Americans weigh about 40 pounds more than 40 years ago. 36% of our population is obese. Why this sudden increase in weight? The answer is sugar. Not the cane sugar from Hawaii, but corn sugar made from modified corn.
During World War II, fat man was the code name for the atomic bomb. An actually fat man didn’t appear until two hundred years ago. It was a medical rarity then and his picture still hangs in England’s Leicester Museum. Being too bariatric to work—bariatric being a polite word for obese—he charged a shilling for people to see him, which made him a rich man!
Why corn sugar?
It all started with Mr. Nixon’s appointment of Earl Butz as Secretary of Agriculture. He abolished farm subsidies and advocated that farmers “get big or get out.” His policy drove many small farmers off the land.
Large Agribusiness corporations took over. They mass-produced corn and focused on how to make it profitable. Corn became abundant and cheap, and was used to make oil, fatten pigs and cattle, and feed people. In Michael Pollan’s words, corn was turned into a huge array of “edible food-like substances.” Small farmers suffered, but the big farm corporations grew rich.
Corn became so profitable it glutted the market, and the search was on for new uses of corn. They found it in Japan where a new process had been developed to turn corn commercially into High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS, a cheap sugar substitute. Congressmen came to the industry’s aid and changed the sugar tariffs, making HFCS vastly cheaper than cane sugar. Soon, cheap HFCS was pumped into most processed foods. It gave baked goods a glossy shine and other foods a delightfully sweet taste.
Better yet, HFCS could be used to replace fat. Now low-fat yogurts, desserts, and all sorts of fat-free foods could be produced that were cheaper and supposedly “good” for you! They even tasted better because of their delightful sweetness. It caused a huge financial bonanza for the food industry.
Yet people suddenly got fat and no one could explain why, until Prof. Anthony Sclafani at the University of New York found the answer. He was experimenting with rats; when he fed them regular rat food, they did fine; when he fed them food from the supermarket, they grew huge.
Why the weight-gain?
Scientists found that sugar is highly addictive creating a warm feeling of bliss. It shuts down the hormone leptin that normally tells us that we are full. Instead, our gut keeps sending messages to the brain that we need more food. And we happily continue eating. Research shows that sugar coalesces into fat and builds up around the liver causing diabetes 2; therefore the enormous increase of the disease in children. It also coats the semen making obese men less fertile.
Research studies. The food industry and its mighty lobby are fighting these findings tooth and nail. Millions of dollars are at stake. It provides countless counter-studies to prove the contrary, while independent, objective research is lamentably underfunded. When in 1990 the World Health Organization drafted a recommendation to limit the use of corn sugar, unbelievable as it may seem, our Secretary of State, Tommy Thompson, flew to Geneva to lobby on behalf of the sugar industry. The recommendation was not made.
Sugar Synonyms. The food industry is constantly looking for new names to hide the sugar contents in our food. Here is a partial list of words used for sugar: HFCS, barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin and maltose.
Did I mention the major beverage using corn sugar? Soft drinks.
Until next time,