This Has Nothing To Do With Alan Greenspan | - Part 5


Me and the Missus are off to Maui for the next week or so to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. As such, there probably won’t be much, if anything, new here for a bit.

We were last on the island of Maui in 1991, so, I imagine a lot has changed since then. Hopefully, all the things that brought us back more than two decades later – warm tropical weather, lazy afternoons on the beach, snorkeling, Backscratchers, luaus, and a complete departure from everyday life as we know it – are all still the same.

Fed Up

The new documentary Fed Up came to my attention over the weekend, due in part to the appearance of Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at UC San Francisco, on Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

The movie adds to the discussion about nutritional guidelines and sugar in American diets that, someday, might become significant enough to lead to important change in what we eat as diet is increasingly blamed for out-of-control obesity rates and related problems.

As someone who was on track for “gain a pound a year each year you’re over 30″ up until about five years ago, I can sympathize with one of the first comments in the clip:

The message that’s been pushed on us is “it’s your fault you’re fat”

There are 600,00 food items in America. Eighty percent of them have added sugar. Your brain lights up on sugar just like it does on cocaine or heroin.

When combined with a corporate culture where profits are more important than health along with regulatory capture in government akin to what we see in just about any other big industry and you end up with one of the greatest public health epidemics in human history.

Where Few People Drink, They Drink A Lot

Via this item at The Economist’s Daily Chart feature, there are some surprising details about how many people drink in various countries around the world and how much those people who do drink drink in what is yet another example of how seemingly mundane data can produce all sorts of fascinating cultural insights.

In short, where few people drink, those who do drink consume an extraordinary amount of alcohol, perhaps to help them deal with the fact that they are going against the cultural/religious grain in their country.

France leads the way with the highest share of drinkers at 95 percent, but their consumption is relatively low, in line with the rest of the West. To no one’s surprise, Russia and their satellite nations consume the most alcohol on a per capita basis. Lastly, the huge difference between Saudi Arabia and UAE is pretty interesting as they’re right next to each other.

Is Sugar the New Tobacco?

My wife and I had our own personal revelation about diet a few years ago and will never go back to eating the way we once did, opting instead for a low-carb approach with virtually no sugar that is pretty easy to follow once you get the hang of it (Sucralose is a life-saver).

Here’s a story about sugar (the worst carb of them all) that seemed worth sharing:

Worldwide, 36 million people die of non-communicable (non-infectious, chronic) diseases. Some of those deaths are related to sugar. An increasing library of scientific evidence has linked sugar intake to caries, obesity and even cardiovascular diseases.

The evidence is clear: there is a direct association between sugar intake and death due to cardiovascular disease. As scientific and public knowledge on the effects of sugar increased, this led WHO (World Health Organization) to reconsider their recommendation for the amount of sugar that people should consume.

Previously thought of as an innoxiously sweet indulgence, some people are now asking whether in fact it is ‘the new tobacco’. Cigarettes were once considered a harmless pleasure and medical journals even carried advertisements for brands of cigarette with doctor’s endorsements or claims that they can cure a sore throat before the overwhelming array of research led to the unmistakable conclusion that cigarettes kill.

WHO experts say that together with high salt intake, not enough fruit and vegetables and lack of physical exercise, sugar is one of the main health risks and could become the ‘new tobacco’ because of its adverse impact on public health.

This is a pretty good article that covers a lot of issues beyond the basic message of sugar being bad for you. I”ve been making the comparison between sugar and tobacco for some time now – unfortunately, people look at you like you’re a little nuts when you do, though the 60 Minutes piece from last year – Is Sugar Toxic? – may have changed some minds.

Also, that HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) curve should make people sick just looking at it.

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