Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Consumption of soft drinks and high-fructose corn syrup linked to
obesity and diabetes
New research published in the United States that followed 50,000 U.S. nurses reveals those who drank just one serving of soda or fruit punch a day gained weight more quickly than those who drank less than one soda a month. Those who drank more also had an 80% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This risk, by the way, was associated with those who drank drinks sweetened with either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
It seems that a soda a day does, in fact, promotes diabetes and weight gain. But, more importantly, this study is confirming what informed nutritionists have known for years, which is that high-fructose corn syrup promotes diabetes and obesity.
In a hilarious side note, by the way, I’ve been contacted by a couple of people from the Corn Refiners Association in Washington, D.C., who don’t seem to appreciate the fact that I’m pointing out high-fructose corn syrup promotes diabetes. This CRA group, of course, represents corn growers, and corn growers depend on the revenues from high-fructose corn syrup so they can grow and sell their corn.
One of their reps has informed me that high-fructose corn syrup is a “wholesome natural ingredient” that does not promote diabetes and is produced by hard working farmers throughout the Midwest.
In other words, people who work for the Corn Refiners Association are insisting that high-fructose corn syrup doesn’t promote diabetes. And yet, here we have research that followed 50,000 nurses showing an 80% increased risk of type 2 diabetes when people consumed either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. And not in huge doses, by the way, all it took was one soft drink or one fruit drink a day to boost this risk of diabetes.
To make all this more interesting, we also have a person from the Harvard School of Public Health named Walter C. Willett who’s quoted as saying, “Anyone who cares about their health or the health of their family would not consume these beverages.” Kudos to Mr. Willett for having the courage to stand up and speak the truth about high-fructose corn syrup.
What is the Corn Refiners Association afraid of happening here? They’re afraid that all of the anti high-fructose corn syrup research and information is going to turn this ingredient into the next big tobacco debate. They’re afraid that junk food companies and fast-food companies (and especially soft drink manufacturers) are going to be blamed for the nation’s obesity crisis in the same way big tobacco companies are blamed for lung cancer.
And it’s sort of hard to tell where most doctors are going to fall on this issue. It wasn’t too long ago when doctors were being paid by cigarette companies to actually endorse cigarettes. So it’s really no surprise that there are some doctors on the payroll of the Corn Refiners Association who are going to stand up and deny that high-fructose corn syrup causes diabetes in the same way that tobacco executives deny nicotine is addictive.
We’ve all seen the actions of the sugar industry and how hard it is lobbying to not only prevent the distribution of information that educates people about the links between refined sugars and chronic disease, but also to make sure that the government doesn’t alter any dietary guidelines that would cause people to make more informed choices about their foods and drinks.
And it seems this organization, the Corn Refiners Association, was created primarily for that purpose, to promote the interest of the corn growers. And while there’s nothing wrong with promoting the interest of corn growers, there is something wrong with saying that sugar doesn’t promote diabetes. In fact, this study is now being called a milestone in the debate over soft drink consumption. As Kelly Brownell, Director of the Yale University Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, explains, “This is a strong study which joins a number of others in showing that soft drink consumption is related to poor diet and obesity, yet the soft drink industry says the opposite.”
Now, what’s stupid about all of this? What’s stupid is that we live in a country where there are “on the take” doctors and researchers who would argue against the idea that soft drinks (see related ebook on soft drinks) promote obesity and diabetes. It’s basically common sense to anyone who has half a brain and has spent more than 60 minutes studying the issue. When you understand how blood sugar is regulated in the human body, how the pancreas works, and how the digestive system converts dietary sugars into blood glucose, it’s blatantly obvious that candy bars and soft drinks are foods and drinks that promote both obesity and diabetes.
For someone to drink these drinks and not be at higher risk of diabetes and obesity, they would have to be either some sort of freak of nature that violated the laws of the universe or they would have to be so incredibly athletic and so genetically gifted that somehow these dietary sugars had no effect on their physiology. Now, there may be extremely rare people like that, and maybe the Corn Refiners Association can find one or two such people, but by and large, the average person doesn’t have anything close to that sort of physiology.
Saying that high-fructose corn syrup causes diabetes and obesity takes about as much of a leap of faith as saying one plus one equals two. This is well proven. Heck, we even have doctors from Yale University Center backing this study and saying, yep, this is an obvious conclusion. We’ve got guys from the Harvard School of Public Health saying, yep, this study proves it and people shouldn’t be consuming these beverages. We have literally thousands of nutritionists and the better educated doctors from around the world standing up and saying soft drinks need to be banned from vending machines. Soft drinks are causing chronic obesity and diabetes even among our nation’s youth. Folks, this isn’t something that’s really debated, not by any honest person out there. This is just something that’s being defended by the last bastion of a group of well-paid nitwits who have similar ethics to tobacco company executives.
And my message to the people from the Corn Refiners Association is to quit your jobs and go find some honest work doing something that actually helps people. Stop standing up and justifying the harvesting and refining of an ingredient that is, frankly, shortening the life span of hundreds of millions of people and greatly reducing their quality of life while at the same time causing their healthcare costs to skyrocket. Go get yourself some honest work like digging fence post holes in Wyoming in the middle of February. Stop pretending that your organization has anything resembling good science backing it, because it doesn?t. You’re living a lie and you’re deceiving the American public in a futile effort to protect a dying industry.
Frankly, all those farmers represented by the CRA would probably be better off just growing some hemp. That’s what we really need in this country to help farmers: a hemp industry. Why don’t we legalize hemp and let these farmers grow hemp for making paper, creating textiles for clothing, making healthy hemp seed oils which offer outstanding nutritional benefits, and for other hemp-based products like car bumpers? (Yes, that’s right. You can make car bumpers out of compressed hemp.) Industrial hemp isn’t even a drug issue, by the way: you can’t smoke this stuff. There’s so little THC in industrial hemp (that’s the active ingredient in marijuana) that you’d have to smoke something like 100 pounds of hemp just to feel any high at all. That’s a whole lot of burning rope.
Now, maybe some of these guys from the CRA are familiar with the hemp industry, because it does sound to me like they have been smoking weed. But, alas, I gave them my promise that I would look at whatever information they would provide with an open mind. So, perhaps, they will give me a study showing that high-fructose corn syrup actually causes people to slim down and maybe, in fact, that’s where the makers of Slim-Fast got their idea of having the number one ingredient in their product be sugar. Maybe high-fructose corn syrup is a slimming agent and we’ve all been misled all these years into thinking that sugar makes you fat.
Then again, let’s think about this for a moment. What do farmers feed cows when they want to fatten them up for market? Corn, of course! If you want to look like a cow, all you have to do is eat lots of corn and corn by-products, including high-fructose corn syrup.