The “Coca Cola conspiracy” and the obesity epidemic
In the late 1960’s the US, through conventional hybridization techniques, succeeded in creating new types of corn, dramatically increasing yield per acre by reducing the space required per plant as well as increasing the number of ears per stalk. This development was seen as a phenomenal opportunity for the nation with the world’s greatest capacity of corn production. All that was needed was a way to increase demand for corn. Although shifting the Western diet to grits was not likely, there were other options.
Corn fed hogs and Chicken would now become less expensive to produce in confined animal feeding operations which would later proliferate. But due to the inherent inefficiency of converting grain calories into animal calories the development of processed foods that use corn itself and not animal products would be far more profitable than selling pork or chicken.
Corn syrup and corn syrup solids had seen their uses multiply under the post WWII “better living through chemistry” paradigm. Now they would also be much cheaper to produce. In 1973, Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, altered US farm policy to permanently subsidize the increased production of corn, opening a new era in which corn-based processed foods would become far cheaper than their rivals. The convenience and fast food industries were poised to take off. Soft drinks that cost pennies to produce could be marketed at fantastic profit. Corn derivatives would find their way into virtually every processed food.
In the video below, Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the physical damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) are the cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.
The processed foods industry knew that their products would cause an epidemic of obesity among their customers, but they also realized that their bottom line would grow exponentially. The FDA and USDA provided all the cover needed and then some by pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Saturated fat was demonized as a health hazard despite the fact that it had been a major part of traditional diets for the entirety of recorded history among most European cultures.
Subsequently, while Americans reduced the percentage of calories from fats in their diets to 30% from 40%, rates of obesity and cardio-vascular disease steadily increased.
The “low-fat” foods fad was a complete fraud. Convincing consumers to choose “lite” products allowed producers to substitute high fructose corn syrup for the relatively expensive saturated fat content in their products. The industrial trans-fats which were combined with the corn syrup turned out to actually increase the risk of cardio-vascular disease when compared to the consumption of saturated fats. These developments would have enormous implications for public health not just in the US but worldwide over the ensuing decades. The damage would eventually become too great to conceal.
In April 2009 Harvard School of Public Health issued a press release revealing the following research results:
Strong evidence developed at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and elsewhere shows that sugary drinks are an important contributor to the epidemic rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States. Faced with these growing public health threats, experts from the Department of Nutrition at HSPH believe beverage manufacturers, government, schools, work sites and homes must take action to help Americans choose healthier drinks. They propose that manufacturers create a class of reduced-calorie beverages that have no more than 1 gram of sugar per ounce-about 70 percent less sugar than a typical soft drink-and that are free of non-caloric sweeteners. They also propose that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require beverage manufacturers to put calorie information for the entire bottle-not just for a single serving-on the front of drink labels. […]
Americans consume sugary beverages in staggering amounts. On a typical day, four out of five children and two out of three adults drink sugar-sweetened beverages. Teen boys drink more than a quart of sugary drinks, on average, every day. A 12-ounce can of soda or juice typically has 10-12 teaspoons of sugar and 150 or more calories; the popular 20-ounce bottle size now prevalent on store shelves and in vending machines carries nearly 17 teaspoons of sugar and 250 calories. According to research at HSPH and elsewhere, sugared beverages are the leading source of added sugar in the diet of young Americans. If a person drank one can of a sugary beverage every day for a year and didn’t cut back on calories elsewhere, the result could be a weight gain of up to 15 pounds.
Consuming sugary drinks may have other harmful health outcomes: The latest research from HSPH published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed the health of 90,000 women over two decades and found that women who drank more than two servings of sugary beverages each day had a nearly 40 percent higher risk of heart disease than women who rarely drank sugary beverages.
They make the following recommendations:
Individuals: Choose beverages with few or no calories; water is best. Call manufacturers’ customer service numbers and ask them to make sugar-reduced drinks.
Food shoppers: Purchase less juice and cross the soda off your home shopping list. Skip the “fruit drinks” too, since these are basically flavored sugar-water.
Schools and workplaces: Offer several healthy beverage choices and smaller serving sizes. Also make sure water is freely available.
Government: The FDA should require companies to list the number of calories per bottle or can-not per serving-on the front of beverage containers.
In January of 2010 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released the following abstract of a newly completed study which finds no link between saturated fat intake and heart disease:
- Background: A reduction in dietary saturated fat has generally been thought to improve cardiovascular health.
- Objective: The objective of this meta-analysis was to summarize the evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD; CHD inclusive of stroke) in prospective epidemiologic studies.
- Design: Twenty-one studies identified by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE databases and secondary referencing qualified for inclusion in this study. A random-effects model was used to derive composite relative risk estimates for CHD, stroke, and CVD.
- Results: During 5–23 y of follow-up of 347,747 subjects,11,006 developed CHD or stroke. Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD.The pooled relative risk estimates that compared extreme quantiles of saturated fat intake were 1.07 (95% CI: 0.96, 1.19; P = 0.22)for CHD, 0.81 (95% CI: 0.62, 1.05; P = 0.11) for stroke, and1.00 (95% CI: 0.89, 1.11; P = 0.95) for CVD. Consideration of age, sex, and study quality did not change the results.
- Conclusions: A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”
In results published online Feb. 26 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, the researchers from the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute reported on two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity.
The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.
The second experiment — the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals — monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet.
“These rats aren’t just getting fat; they’re demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides,” said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. “In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes.” In addition to Hoebel and Bocarsly, the research team included Princeton undergraduate Elyse Powell and visiting research associate Nicole Avena, who was affiliated with Rockefeller University during the study and is now on the faculty at the University of Florida. The Princeton researchers note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity.
High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars — it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose — but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides make up the remaining 3 percent of the sweetener. Second, as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.
This creates a fascinating puzzle. The rats in the Princeton study became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose. The critical differences in appetite, metabolism and gene expression that underlie this phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but may relate to the fact that excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.
In the 40 years since the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet, rates of obesity in the U.S. have skyrocketed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1970, around 15 percent of the U.S. population met the definition for obesity; today, roughly one-third of the American adults are considered obese, the CDC reported. High-fructose corn syrup is found in a wide range of foods and beverages, including fruit juice, soda, cereal, bread, yogurt, ketchup and mayonnaise. On average, Americans consume 60 pounds of the sweetener per person every year.
“Our findings lend support to the theory that the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic,” Avena said.
The new research complements previous work led by Hoebel and Avena demonstrating that sucrose can be addictive, having effects on the brain similar to some drugs of abuse.
In the future, the team intends to explore how the animals respond to the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in conjunction with a high-fat diet — the equivalent of a typical fast-food meal containing a hamburger, fries and soda — and whether excessive high-fructose corn syrup consumption contributes to the diseases associated with obesity. Another step will be to study how fructose affects brain function in the control of appetite.
The Brutally Honest Coca-Cola Commercial You’ll Never See On Television
Coca-Cola plans to run its very first ad defending aspartame and the safety of artificial sweeteners. This move comes as a result of a dramatic drop in diet cola sales within the past year. This is great news as it goes to show how much of an impact we can really make by raising awareness about the health effects of aspartame. More people around the world are making better choices and you can read more about that and the dangers associated with the Coke here.
I came across this video and thought it would be appropriate to share in light of Coca-Cola’s recent move to bring awareness to and “join together” in fighting obesity. This comes before their more recent ad campaign to defend artificial sweeteners like aspartame. It’s the brutally honest Coca-Cola commercial you’ll never see on television. This is a voiced over version of the original Coke commercial which you can see here.
FDA Bans Trans Fats
Artificial trans fat will be removed from the U.S. food supply over the next three years under a ruling by regulators that the products pose health risks that contribute to heart disease.
There’s no longer a scientific consensus that partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, are generally recognized as safe, according to a final decision released Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The oils are used for frying and in baked goods as well as in confections.
Food companies will be able to petition the FDA to gain approval of specific uses of partially hydrogenated oils if they have data proving the use isn’t harmful. Companies will have until June 2018 to comply with the FDA’s determination, either by removing trans fat or gaining a waiver. The FDA said it hasn’t seen any data to prove that even low levels of partially hydrogenated oils are safe. … Full article
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February 6, 2010 Posted by aletho | Author: Atheo, Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Earl Butz, Food and Drug Administration, Harvard School of Public Health, Richard Nixon, Robert H. Lustig, United States | 29 Comments
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