Friday, September 23, 2016

How’re You Doing, Sugar?

We used to have fear from literally sitting around and chewing the “saturated” fat. The Centers for Disease Control tell us that 36.5% of American adults are technically “obese.” The medical costs attributed to this reality adds over $1500 a year on average to individual medical costs, not to mention the reduction in life expectancy. The impact on our health is rather extreme. Heart disease. Cancer. And, well… diabetes. Maybe “all of the above.”
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has noted the explosion of late-onset diabetes (type 2) associated with bad diets and obesity as well, all adding to the overall diabetes statistics. The other, more severe insulin-dependent form of diabetes, usually associated with children, is type 1, but this represents only about 5% of all diabetes cases. The numbers from the ADA are staggering:
·         Prevalence: In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes.
o    Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes.
·         Undiagnosed: Of the 29.1 million, 21.0 million were diagnosed, and 8.1 million were undiagnosed.
·         Prevalence in Seniors: The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.9%, or 11.8 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed).
·         New Cases: 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.
·         Prediabetes: In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes; this is up from 79 million in 2010.
·         Deaths: Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, with 69,071 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 234,051 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

But have we been lied to, manipulated and misdirected as to the cause and what we really should be focusing on? We know that a diet with too many saturated fats is generally not healthy and could lead to a whole host of maladies. Yet, have we been distracted by that “focus on fat” to the exclusion of another, perhaps greater, dietary culprit? Sugar. It’s everywhere.
“The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show.
“The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday [September 12th] in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.
“‘They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,’ said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F. and an author of the JAMA Internal Medicine paper.
“The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.” New York Times, September 12th.
That an industry was able to mislead and misdirect more than two generations of nutritionists, medical researchers, public and private, as well as most Americans (as well as other nations that depend on US-directed research) is beyond shameful, reminiscent of those “more doctors recommend Camel cigarettes” ads of the 1940s and 50s… except we know better today… and should have known better half a century ago… about sugar. Is this just a plutocracy gone really bad, a stray anomaly… or simply “business as usual” for just another American industry opposing transparency and consumer/public-directed regulation wherever it interferes with profits… no matter the suffering caused?
I’m Peter Dekom, and are there any consequences for those who intentionally misdirected the American public for decades to escalate an unprecedented health epidemic that has killed or seriously impaired millions of Americans?

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