Sweets That Kill

Like many teachers and parents, I tried my best to get my students NOT to eat candy or chew gum in class.

However, it was an uphill battle, which I usually lost, as I would find out when the students’ desks were periodically cleaned out.

I kept on losing the battle, even though almost all of my poorer students had relatives who had become obese, had high blood pressure, or had lost limbs or gone blind from the effects of sugar diabetes. I never did a study, but I am willing to bet that all of those relatives had diets high in sweets, bread, soft drinks, and candy.

Sugar is more addictive than crack, some researchers report.

 The latest National Geographic has an article on sugar, one that backs up what I tried to say back then.

It points out that a very large fraction of the slaves taken from Africa to the Americas were employed in growing and refining sugar – a murderous enterprise all around, but one that made enormous profits for a few predatory, racist, capitalist growers businessmen and merchants who profited from the misery and deaths of millions of Africans and indigenous people while causing tooth decay and much worse among the population of the ‘civilized’ world.

A little quote from the article:

     “…in the 1960s the British nutrition expert John Yudkin conducted a series of experiments on animals and people that high amounts of sugar in the diet led to high levels of fat and insulin in the blood — risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. But Yudkin’s message was drowned out by a chorus of other scientists blaming the rising rates of obesity and heart disease instead on cholesterol caused by too much saturated fat in the diet.”

     Note: Yudkin’s research did NOT implicate meat, red or otherwise, nor fat, nor cholesterol as causes for obesity and diabetes. Instead, his research pointed to sugar as the culprit. But the medical and drug establishments completely ignored his data, and said the problem was animal fat and cholesterol.  People listened to that advice and began eating fat-free this and low-fat that — stuff that tasted like cardboard. The only way to make that crap palatable was to fill it with “fat-free” sugar, so that’s what the food corporations did. Continuing the quote:

     “As a result, fat [now] makes up a smaller portion of the American diet than it did 20 years ago. Yet the portion of America that is obese has only grown larger. The primary reason, says [Richard] Johnson [a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver], aloong with other experts, is sugar…’

“Recently the American Heart Association added its voice to the warnings against too much added sugar in the diet. But its rationale is that sugar provides calories with no nutritional benefit. According to Johnson and his colleagues, this misses the point. Excessive sugar isn’t just empty calories; it’s toxic.

(my emphasis)

no candy

Published in: on July 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm  Comments (4)  
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Another Area Where the ‘Common Wisdom’ is wrong: Diet and Exercise

The most recent issue of Scientific American features an article that claims to be what science tells us about the current obesity epidemic, and what to do about it. Unfortunately, there is very little science in the article, and lots of wishful thinking, such as finding ways to keep everybody hungry all the time.

The author’s thesis is that simple overeating is what causes Americans and others to get fat. Their solution is the usual mantra: eat less meat and more grains and other carbohydrate-rich foods, and do lots of aerobic exercise. The problem is that this prescription isn’t based on history, and it isn’t based on science. There are no studies that show that that sort of diet and exercise regime actually leads to losing any significant amount of body fat.  (I do NOT consider losing 6 pounds of fat after a year of near-starvation and 20 or more hours of aerobic activity to be a significant weight loss. My bathroom scale can have me losing that amount after a large bowel movement or two!)

In fact, almost any farmer can tell you that if you want to make your cattle fat, then you should feed them lots of grains, instead of their normal diet of grass.

What’s more, the author manages to write an entire article about obesity without once mentioning the ‘elephant in the room’ that has changed many formerly fit pre-colonial people into people who are simultaneously malnourished and obese, all over the world.

The big change has been from high-fat, relatively meat-rich diets to more Western diets consisting of cheap, starchy vegetables and grains filled with carbohydrates that humans did NOT evolve to eat. Over and over again, native societies – like our own Native Americans here in the USA – that have made this dietary shift have developed diabetes, obesity, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, strokes, dental cavities, and much more in their adult populations, while the children simultaneously suffer from serious dietary deficiencies, often being on the verge of starvation.

Looking at sub-Saharan Africa, it’s hard to think of people who work harder, all day long, than most African women, and they eat a diet high in grains, beans, and starchy vegetables and fruit (yams and plantains, for example). Yet many of them are fat or obese.

It seems to me (though I am not an expert at all) that it’s much more likely that the USDA nutritional pyramid, and the current, anti-scientific propaganda in favor of low-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, are causing, rather than curing, the current world-wide obesity epidemic. The author of the article apparently thinks that high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets are mere fads to be dismissed out of hand; he doesn’t even analyze any evidence in favor of, or against, their effectiveness at all.

How can a major article in 2011 that purports to be on ‘what science teaches us about obesity’ fail to even acknowledge Gary Taubes’ ground-breaking review and synthesis, now in two books and several articles, concerning the relevant literature on nutrition and obesity? Or are all the studies that were read and cited by Taubes also mere fads? You can look at some of his articles and books here, here, and here, and you can find his blog here.

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