Could we be poisoning ourselves with the supposedly benign substance we consume, that we call sugar? There are a lot of mysteries that plague our society: rampant obesity, the prevalence of diabetes, and many new heath scares. I saw The Men Who Made us Fat on tv yesterday, and it was shocking. You can watch the ,a href=”https://vimeo.com/search?q=The+men+who+made+us+fat”>3 part series in Vimeo.
Obesity is rampant. It is even seen in elementary school kids. This is shocking. Kids run all day and play like, well, kids. How can they become overweight? While I continue to struggle to loose a little more, and to not put more on, I am puzzled by what I see around me. Is it inevitable for us to become obese when past generations did not have this problem? Is this a first-world problem?
Obesity and being overweight significantly contributes to a worsening society. How did we come to this state of affairs and how do we change it?
Here is the theory. Corn syrup, or fructose, was invented in the 1960s. This sweetener was significantly cheaper to use in foods than sugar, so the manufacturers replaced sugar. Put this sweetener into almost all products. Not only did they replace sugar, they increased the quantities of fructose used. Fructose, suppresses leptin, a hormone that tells us that our food is too sweet. We become addicted to the food and eat more. The cycle recurses. This, we’ve known since the 1970s. John S. Yudkin wrote this in the 1970s in his study Pure, White & Deadly.
Saturated fats were blamed for society’s overweight tendencies. Cut fat out and all will be well? it did not work that way, as now we see so many low fat products but our obesity has not waned. The story does not add up when we blame fat for our ills. Fat makes food taste good. Eliminate fat and you have tasteless food. Eliminate fat and replace it with sugar and you have a catastrophe of addiction and obesity, but high company profits.
High fructose levels would explain why we have such an obesity problem. We are addicted to fructose. Our bodies crave it and we cannot help ourselves, no matter how we rationalize not consuming it. No amount of exercise can overcome this addiction.
Is there a solution? The tv show did not state any solution, but now that we know the problem we can more easily move forward. Stop eating processed foods and stop drinking soft drinks. They are addictive and, in large quantities, poisonous. Cook from fresh ingredients and products that are not processed much.
As a value shopper I like getting more for my money, and this plays directly into the supersizing phenomenon. Grow soft drinks larger, but for their proportion, charge less. This encourages increased consumption because it is better value. Unfortunately this also encourages over eating. Thus is born supersizing. Who can resist getting more for our money, but we do not tend to cut back on our daily consumption to compensate. As a result we take on more calories for the day. When this becomes a long-term habit, our weight must rise.
It is interesting to me that our human psychology is used or manipulated, perhaps unknowingly, to our detriment. We all want more value for money. We are creatures of habit in our portion size. Increase either calorie-rich foods or supersize our portions and we will gain weight. Who is at fault when food manufacturers offer us the opportunity to eat more, but do not actually shove the food down our throats? In their view we should take all the blame, as we need not eat the whole candy bar. Are they correct?
Irregardless of fault, there are detrimental health consequences to supersizing, and increased fructose consumption that may be beyond control for many people. By not solving this problem our society will suffer the negative consequences of obesity.
Addendum 2017 Jan 05 It hides in chicken stock and hot sauce: Going sugar-free for one month reveals where it lurks