We are facing a major epidemic in this country that could mean our children will
be the first generation to not live longer than their parents.
Nothing illustrates the perverseness of subsidies and our political system better
than the politics of sugar, which has led to a major danger for our children and
our country: The epidemic of obesity and type two diabetes along with an
alarming rise in metabolic syndrome.
“Diabetes and cardiovascular disease cause death and disability,” said Professor Paul Zimmet, Chair of the IDF Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention and co–author of the definition. “Almost 4 million deaths every year are a consequence of diabetes–related causes. And with diabetes set to reach 380 million people within a generation, the death toll can only rise. This is the first generation where children may die before their parents.”
The Next Epidemic?
Metabolic syndrome affects nearly 50 million Americans -- almost one in four American adults. Approximately 7 percent of adults in their 20s and about 40 percent of adults over age 40 meet the criteria for the syndrome. The prevalence in Americans over age 40 has increased by more than 60 percent in the past decade, Medco pointed out.
Although no clinical guidelines for the treatment of metabolic syndrome in children currently exist, the prevalence of this condition in children is on the rise. One out of eight children, ages 8 to 17, has been identified as having metabolic syndrome, placing them at greater risk for premature heart disease and diabetes, Medco noted.
The rise in obesity, diabetes type two and metabolic syndrome could put a major strain on our health care system.
Metabolic syndrome -- a condition characterized by a combination of hypertension, diabetes and obesity -- rapidly is becoming one of the United States' costliest health concerns, a new analysis suggests.
The average yearly pharmacy cost of treating adult patients over age 20 with metabolic syndrome exceeds $4,000 -- more than four times the average annual drug spend for all other patients, according to data released by Medco Health Solutions, Inc. The analysis also found that the number of adults being treated for the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome increased more than 36 percent from 2002 to 2004.
"Metabolic syndrome and its components -- diabetes and pre-diabetes, obesity, hypertension and abnormal lipids -- will likely become the major public health problems we face in the 21st century," said Dr. David M. Nathan, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"Its long-term consequences, including heart disease, stroke, and the other complications of diabetes, can be reduced with aggressive treatment of risk factors, but at a substantial cost. Lifestyle approaches should also decrease metabolic syndrome and its long-term health and economic costs," he added.
House Republicans are pushing back against Obama administration efforts to promote healthier eating in a spending bill that pays for food and farm spending.
High Fructose Corn Syrup sounds innocuous, and if you read labels in the store will find almost every product containing it. But your body metabolizes hfcs much differently than table sugar. With almost twenty percent of children becoming obese and diabetic, one has to wonder what is happening. This is nothing less than a major health epidemic.
The Corn Refiners Association. would have you believe that all sugars are the same and this has been their argument since the introduction of hfcs into our food in 1978. Americans eat about a half pound of sugar a day most of it in hfcs not sucrose.
A recently released Princeton study has thrown cold water on the contention that all sugars are created equal. Sugar in quantity is not healthy for anyone, but high fructose corn syrup appears to be more dangerous than table sugar. Because of politics and the support of higher sugar prices in America, hfcs has become the major sweetener in most foods, (even ones you would think contained no sugar), and all sodas. The rise of the use of hfcs can be directly linked with the rise of obesity and diabetes in young people and our population in general.
This problem is dealt with in the public as needing many interventions, diet and exercise, prescriptions to lose weight and lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and even surgery like Gastric Bypass. But what if it could be as simple as removing one ingredient from our diet?
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."
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.
This study naturally has come under attack by industries but the attacks are mostly biased and do not look at the study carefully.
Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at UCSF. dicusses in his video Sugar the Bitter Truth, a youtube video that has almost one and a half million hits, the chemistry of hfcs and how it acts on the body the same way as ethanol found in alcohol. If it were a matter of diet and exercise he asks, “Why do we have an epidemic of obese six month olds? Why does baby formula contains more hfcs than a coke?”
sugar the bitter truth
Because of the high price in sugar in this country, we pay twice as much for sugar than the rest of the world. Pepsi and Coca-cola switched in 1984 from sugar to HFCS. It has now become the major sweetener in most products in the grocery store because it is cheaper than sugar. Ketchup, cereals, cookies, pies, cakes.
A system of sugar tariffs and sugar quotas imposed in 1977 in the United States significantly increased the cost of imported sugar and U.S. producers sought cheaper sources. High-fructose corn syrup, derived from corn, is more economical because the domestic U.S. and Canadian prices of sugar are twice the global price and the price of corn is kept low through government subsidies paid to growers.
HFCS became an attractive substitute, and is preferred over cane sugar among the vast majority of American food and beverage manufacturers. Soft drink makers such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi use sugar in other nations, but switched to HFCS in the U.S. in 1984. Large corporations, such as Archer Daniels Midland, lobby for the continuation of government corn subsidies.
But back to the question of why is HFCS used: As many have guessed, cost is the only reason that HFCS is used in place of cane sugar. As I clumsily pointed out in another post, a 1/10th of a cent increase in sweetener, per serving, would cost Coca-Cola roughly $122,423,790.
Why is HFCS so much cheaper than cane sugar? The answer to that question may surprise you.
Because the government wants it that way.
The Federal Government accomplishes this in two major ways:
• Sugar Tariffs
• Corn and Sugar Subsidies
Add these two variables together, and the result is sweetener made from corn.
The difficulty in explaining how the above work is in understanding that none of the above would exist without at least tacit complicity between the Sugar Industry, the Corn Industry and the United States Department of Agriculture. Remove any one of those three players from the equation, and the tariffs and subsidies most likely go away.
Do you want to know who makes HFCS? It's Archer Daniels Midland. Do you want to know who pays for HFCS? That'd be you and I, in the form of the taxes we pay to the U.S. Government. The government spent $41.9 billion on corn subsidies from 1995 to 2004, a trough of money at which ADM gladly ate. ADM buys 12 percent of the nation's corn at a heavily subsidized price from farmers, and turns it into high-fructose corn syrup and ethanol.
"Tom Philpott summed up the issue and the politics of sugar well in his recent post concerning the idiocy of our obsession with corn.
That’s grim news. On average, Americans get 10 percent of their total caloriesfrom HFCS--and kids, who rank among its heaviest users, get an even higher percentage of calories from it.
And even if HFCS isn’t metabolized differently than table sugar--and some non-industry-related observers remain doubtful about the Princeton study--the ubiquitous sweetener would still be a lousy product. As I and others have argued before, rise of HFCS as a cheap sweetener (see chart, above) has helped push up overall sweetener consumption to unseen levels. In short, a gusher of sweetener from cornfields to food factories has resulted in billions of additional, and nutritionally void, calories in the American diet."
In acreage terms, fully a quarter of U.S. farmland is typically planted in corn.
Between 1995 and 2006, the government paid out $56 billion in corn subsidies, the Environmental Working Group reports. Corn is our most lavishly subsidized food crop, by a wide margin; it drew more in subsidies over that period than wheat ($22 billion), soybeans ($14 billion), and rice ($11 billion)--combined.
Between May 1982 and November 1984, the U.S. government reduced the sugar import quotas six times as the USDA desperately tried to balance foreign and domestic sugar supplies with domestic demand.
While USDA bureaucrats worked overtime to minutely regulate the quantity of sugar allowed into the United States, a bomb went off that destroyed their best-laid plans. On November 6, 1984, both Coca Cola and Pepsi announced plans to stop using sugar in soft drinks, replacing it with high-fructose corn syrup. At the drop of two press releases, U.S. sugar consumption decreased by more than 500,000 tons a year — equal to the entire quotas of 25 of the 42 nations allowed to sell sugar to the United States. The quota program drove sugar prices so high that it wrecked the market for sugar — and thereby destroyed the government's ability to control sugar supply and demand. On January 16, 1985, Agriculture Secretary John Block announced an effective 20 percent cut in the quota for all exporting countries.
The Commerce Department estimates that the high price of sugar has destroyed almost 9,000 U.S. jobs in food manufacturing since 1981. In early 1990, the Brach Candy Company announced plans to close its Chicago candy factory and relocate 3,000 jobs to Canada because of the high cost of sugar in the United States. Thanks to the cutback in sugar imports, 10 sugar refineries have closed in recent years and 7,000 refinery jobs have been lost. The United States has only 13,000 sugar farmers.
Why do we continue this sickening cycle that is risking the health and jeopardizing the lives of our children? Politics. Our sugar politics have cost us billions, jobs and now our health. Politics got us here and is keeping us from doing what we need to do. And the government knowa we have a major problem.
Overweight and obesity in children are significant public health problems in the United States. The number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled since 1980 and the prevalence among younger children has more than doubled. According to the 1999-2002 NHANES survey, 16 percent of children age 6-19 years are overweight (see Figure 1). , , Not only have the rates of overweight increased, but the heaviest children in a recent NHANES survey were markedly heavier than those in previous surveys.
The CDC has also recognized the severity of the problem and the implications for our future health. They have stepped up programs to identify diabetes in younger children.
In response to this growing public health concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are funding a 5-year, multi-center study, SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth, to examine the current status of diabetes among children and adolescents in the United States.
Cooperative agreements were awarded to six sites to establish a multi-center registry system that will cover over 6 % of the children and adolescents in the United States. The main objectives of the study are to assess the magnitude and burden of diagnosed diabetes and to develop criteria to differentiate between the types of diabetes among young people in the United States.
Figure 1. Prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents ages 6-19 years
Our children are paying the price for our sugar politics. Giving subsidies to help ruin our children's health is unconscionable. Avoiding pinpointing the probelm and addressing it would be the prudent course of action. Instead we let politics dictate business profits even at the expense of our children’s lives.
The rise in obesity, TT diabetes and metabolic syndrome will further strain our health care system.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in children is on the rise. One out of eight children, ages 8 to 17, has been identified as having metabolic syndrome, placing them at greater risk for premature heart disease and diabetes.
Our children are in trouble and we need to do something about it. Immediately. This could be the first generation not to live as long as their parents. If this were a flu epidimic every news organization would be reporting it and our government would be marshalling the resources to combat it.
This is nothing short of an emergency. The lives and health of our children are at stake. Unfortunately hfcs has invaded the market place and can be found in almost every product you buy, even bread, making it hard to avoid. The first key is to eliminate sodas and sweetened soft drinks, and yes, even juice, which has hfcs, from your child’s diet. Even drinking one soda a day can cause a weight gain of fifteen pounds a year. Our diets should have as many fruits, vegetables and raw foods as possible in it to avoid hfcs. Industry will obfuscate and try to keep the real problem disguised by wrapping it in a plethora of medications and advice, but just eliminating hfsc could go a long way towards saving the health and lives of your children. No sugar is good for you but hfcs appears to be much worse and could be the culprit in our child/adult/American obesity epidemic.