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Old 09-01-2009, 09:11 PM   #1
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The F$$d P$lice are C$ming

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Increasingly vocal calls for taxes on sugary drinks and junk food are fueling a behind- the-scenes battle that public health officials say is reminiscent of America's war on cigarettes.

The U.S. obesity epidemic has blossomed into a public health crisis and overweight adolescents are starting to suffer problems that used to plague middle-aged adults -- early heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

While restaurant operators and food and soda makers promote personal responsibility and moderation, backers of the taxes say levies on foods that quickly add extra pounds are a necessary part of any successful anti-obesity effort.

Backers suggest taxes could help offset the estimated $147 billion cost of treating obesity-related diseases and fund programs to battle the expanding girths of Americans.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that cash-poor state and local governments are scrambling to raise revenue. Junk food taxes give them an opportunity to boost taxes under the guise of doing good, says Bob Goldin, executive vice president at restaurant consulting firm Technomic.

"The train has left the station," Goldin added.

SWEET SOURCE OF REVENUE

The Congressional Budget Office estimated in December that a tax of 3 cents on every 12-ounce can of soda would raise $50 billion over 10 years. Not surprisingly, a soda tax is among the revenue streams being eyed as U.S. lawmakers tackle healthcare reform.

About 58 percent of Americans are willing to bear a tax increase of 1 percent or more to support healthcare reform, according to a recent Thomson Reuters survey.

Although a debate rages over the efficacy of taxes on soda and other items, supporters point to the fall in smoking rates after taxes sent cigarette prices soaring.

"The research around tobacco has shown that large increases on taxes on cigarettes has been the single most effective policy to reduce tobacco use," said Mary Story, a dietitian and public health professor at the University of Minnesota.

Story figures that a 10 percent increase in sugar-sweetened beverage prices could cut consumption by 8 percent to 10 percent.

Taxing by the ounce would be more effective than a flat tax because it would put a larger burden on bigger soda bottles, which often sell for much less money per ounce, said Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center For Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.

"It's just a matter of time" before taxes come into effect, said Brownell, who published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in April arguing for a tax on sweet drinks. The article was coauthored with then-New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden, who is now director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Frieden's watch, New York banned artery-clogging trans fats from restaurants, required some chain restaurants to publicly post the calorie content of the food they serve and banned smoking in all restaurants.

Now, on the heels of a new American Heart Association recommendation to dramatically cut dietary sugar intake, New York City's health department is launching an anti-sugary drink ad campaign that reads: "Are you pouring on the pounds? Don't drink yourself fat.

BITTER BATTLE

Critics say new "sin tax" plans would turn the nation into a nanny state, hurt business, threaten an already weak economy and place an unfair burden on low-income shoppers. And groups such as Americans Against Food Taxes are striking back.

That organization has big-name backers such as juice maker Welch's, PepsiCo Inc, the American Beverage Association, the Corn Refiners Association, agribusiness giant Cargill Inc and restaurant chains ranging from fast-food purveyors McDonald's Corp and Burger King Holdings Inc to Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc.

Its website warns that taxes on sugary drinks would have a "negative impact on American families struggling in this economy." A narrator on its television ads, which feature a family camping trip, says: "Taxes never made anyone healthy. Education, exercise and balanced diets do that."

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; additional reporting by Maggie Fox in Washington, DC; editing by Andre Grenon)


http://www.reuters.com/article/healt...5806E520090901




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Old 09-01-2009, 09:30 PM   #2
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My reply, and one I think is being ignored by the media and the powers that be who rally this obesity problem, is high fructose corn syrup.

Beginning in the early 80s soda companies and other food companies started using HFCS instead of pure can sugar.
Before that they used pure can sugar.

Why did they change?

Because it's a lot cheaper than pure cane sugar.
It's about money.


I think this is one of the reasons, along with lack of physical activity, why so many of us are now FAT.
If you do research on this, you can see the rise in obesity with the introduction of HFCS.


If you agree, please email soda companies and others to encourage them to use pure cane sugar or another natural sugars.

I always buy my Cheerwine in glass bottles sweetened with pure cane sugar.

So refreshing



The Murky World of High-Fructose Corn Syrup

By Linda Joyce Forristal, CCP, MTA

Think of sugar and you think of sugar cane or beets. Extraction of sugar from sugar cane spurred the colonization of the New World. Extraction of sugar from beets was developed during the time of Napoleon so that the French could have sugar in spite of the English trading blockade.

Nobody thinks of sugar when they see a field of corn. Most of us would be surprised to learn that the larger percentage of sweeteners used in processed food comes from corn, not sugar cane or beets.

The process for making the sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) out of corn was developed in the 1970s. Use of HFCS grew rapidly, from less than three million short tons in 1980 to almost 8 million short tons in 1995. During the late 1990s, use of sugar actually declined as it was eclipsed by HFCS. Today Americans consume more HFCS than sugar.

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose, and then processing the glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose. It all sounds rather simple--white cornstarch is turned into crystal clear syrup. However, the process is actually very complicated. Three different enzymes are needed to break down cornstarch, which is composed of chains of glucose molecules of almost infinite length, into the simple sugars glucose and fructose.

First, cornstarch is treated with alpha-amylase to produce shorter chains of sugars called polysaccharides. Alpha-amylase is industrially produced by a bacterium, usually Bacillus sp. It is purified and then shipped to HFCS manufacturers.

Next, an enzyme called glucoamylase breaks the sugar chains down even further to yield the simple sugar glucose. Unlike alpha-amylase, glucoamylase is produced by Aspergillus, a fungus, in a fermentation vat where one would likely see little balls of Aspergillus floating on the top.

The third enzyme, glucose-isomerase, is very expensive. It converts glucose to a mixture of about 42 percent fructose and 50-52 percent glucose with some other sugars mixed in. While alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are added directly to the slurry, pricey glucose-isomerase is packed into columns and the sugar mixture is then passed over it. Inexpensive alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are used only once, glucose-isomerase is reused until it loses most of its activity.

There are two more steps involved. First is a liquid chromatography step that takes the mixture to 90 percent fructose. Finally, this is back-blended with the original mixture to yield a final concentration of about 55 percent fructose--what the industry calls high fructose corn syrup.

HFCS has the exact same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugar but it is obviously much more complicated to make, involving vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt. Yet in spite of all the special enzymes required, HFCS is actually cheaper than sugar. It is also very easy to transport--it's just piped into tanker trucks. This translates into lower costs and higher profits for food producers.

The development of the HFCS process came at an opportune time for corn growers. Refinements of the partial hydrogenation process had made it possible to get better shortenings and margarines out of soybeans than corn. HFCS took up the slack as demand for corn oil margarine declined. Lysine, an amino acid, can be produced from the corn residue after the glucose is removed. This is the modus operandi of the food conglomerates--break down commodities into their basic components and then put them back together again as processed food.

Today HFCS is used to sweeten jams, condiments like ketchup, and soft drinks. It is also a favorite ingredient in many so-called health foods. Four companies control 85 percent of the $2.6 billion business--Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Staley Manufacturing Co. and CPC International. In the mid-1990s, ADM was the object of an FBI probe into price fixing of three products--HFCS, citric acid and lysine--and consumers got a glimpse of the murky world of corporate manipulation.

There's a couple of other murky things that consumers should know about HFCS. According to a food technology expert, two of the enzymes used, alpha-amylase and glucose-isomerase, are genetically modified to make them more stable. Enzymes are actually very large proteins and through genetic modification specific amino acids in the enzymes are changed or replaced so the enzyme's "backbone" won't break down or unfold. This allows the industry to get the enzymes to higher temperatures before they become unstable.

Consumers trying to avoid genetically modified foods should avoid HFCS. It is almost certainly made from genetically modified corn and then it is processed with genetically modified enzymes. I've seen some estimates claiming that virtually everything--almost 80 percent--of what we eat today has been genetically modified at some point. Since the use of HFCS is so prevalent in processed foods, those figures may be right.

But there's another reason to avoid HFCS. Consumers may think that because it contains fructose--which they associate with fruit, which is a natural food--that it is healthier than sugar. A team of investigators at the USDA, led by Dr. Meira Field, has discovered that this just ain't so.

Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy--that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce live young.

"The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar," says Dr. Field, "but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic."

HFCS contains more fructose than sugar and this fructose is more immediately available because it is not bound up in sucrose. Since the effects of fructose are most severe in the growing organism, we need to think carefully about what kind of sweeteners we give to our children. Fruit juices should be strictly avoided--they are very high in fructose--but so should anything with HFCS.

Interestingly, although HFCS is used in many products aimed at children, it is not used in baby formula, even though it would probably save the manufactueres a few pennies for each can. Do the formula makers know something they aren't telling us? Pretty murky!

About the author

Linda Forristal, CCP, MTA is the author of Ode to Sucanat (1993) and Bulgarian Rhapsody (1998). Visit her website at Mother Linda's.


http://www.westonaprice.org/motherlinda/cornsyrup.html
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:53 PM   #3
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My reply, and one I think is being ignored by the media and the powers that be who rally this obesity problem, is high fructose corn syrup.

Beginning in the early 80s soda companies and other food companies started using HFCS instead of pure can sugar.
Before that they used pure can sugar.

Why did they change?

Because it's a lot cheaper than pure cane sugar.
It's about money.


I think this is one of the reasons, along with lack of physical activity, why so many of us are now FAT.
If you do research on this, you can see the rise in obesity with the introduction of HFCS.
agreed. i'm not saying i don't think a tax on sugary and fatty foods isn't a good idea, but i also think the companies that have switched from cane sugar to hfcs should have to be hit where it hurts too: their wallets. how about making the soda companies pay more (somehow) by continuing to use these even though the rest of the world can buy pepsi and coke made with cane sugar?
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Old 09-02-2009, 06:25 AM   #4
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"War on cigarettes"

then why dont they make them illegal if they are so bad?

oh wait, the tobacco lobby!!! of course!!!!!!
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:23 AM   #5
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"War on cigarettes"

then why dont they make them illegal if they are so bad?

oh wait, the tobacco lobby!!! of course!!!!!!
(buzz)

I'm, sorry. The tax revenue... the tax revenue, is the correct answer we were looking for.
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:37 AM   #6
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so if we agree the government should get out of our kitchens, then we're also very clear that the government shouldn't tell us who we can or cannot marry, right?
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:48 AM   #7
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Whooooooahhhh!

Now wait a minute! It's progressive when you want to come into my favorite restaurant, but it's conservative when I want to come into your household or bedroom.

"CONSERVATIVE", not "consistent" you might be getting those two words confused.
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:00 AM   #8
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(buzz)

I'm, sorry. The tax revenue... the tax revenue, is the correct answer we were looking for.

yeah that too
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:32 PM   #9
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given the estimations on national costs of healthcare focus on cause over treatment was long overdue
governments should look into what they can do regarding behaviour that is generally regarded as not desirable
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:36 PM   #10
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given the estimations on national costs of healthcare focus on cause over treatment was long overdue
governments should look into what they can do regarding behaviour that is generally regarded as not desirable

You must be a member of the Food Police.

I'm not.

*iron off to order a big chili cheese burger


32 waist

140 lbs

runs / exercises / farms/ I"m not on the couch

I'm doing fine.


I don't need or want big government to intrude into my life.

Do you?
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:44 AM   #11
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I don't need or want big government to intrude into my life.

Do you?


given the explosion of obesity and the public health risk it poses, along with diabetes, doesn't the government have a responsibility to address such an issue that will ultimately cost the taxpayer in the long run?

we make up threats to American citizens like Saddam Hussein and then spend a trillion dollars. why shouldn't the government address real, small, and measurable issues at home, most of which are low-cost/high-benefit?

really awesome that you have a fast metabolism. not everyone is so blessed. i also see that you remain free to eat your bacon cheeseburger. what's the problem?
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:52 AM   #12
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I must admit that politicisation of food is something I find pretty troubling. There's an element of blackmail about it. This is one area where I will tend to fall on the less rather than more end of the spectrum. It's not that there are no issues around public health, just that, in my view, there are areas where one should tread carefully.

I guess I am a food libertarian. Heh.
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:54 AM   #13
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when talking about school lunches -- somehow, it's "choice" to have Coke machines? you'll let the corporations in, but the government, which doesn't have a profit motive here, and which in countries like Sweden actually tries to have *healthy* school lunches, is somehow vicious and evil and harming our children because you can't get ranch dressing from the mammoth dispenser at 22 grams of fat per 8 oz?

scapegoating the government while missing the insidiousness of mammoth corporations is the height of foolishness.
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:00 AM   #14
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what i really wish would happen is that there would be incentives to buyers to buy healthier foods. for example, in states where they don't have this already, if you didn't have to pay sales tax for fruits and vegetables, and basically anything else along the corners of the grocery store. then keep the sales tax as it is for everything in the aisles - canned, processed foods.

plus, as i said earlier, it would be wonderful if something was done with the companies putting all this nasty, unnatural stuff in our food in the first place. hfcs and sodium benzoate have no purpose in our food. i don't believe any other first world country has such a free-for-all when it comes to food. hfcs is allowed to be labelled as natural even though it's nothing of the kind. not to mention the corn industry is allowed to put up commercials talking about how natural and healthy it is, and people who don't know any better assume they're telling the truth. and according to the usda, they are, but it shouldn't be this way.
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:16 AM   #15
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Fat people are going to be crucial to our economic recovery.
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