channels paid for by advertisements, including by the food industry.
Beyond disinformation, producers have few incentives to internalise the costs of the environmental damage that they cause. Likewise, consumers have little incentive to internalise the health-care costs of their food choices.
Taken from here