“In one study among women followed for four years, consuming one or more of these [soda] drinks per day nearly doubled the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared with women who drank fewer than one a month. And the authors concluded that those who increased their consumption of sugary drinks also “increased energy intake” — calories, that is — “from other foods, indicating that these beverages may even induce hunger and food intake.
No one is claiming that sugar-sweetened drinks are the only reason Americans have gotten fatter and developed high rates of Type 2 diabetes. But at no time in history have we eaten more caloric sweeteners than we do today, and soft drinks are the main culprit.”
In Fight Against Obesity, Drink Sizes Matter - Jane E. Brody, NYTimes
To perpetuate the cursory argument that the banning of large sodas (over 16 fl oz) is an “infringement on our rights as consumers” at this state of our nation’s healthcare troubles is to do a disservice to millions of people.
These actions should not be thought of as a unwelcome edification, a finger wave, or a nuisance — this regulation is an overdue defense against the deep pockets and large legal teams of companies like Coca Cola and PepsiCo who have the ability to spend billions of dollars to convince people that soda can do no harm.
It’s not a coincidence that when nations outside of the states adopt a western diet of soda and junk food does the prevalence of diabetes and heart disease rise dramatically. As citizens, we cannot take on the sole responsibility of protecting ourselves from multinational corporations. The New York City government is just trying to do it’s job and it’s in our best interest (in this case) to let them.
If you have 10 minutes, this is a concise and thought provoking video by the BBC comparing Big Food to Big Tobacco, and the lawyers who are working to take on Big Food. There is a section that shows neuroscience researchers testing hypotheses on food and addiction that is both fascinating and creepy (shoving shrimp scampi in a woman’s face while she lays in an MRI tunnel). Kelly Brownell, a personal favorite of mine from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, is featured.
“Only when you affect their profit can you affect their behavior.”
“The PLoS Medicine series on Big Food aims to examine and stimulate debate about the activities and influence of the food industry in global health. We define “Big Food” as the multinational food and beverage industry with huge and concentrated market power. The series adopts a multi-disciplinary approach and includes critical perspectives from around the world. It represents one of first times such issues have been examined in the general medical literature.”
There goes all my productivity today. Several editorials, essays and policy forums on big food, policy and global nutrition? A rare find (sadly). Thank you, PLoS.
LET’S TALK ABOUT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS!
A friend recently sent me OpEd by Nick Kristoff, How Chemicals Affect Us, and it brought me out of my sad and lonely hole of final exam cramming. It’s been incredibly easy to get lost in the math/science classes I’m enduring and completely forget that my end goal is getting my MD. Although I don’t know what field I’d like to specialize in, or if I’d like to specialize at all, (that decision is literally years away), but I’ve been interested in Endocrinology for awhile and this article reminded me why.
But first, a back story: A few years ago, before the idea of becoming a doctor even crossed my mind, my grandparents passed away within 3 weeks of each other. Lung cancer played a role in both of their deaths, and the cause - years and years of cigarette smoking - was the clear cause. But during the grieving process, I became intensely focused on what causes cancer and why so many people are dying from the various types. It was a mixture of my depression and anger that caused me to devote hours (years) of my life to reading about the chemicals in almost every product I used, and then to eventually purge myself of them.
I had already adopted a vegetarian diet before my anti-chemical crusade, but afterwards I stopped buying processed foods, things that came in boxes, shopped only at the farmers market, threw away all of my makeup and products and replaced them with natural counter parts. I made homemade cleaning products and wiped countertops with vinegar. I eschewed exterminators and Drain-O, even when my roommates pointed out that those things were currently necessary to survive in our East Village apartment. I sent crazed emails to family members and friends warning them of the dangers of pesticides, chemicals in canned goods, hydrogenated oils, coal mining, bisphenol-A, triclosan, meat treated with hormones, meat in general, shampoo, Purell, water bottles, tap water running for too long, light pollution, corporations, over-fishing and high fructose corn syrup.
After a few years of this tunnel-vision, I think I exhausted myself. My war on everything was a result of my depression and as I learned to cope, I started to descend back to Earth. However, I learned a great deal about chemicals during those dark days, and it’s partly that experience that got me enrolled in a postbac program at age 26, studying my ass off to become a doctor.
All of that said - I read this article last night and was reminded that all of these issues I cared about in 2008 are still major issues. Bisphenol-A is a chemical that is used in most plastics, and many studies show that it can be a serious endocrine disruptor, meaning it can act like a hormone and confuse the body, tricking the brain into thinking it is estrogen, and even causing neurological affects in infants and children. In any article you read, you’ll learn that studies about the chemical are inconclusive. ”Inconclusive.” “Debatable.” “Unproven.” “Ambiguous.” So the FDA continues to allow its production and use in the lining of cans, in plastic food containers, in electronic equipment and (less so) in baby bottles.
In Europe, things tend to work a bit differently, and health officials more often wait until something is PROVEN to be safe before it is allowed to be used. Here, we can use the product until it’s suddenly discovered to be harmful, 40 years down the line. And also unfortunately for us, chemical companies have an incredible about of lobbying power (read: $$$$) and their argument usually wins over our voting representatives. Totally unfair, but literally how our government works.
Bisphenol-A is just one of many chemicals in the treasure-trove of vague “organic compounds” found in the items we use everyday. At this point, I use canned goods all the time. I drink out of plastic water bottles a few days a week because I’ve now lost 3 reusable Sigg bottles. I feel overwhelmed by the thought of having to return to my former self and renounce all the conveniences in my life. Luckily, I’m able to see a bit more clearly now and I think it might be time again to make some subtle, manageable changes. I am an ADULT and there is no reason I can’t keep track of a water bottle. I can go to my neighborhood Whole Foods and buy some BPA free plastic food containers. Basically, I’m saying there are small changes I can make.
That said, it doesn’t take the possibly harmful chemicals out of our products. I don’t know what to do there, except post angry stories about it on my blog, sending my feelings into the ether and hoping that the concern will catch on and other people will post more angry stories on their blogs, and eventually people with actual importance will listen.
If you’re interested, here are a few more resources:
Clear evidence that Big Food wants to trick you.
I read about this somewhere a few months ago, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen the horrifying sight in real life.
Potato chips prominently displayed in the produce section.
Apparently, processed food companies are trying to work their products into the fresh/unprocessed food section of grocery stores to align them with healthier alternatives and boost sales.
Normally, (and I’m sure this is the case for many), I never travel down the chips aisle, but now here they are, right in the middle of two weekly staples: avocados and tomatoes. Perhaps a shopper was picking up some tomatoes for salad, then saw the chips, and thought… Mmm chips and guac! Delicious and totally fine.. except when a company is manipulating you when you’re not even aware.
Nothing makes me angrier. So BEWARE! Don’t let Big Food get a hand on your grocery list. Get that junk out of my produce aisle.
Accent theme by Handsome Code
Welcome to my blog! I’m Michelle, a 27 year old vegetarian, runner, future doctor, and healthy-living enthusiast. My life revolves around food. Cooking food, eating food, discussing the politics of food. We’re surrounded by so many false advertisements and misconceptions about nutrition, its difficult to know where the truth lies. This is my attempt to make everything a bit clearer.
Follow me while I eat delicious food, cook healthy meals, run races, and strive to separate the food truths from lies, while attempting to survive the premed lifestyle in NYC.
Questions/Comments? Send me an email! Michelle@thehonestpalate.com