Western Diet - Bad for You?

Corinne Fratianne

Article Summary

Why is a "Western [hemisphere] diet" bad for you? FAT! But could there be more that makes our diet so terrible? CNN's journalist Meera Sethilingam thinks so.

The Western diet is spreading throughout the world and it consists of a high intake of red meat, refined sugars, and saturated fat, while lacking in fiber. One of the most known common foods would be processed fast food. Something as common as a pepperoni pizza has high fat and carbohydrate content, along with cured, processed meats atop. Following that, it is common to see candy bars at nearly every store check-out counter loaded with fructose and palmitic acid, both lowering the immune response. “Some studies have linked too much red meat with a shortened life span.” Finally, sugary drinks have a “high sugar content, increasing the likelihood of obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions.”

Comparatively, other diets seen elsewhere seem to have better health effects. The Mediterranean diet contains low intake of red meats, sugar, and saturated fats. It has a high intake of fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Diets lacking fruit & vegetables can be low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber – crucial to growth and health.

The Japanese diet is known for high intake of soy protein and vegetables. Specifically, diets in the Japanese Okinawa islands contain large amounts of fish, whole grains, soy protein, and vegetables.



Meera Sethilingam, CNN.

Meera is from London, England and attended the University of London at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a "world-leading center for research and postgraduate education in public and global health."

With this degree of education regarding health, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that Meera is a credible author of this article.



CNN stands for The Cable News Network and was founded in 1980.

I don't believe that CNN is a completely unreliable source of information, but can be incorrect at times. The unofficial site, Politifact.com, currently rates CNN at a 17% true on the truth-o-meter on their website. This is an awful score, but compared to other networks such as FOX and NBC, it rates around 10% higher on true statements made on the air. This is very unofficial, but to put how reliable sources from CNN are, they are usually quite unreliable based on these possible findings.


  • Some studies have linked too much red meat with a shortened life span.

My independent research if there are studies that link too much red meat with a shortened life span proved to be correct. Both the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Harvard had studies suggesting that this fact is correct.

  • Fructose and palmitic acid in chocolate bars cause a decreased immune response.

I found that fructose and palmitic acid are both in chocolate bars and do decrease the immune response. Palmitic acid, a saturated long-chain fatty acid, triggers inflammatory signaling of astrocytes in a study by the NIH.

  • Diet of the Japanese Okinawa islands consist of fish, whole grains, soy protein, and vegetables.

What I could find on the Okinawa diet suggests that it is centered around vegetables & other plants. It is >96% plant based, centered around sweet potatoes. The highly anti-inflammatory diet also is antioxidant. Like 90 years on average with diet along with physical activity included daily. TODAY, things have changed as the Western diet inhabits the islands, leading Okinawan's from the leanest to fattest Japanese culture.


Trustworthy or No?

Though CNN.com might not be the most reliable source of information, I checked three facts that stood out to me in the article and fact checked them at reliable sources (.org, .edu, .gov) to confirm them and found them all to be true and supported at other websites. I would trust the facts presented through this article by Meera Sethilingam.