Addiction Sameness

Alcohol, Opiates, Fat and Sugar are all Addictive Substances: this blog is about that "addiction sameness".

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Artificial sweeteners


Artificial sweeteners found in drinking water near Lake Erie

Kevin Trotman
Nature is so sweet! No, literally: Diet drinks are turning rivers into something out of Candyland. This is bad news for most of us, but good news if you’ve ever wished fresh spring water was more like Sprite.

Scientists poked around the Grand River in Ontario, Canada, which feeds into Lake Erie (so pay attention, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York). They found “elevated concentrations” of sucralose, saccharin, and two other sweeteners less fun to say.

Apparently the 30 water treatment plants that dump into the river aren’t filtering everything out. Writes the L.A. Times:
Antidepressants, antibiotics, steroids and fragrances are among the products that have been detected in surface waters. Some of the contaminants have been found in fish tissue. Some compounds not only get through sewage plants, they also survive purification of drinking supplies and have been measured in trace amounts in municipal tap water.

That was true of the sweeteners, which were detected in samples collected from homes in cities that draw supplies from the Grand, which empties into Lake Erie.

Holly Richmond ( writes and edits things for fun and money. She worked for Grist in the 1890s. Please follow her on Twitter because that is the entire basis of her self-esteem.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Michael Pollan: The Omnivore s Dilemma

Uploaded on Jan 8, 2010
Pollan discusses America's dilemma regarding food production and consumption and examines the ways in which Americans produce their food and make their meals, the subjects of his 2006 best selling book "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.

Produced by Bill Matthiesen '70, Berkshire Film & Video,

Benny Goodman Camel Caravan Radio Show Sponsored by the Cigarette Brand

Benny Goodman Camel Caravan from 02/14/1939. With Johnny Mercer and Martha Tilton.

Sponsored by Camel cigarettes

 Camel Caravan














Tobacco Marketing


The Men Who Made Us Fat- Part 3

Part 3

Published on Aug 28, 2012
Jacques Peretti examines assumptions about what is and is not healthy. He also looks at how product marketing can seduce consumers into buying supposed 'healthy foods' such as muesli and juices, both of which can be high in sugar.

He speaks with Simon Wright, an 'organic consultant' for Sainsbury's in the 1990s, who explains how the food industry cashed in on the public's concerns around salmonella, BSE and GM crops. By 1999 the organic industry was worth over £605M, a rise of 232% within two years.

How did the mainstream food producers compete? Peretti speaks with Kath Dalmeny, former policy director at the Food Commission, who explains some of the marketing strategies used by mainstream food producers to keep our custom.

The programme also explores the impact of successive government initiatives and health campaigns, such as the proposal of 'traffic light labelling', the introduction of which the food industry lobbied hard against.

But in 2012, when we have an Olympic Games sponsored by McDonalds and Coca Cola, has anything changed?

License:  Standard YouTube license

Published on Sep 2, 2013
Episode 4 of 4

In the final instalment of this four-part series, Jacques Peretti asks why the world's population continues to get fatter, despite the fact that billions are spent on weight loss every year. He travels to America to investigate the parallels between food companies and the tobacco industry and meets the activists battling to introduce laws to tax fatty and sugary foods - and facing fierce resistance from industry.
Standard YouTube license

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Obesity Epidemic

Published on Aug 23, 2012
Around the world, obesity levels are rising. More people are now overweight than undernourished. Two thirds of British adults are overweight and one in four of us is classified as obese. In the first of this three-part series, Jacques Peretti traces those responsible for revolutionising our eating habits, to find out how decisions made in America 40 years ago influence the way we eat now.

Peretti travels to America to investigate the story of high-fructose corn syrup. The sweetener was championed in the US in the 1970s by Richard Nixon's agriculture secretary Earl Butz to make use of the excess corn grown by farmers. Cheaper and sweeter than sugar, it soon found its way into almost all processed foods and soft drinks. HFCS is not only sweeter than sugar, it also interferes with leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, so once you start eating or drinking it, you don't know when to stop.

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig was one of the first to recognise the dangers of HFCS but his findings were discredited at the time. Meanwhile a US Congress report blamed fat, not sugar, for the disturbing rise in cardio-vascular disease and the food industry responded with ranges of 'low fat', 'heart healthy' products in which the fat was removed - but the substitute was yet more sugar.

Meanwhile, in 1970s Britain, food manufacturers used advertising campaigns to promote the idea of snacking between meals. Outside the home, fast food chains offered clean, bright premises with tempting burgers cooked and served with a very un-British zeal and efficiency. Twenty years after the arrival of McDonalds, the number of fast food outlets in Britain had quadrupled.

License:  Standard YouTube license

Part 2

Published on Aug 28, 2012
Jacques Peretti investigates how the concept of 'supersizing' changed our eating habits forever. How did we - once a nation of moderate eaters - start to want more?

Speaking to Mike Donahue, former McDonalds Vice President, Peretti explores the history behind the idea of supersizing. 40 years ago, McDonalds hired David Wallerstein, a former cinema manager who had introduced the idea of selling larger popcorn servings in his Chicago cinema. Wallerstein realised that people would eat more but they didn't like the idea of appearing gluttonous by going back for seconds. By increasing the portion sizes and the cost, he could sell more food. In 1972, he introduced the idea to McDonalds and their first large fries went on sale.

By the 1980s, we were eating more - and eating more often. Perretti speaks with industry professionals to examine the story behind the introduction of value meals, king-size snacks and multi-buy promotions. How did the advertising industry encourage us to eat more often?

The programme also explores the developments in dietary advice - by 2003, the Chief Medical Officer was warning of an 'obesity time bomb.' Peretti speaks to obesity expert Professor Philip James, who made recommendations in his 1996 report that the food industry should cease targeting children in their advertisements. He also speaks with Professor Terry Wilkin, who led a pioneering study into childhood weight gain; and former Labour MP David Hinchliffe, who chaired the 2003 Parliamentary Select Committee on Health.

Standard YouTube license

Friday, December 6, 2013

A simple mind trick to make your coffee taste even better

Study Reveals A Simple Mind Trick To Make Your Coffee Taste Better

There are a lot of tricks to make coffee taste better -- adding cream, sugar or perhaps even some pumpkin spice. But a new study published in PLOS ONE, an online journal, revealed an even simpler... 

A simple mind trick to make your coffee taste even better

The World’s Deadliest Drug: Inside a Krokodil Cookhouse

Russia, Yekaterinburg. A stage of  Krokodil's preparation. Pills of codeine are crushed and mixed with iodine, hydrochloric acid and other chemicals.
Emanuele Satolli—Parallelozero

A stage of krokodil preparation. Pills of codeine are crushed and mixed with iodine, hydrochloric acid and other chemicals.

A stage of Krokodil's preparation.
Emanuele Satolli for TIME
A stage of krokodil's preparation.

Alexey is injecting the Krokodil.  The effect of the drug is about 40 minutes.
Emanuele Satolli for TIME
Alexey injects krokodil. The effect of the drug lasts about 40 minutes.

About a decade ago, Russian doctors began to notice strange wounds on the bodies of some drug addicts—patches of flesh turning dark and scaly, like a crocodile’s—in the hospitals of Siberia and the Russian Far East. It didn’t take them long to discover the cause: the patients had begun injecting a new drug they called, predictably, “krokodil.” (Some accounts suggest the name was derived from one of the drug’s precursor chemicals, alpha-chlorocodide.)

Videos showing the effects of the “flesh-eating” drug—christened desomorphine when it was invented for medical use in 1932—quickly went viral online. There are now alarming stories that the monster could be at large in the U.S.

American drug-enforcement officials say fears of an imminent krokodil epidemic are overblown. But it’s hard not to be frightened of a drug that leaves a reptilian mark on its victims. Especially when it is so easy to make: an addict can cook up krokodil using ingredients and tools bought from the local pharmacy and hardware store. 

The active ingredient, codeine, is a mild opiate sold over the counter in many countries. Users mix codeine with a brew of poisons such as paint thinner, hydrochloric acid and red phosphorus scraped from the strike pads on matchboxes. The result—a murky yellow liquid with an acrid stink—mimics the effect of heroin at a fraction of the cost. 
In Europe, for example, a dose of krokodil costs just a few dollars, compared with about $20 for a hit of heroin.

But addicts pay dearly for krokodil’s cheap high. 
Wherever on the body a user injects the drug, blood vessels burst and surrounding tissue dies, sometimes falling off the bone in chunks. 
That side effect has earned krokodil its other nickname: the zombie drug. The typical life span of an addict is just two or three years.

The drug quickly became popular among Russian addicts. In 2005, the country’s counter narcotics agency reported catching only “one-off” instances of the drug; six years later, in the first three months of 2011, the agency confiscated 65 million doses, up 23-fold from two years earlier.
At its peak that year, krokodil use had spread to as many as a million addicts in Russia.

A ban on over-the-counter codeine sales that was introduced on June 1, 2012, has brought numbers down sharply, but Emanuele Satolli, an Italian photographer who has been chronicling a group of Russian addicts, says many now score that key ingredient on the black market.

For the past year, Satolli has focused on the industrial city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, a place notorious in Russia for drug abuse, photographing about a dozen krokodil addicts.

The krokodil epidemic may have peaked in Russia, but the drug’s use has already been reported elsewhere. 

In October, a report published online in the American Journal of Medicine confirmed the case of a 30-year-old addict in Richmond Heights, Mo., whose finger “fell off” and whose skin began to rot after he began injecting krokodil. 

The monster has crossed the ocean.

Emanuele Satolli is an Italian photojournalist based in Milan.

Simon Shuster is TIME’s Moscow correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @shustry.

Translation by Eugene Reznik.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eat moe fibre for lower calorie intake...

Killer Wasps

PETA To Johns Hopkins: Stop Using Rodents In Erectile Dysfunction...

Animal advocacy group PETA called Tuesday on the National Institutes of Health to stop animal experiments related to sexual health, including Johns Hopkins studies of erectile dysfunction using... 

  22 Nov
Killer wasps in Ankang, China have already killed 42 people.



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cosmetic Companies Ranked According To Harm

Canada's cosmetics companies are ranked according to harm

Cosmetic Companies Ranked According To Harm

OTTAWA - An environmental group has ranked Canada's five largest cosmetics companies based on potentially harmful ingredients in their products.The report from Toronto-based Environmental Defence... 


Synthetic Marijuana "Spice" May Cause Strokes in Teenagers

Synthetic Pot Popular Among Teens May Be Linked To Strokes

A synthetic marijuana popular among teens may cause strokes, a University of Southern Florida study found.

USF Neurologists published news of the possible link in the journal Neurology after a brother and sister, 26 and 19, suffered acute ischemic strokes shortly after smoking the synthetic marijuana street drug known as "spice" or K2. The researchers ruled out any undiagnosed genetic condition that would predispose the siblings to strokes at such a young age.

“We rigorously looked for those and didn’t come up with anything,” senior study author W. Scott Burgin said. “To the best of our knowledge, what appeared to be heart-derived strokes occurred in two people with otherwise healthy hearts. So more study is needed.”
Burgin told the Tampa Bay Times that since submitting to the journal, he has seen two more cases of stroke in unrelated patients that were likely spice-induced.

Banned in 43 states and undetectable in toxicology screenings, spice is made of a mixture of herbs doused in “a solution of designer chemicals” that mimic a cannabis high when consumed. But Burgin warned that the synthetic drug can be even more potent than real marijuana because of the more complete way its psychoactive ingredient binds to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors.

“You don’t know what you’re getting when you smoke synthetic marijuana,” Dr. Burgin said of the product sold mostly underground and without any ingredients list. “It’s like the Wild West of pharmaceuticals, and you may be playing dangerously with your brain and your health.”
This isn’t the first time synthetic marijuana has been linked to serious health risks. A study in February out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham linked the product to acute kidney injury.

In spite of the risks, the synthetic cannabis is immensely popular among teens. A 2011 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that second to only real marijuana, it was the most used illicit drug among high school seniors.

While the chemical similarities between synthetic and real pot remain unclear, the study’s findings may inspire researchers to continue research into real marijuana’s possible link to strokes. A study out of New Zealand in February reported a possible increased risk of stroke from cannabis use, but the findings were widely considered inconclusive because the researchers did not control for tobacco use, which doubles the risk of stroke.

“In any event, if marijuana can cause ischemic stroke, and if anything pot can do spice can do better, neurologists will likely encounter increasing numbers of spice-associated strokes in the years ahead,” said Columbia University neurology professor John C. M. Brust.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Necessary Changes

Image preview

The more severe the pain or illness, the more severe will be the necessary changes.  These may involve breaking bad habits, or acquiring some new ones.

For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction... A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three -- the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn't get you, the others are waiting in the wings.

The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.  JKZ

"The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream." -William Shakespeare

“If you don't feel it, flee from it. Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.” ― Paul F. Davis

"And the Day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud, was even more painful then the risk it took to blossom"- Anis Nin

Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers

Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers

Saturday 30 November 2013 - 12am PST

Featured Article Academic Journal

Current ratings for:
Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers
It is widely known that a lack of sunlight can sometimes cause a deficiency in vitamin D. But how does a lack of this vitamin affect athletes who train indoors, especially during the winter months? To find out, researchers in the UK studied vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers and observed whether supplementation helped.
The study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, was conducted through a collaboration between researchers at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH), the University of Wolverhampton and dancers at the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

These three institutions are founding partners of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS).

To conduct their study, the team split 24 elite classical ballet dancers into two groups. During the 4-month study, one group took oral supplementation of vitamin D3 to the tune of 2,000 IU per day, while a control group did not take any supplements.

Isometric muscular strength and vertical jump height were measured at the start and end of the study. Additionally, the in-house medical team recorded any injuries the dancers experienced.

The researchers found that the dancers who took vitamin D supplements showed greater improvements in muscle strength and vertical performance, while also experiencing fewer injuries, compared with the control group.
Dr. Roger Wolman, consultant in rheumatology, sport and exercise medicine at the RNOH, says:
"Vitamin D is important for bone development and has a wide range of functions. In a deficient state, dancers are at increased risk of bone injuries, and this latest research indicates an increased risk of muscle injury, which can be detrimental to their health and their careers."
Following on from their findings, the researchers suggest that medical staff and instructors monitor vitamin D levels in dancers throughout the whole year and provide supplements for them during winter months.

This can help their serum levels return to normal, they say, ultimately leading to improvement in overall performance.

'Findings could cover other sports'

Ballet dancer
Ballet dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet participated in the study, which revealed vitamin D supplements improved their muscle strength and resulted in fewer injuries.
Photo credit: RNOH
The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK notes that vitamin D has several important functions, including regulating calcium and phosphate in the body.

While a lack of it can lead to bone deformities, such as rickets, we can get it for free from the sun - vitamin D is made by our body under the skin as a reaction to sunlight.

However, individuals who live in areas of the world with low annual levels of solar irradiation have difficulty getting enough sunlight for their body to efficiently manufacture the vitamin.
The alternative - vitamin D supplementation - has been widely debated in the medical community.

While some researchers have shown that vitamin D could help treat asthma or even help prevent hypertension, others have warned that raising vitamin D levels in healthy people may be potentially harmful.

Still, the researchers from this latest study say supplementation may be the way to go for dancers.

"These findings could also be extrapolated to cover other sports and training activities that take place indoors," Dr. Wolman adds.
Helen Laws, NIDMS Manager at Dance UK, says:
"Traditionally dancers spend between 6 and 8 hours training indoors for 6 days a week throughout the year, and they need to be able to execute highly technical movements during high intensity periods of training and when performing.
This study provides important advice on performance enhancement as well as offering vital insights into the overall health and well-being of dancers."
NIDMS, the first specialist dance clinic in partnership with the NHS, provides a novel approach to the health care of dancers. Injury treatment of dancers costs the dance sector an average of £900,000 ($1.4 million) each year.
Written by Marie Ellis

Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.

    The influence of winter vitamin D supplementation on muscle function and injury occurrence in elite ballet dancers: A controlled study, Wyon MA, Koutedakis Y, Wolman R, Nevill AM, Allen N, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, published online 2013, Abstract
    Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
    Ellis, Marie. "Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 30 Nov. 2013. Web.
    30 Nov. 2013.

    Ellis, M. (2013, November 30). "Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

    Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
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Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Science of Addictive Junk Food By Dr. Mercola


Poor will power is NOT necessarily what drives you to overeat on junk food. An in-depth investigation into the processed-food industry reveals there’s a conscious effort on behalf of food manufacturers to get you hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive to make 

Sugar, salt and fat are the top three substances making processed foods so addictive. Sugar alone has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine, and food manufacturers use sophisticated taste science to determine the “bliss point” that makes you crave more 

Recent research confirms that processed meat consumption is strongly associated with premature death. According to the researchers, reducing daily processed meat consumption to less than 20 grams a day could reduce mortality rates across Europe by three percent annually 

According to a new report from the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 22.3 million people were living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in 2012, up from 17.5 million in 2007 

To protect your health, I advise spending 90 percent of your food budget on whole foods, and only 10 percent on processed foods

Read More:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Oreos Found to Be As Addictive As Cocaine!

Oreos Found to Be As Addictive As Cocaine!

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

When you eat refined processed sugars, they trigger production of your brain's natural opioids -- a key ingredient in the addiction process. Your brain essentially becomes addicted to stimulating the release of its own opioids as it would to morphine or heroin.

This addictive nature of sugar and processed food has again been confirmed by a psychology professor and a team of students at the College of Connecticut,1, 2 who showed that Oreo cookies are just as addictive as cocaine or morphine.

The study, which was designed to investigate the potential addictiveness of high-fat/high-sugar foods, also found that eating Oreos activated more neurons in the rat brain's pleasure center than exposure to illicit drugs did. According to professor Schroeder:

"Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do. It may explain why some people can't resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them."

The idea for the study originated with neuroscience major Jamie Honohan, who wanted to know how the high prevalence of junk foods in low-income neighborhoods might contribute to the obesity epidemic.      


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Protein Sources

“Physical fitness is not only one of most important keys to healthy body, it's the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."

Embedded image permalink

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Art of Underground Dining

Straight from the Wolvesmouth on

Straight from the Wolvesmouth

Chef Provocateur Craig Thornton On the Art of Underground Dining
“The opening dish is venison, ripped apart and strewn onto the plate to look like a bloody and decayed piece of meat,” says Craig Thornton of the visceral food he will be serving up at Cut Your Teeth, the collaborative installation made with artist Matthew Bone that opens today at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. “You are eating something that looks eerily similar to a deer carcass, but the dish itself includes moss, blackberry beet gastrique, coffee cocoa crumble and purple cabbage.” Armed with a range of culinary experience—from learning his trade at Thomas Keller’s Las Vegas bistro Bouchon to becoming Nicholas Cage’s private chef—and having recently received profiles in The New Yorker andHollywood Reporter, the man behind culinary sensation Wolvesmouth is captured here by filmmaker Jordan Bahat in a Downtown Los Angeles loft during one of his monthly conceptual dinners. “The Santa Monica installation is the first foray into a direction I’ve wanted to take Wolvesmouth for a long time,” says Thornton, who will be working with art impresarioJeffrey Deitch when Cut Your Teeth moves to New York. “It is a snapshot of everything we push away to keep this perfect idealized box of what we think reality is, leaving a lot of people devoid of knowing where their food comes from.”

Cut Your Teeth runs at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, October 16 through October 26 and in New York City November 7 through December 14.

'via Blog this'

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sugar & Obesity

“Physical fitness is not only one of most important keys to healthy body, it's the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."

ABC News Nightline correspondent John Donvan interviews pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig 

about the dangers of consuming fructose during a visit to UCSF on March 8.

UCSF Lecture on Sugar and Obesity Goes Viral as Experts Confront Health Crisis

By Kate Vidinsky

When a UCSF Mini Medical School lecture about sugar and obesity given by pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, MD, first hit YouTube and the UCTV website last July, it seemed unlikely that many people would tune in to watch the 90-minute video.

But now, nearly 500,000 views, 600 comments and countless tweets later, Lustig is excited to see his message about the dangers of sugar consumption resonating with the masses.

“I have been very gratified by both the volume of the response, and the quality of response that the video has garnered,” says Lustig, who serves as director of UCSF’s Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health, or WATCH, Clinic. “I also have been very touched by the personal testimonials of many patients who have written to me about their own travails.”

In the YouTube video, Lustig argues that:

- the current obesity epidemic can be blamed on a marked increase in the consumption of a type of sugar called fructose over the last 30 years. 
Fructose is a component of the two most popular sugars: sucrose or table sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup, which has become ubiquitous in soft drinks and many processed foods.

Lustig says that fructose is toxic in large quantities because it is metabolized in the liver in the same way as alcohol, which drives fat storage and makes the brain think it is hungry.

“People are searching for answers to this epidemic that make sense,” he says.

“The science of fructose metabolism in the liver and fructose action in the brain turn the normal cycle of energy balance into a vicious cycle of consumption and disease."

“What I have proposed is quite controversial; that our food supply has been adulterated right under our very noses, with our tacit complicity. But I think the public gets it, and the tide is turning.”

The news media also has paid close attention to the growing popularity and importance of Lustig’s message. ABC News Nightline visited UCSF on March 8 to conduct an in-depth interview with Lustig that will air later this month. Nightline correspondent John Donvan became interested in Lustig’s work after Donvan’s wife, a physician, saw the video on YouTube and urged him to watch it.

Solving a Public Health Crisis

The heightened interest in Lustig’s video lecture coincides with the launch of a new national campaign against obesity spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama. Obama’s initiative aims to eliminate childhood obesity in a single generation through a variety of measures, including improved nutrition in schools and communities, and physical education programs.

The First Lady’s visionary goal is an important step forward, and UCSF researchers and clinicians are excited to do their part to help reach that goal, says psychology professor Nancy Adler, PhD, co-director of UCSF’s Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment or COAST.

“The problem of obesity truly is of epidemic proportion and raises the very real possibility that the current generation of children will be the first to have a shorter lifespan than that of their parents,” Adler says. “We are fortunate to have a remarkable group of experts at UCSF who conduct translational obesity research and are committed to solving this public health crisis.”

An obesity think tank of sorts, COAST was established in 2004 and is believed to be the first center in the country to focus on the impact that stress has on eating and weight gain. The work at COAST spans basic science, clinical studies, and social and behavioral research, enabling experts to address the obesity epidemic in all its complexity.

COAST also works closely with UCSF’s two major obesity clinics — the Adult Weight Management Program at UCSF Medical Center and the WATCH Clinic at UCSF Children’s Hospital — to directly apply the knowledge gained through research.
Translating Research into Treatment

It was basic research conducted by Mary Dallman, PhD, a physiology professor emeritus, that set the stage for UCSF’s current work around stress and obesity. Through a series of rat studies, Dallman showed that stress and fat metabolism are regulated by the same biological mechanisms, and animals subjected to greater chronic stress are more likely to eat sweet and fatty foods.

Today, researchers like Elissa Epel, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and co-director of COAST, are applying Dallman’s basic findings and translating them into viable therapies. In one current project, Epel is developing a neurobiological test that she believes will provide an index of the extent to which a person is “hooked” on foods that are high in fat and sugar. The test, she explains, will help clinicians identify appropriate weight loss programs for individual patients.

UCSF pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, who talks about the dangers of consuming too much sugar on YouTube and UCTV, was interviewed for an upcoming Nightline episode in the cafeteria at UCSF on March 8.

Epel also is collaborating with Adler and Barbara Laraia, PhD, a COAST co-director and nutrition investigator, to examine early predictors of adult obesity. The researchers are testing novel interventions designed to help pregnant women keep their weight gain within recommended guidelines to see if this prevents future weight problems for women and their children. In addition to the valuable therapeutic applications of this work, Epel says it also can help inform public policy.

“Our research is very policy relevant,” she says. “Once legislators understand the root causes of obesity and see data demonstrating how certain foods affect the circuitry of the brain, they will feel compelled to protect people with better policy.”

Photos by Susan Merrell

Related Links:

UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study & Treatment (COAST)

WATCH Clinic
UCSF Children’s Hospital

Adult Weight Management Program
UCSF Medical Center

New Center to Focus on Effects of Stress, Socioeconomic Status on Obesity
UCSF Today, August 11, 2009

Sugar is a Poison, Says UCSF Obesity Expert
Science Café, June 25, 2009

The Biology of Fat (or Why Literally Running Away from Stress Is a Good Idea)
Science Café, July 6, 2007

The demon drink: war on sugar

The demon drink: war on sugar

Our addiction to sugar is linked to obesity, cancer and heart disease – and soft drinks are among the worst offenders. Alex Renton reports on the new health war, and reveals why some fruit juices may be as bad for you as cans of fizz

The tin of 7UP rolls to a stop at my feet. I pick it up, scowling at the kid on a bike who'd tossed it and missed the litter bin. The can is green and shiny: "Put some play into your every day," it says. "Escape to a carefree world… Don't grow up. 7UP."

And underneath, in tiny print, the real info (though you need a calculator to get to the truth): the lemon- and lime-flavoured drink contains a trace of salt, no fat, no fibre and 34.98g of sugar – eight teaspoons – and 135 calories. That's enough energy for an hour's cross-country running. It's cheap, too. Half the price of milk.

If the stats are right, this teenager in Leith, who threw the empty tin, drinks 287 cans, or the equivalent, a year: more sugary drinks than any other child in Europe. Not to mention a whole lot more sugar, in breakfast cereals, bread, and even chicken nuggets. That is in part why Scottish children's teeth are the same quality as those of children in Kazakhstan. And perhaps why a 2010 survey of 17 countries found that only Mexicans and Americans were fatter than Scots.

Of course sugary drinks make work for more people than dentists. 

Though the drinks and food industry still hotly contests it, a scientific consensus is now emerging that fatal problems can be traced back to excessive sugar consumption. 

Sugary drinks, addiction and obesity are inextricably linked: 

excess sugar in the diet may be a greater cause of obesity than fat is. 

Obese people suffer from diabetes, cancer, fatty liver disease, dementia and heart problems to the extent that their healthcare costs are double those of people with a healthy body mass. 

The "metabolic syndrome" maladies associated with insulin resistance and obesity – many authorities now just use the term "diabesity" – are expected soon to overtake tobacco as the leading cause of heart disease in the world. And perhaps of cancer, too.

Thus the "don't grow up" line on that 7UP tin carries a grinding irony. 
Dr Robert Lustig puts it brutally: "The numbers don't lie… as a rule, the fat die young." 

He is a medical doctor and professor of clinical paediatrics at the University of California who has emerged as the guru of an increasingly noisy international campaign pressing governments to act as aggressively on sugary drinks as they have on tobacco. The two are seen as directly analogous – unnecessary habits that cost people and society dear. Lustig believes that children are at the forefront of the sugar-driven health crisis because soft and fizzy drinks are the most efficient way of delivering this "poison".  

So the 7UP tin is quite an artefact:

It shows capitalism at its most efficient and rapacious: where ingredients – sugar, flavouring, water – costing almost nothing can be turned into a profit margin measured in the thousands of per cent. 

It illustrates the extraordinary diversion of farmland and forest into the production of the almost useless while nearly a billion people on the planet are starving. 

The can is an icon of the key dietary changes of the era, where we upped our simple carbohydrate intake – sugar – to the point that it started harming us in ways never seen before.

A monumental battle is just beginning between the sugar and food corporations and governments, which know that society can no longer bear the strain of the polysaccharide habit. 

If the 40 years of war between government and Big Tobacco are anything to go by, the fight will be dirty.

It's a feature of modern life that the young have started getting the diseases of the old – problems with their hearts, their livers, cancers, diabetes and so on. That this may be triggered by the changes in our diet has been known for at least 60 years. 

During the Korean war, US army surgeons got a chance to do something unusual: perform autopsies on lots of young people. These found plaque in the American casualties' arteries – even among the teenagers. But there were no blockages in the hearts and valves of the youthful Korean dead. At the time, this bizarre phenomenon was ascribed to the fat load in the GIs' diet. But Americans who fought in Korea and Japan were fuelled by Coca-Cola and its rivals; and modern analysis now concludes that sugary drinks may have been the villain.

Most rich nations saw their sugar consumption increase by 30-40% between 1970 and 2000. In Scotland it quadrupled in 60 years. A key moment was the introduction of "high fructose corn syrup" (HFCS) – a fantastically cheap sugar made from America's surplus maize (in Europe we manufacture something similar from sugar beet). American government subsidy for the corn farmers – and high taxes on imported sugar – made the product cheap and attractive. Though there were issues around taste, in 1980 Coca-Cola successfully switched to using HFCS. After water, sugar is, of course, the major ingredient in its product. Profit margins improved, and Coke's rivals soon jumped aboard.

Kicking the can: teenagers in Scotland drink an average of 287 cans a year – each containing eight spoons of sugar. Photograph: Nathalie Louvel/Getty Images

In the UK we eat and drink around 70% more sugar than the government says we should, and the obesity figures have been fairly stable since they peaked in the early 2000s. (Though with 30% of under-15s overweight, and consuming sugar just like adults, the epidemiologists are predicting the obesity rate to rise.) But our sugar consumption peaked in 1982 and the soft drinks manufacturers say that now 40% of carbonated drinks contain "no added sugar". Why, then, have obesity rates not plunged?

I found at least a piece of the answer to that at breakfast in my house, when a family with two young, and I think we'll say "sturdy", children came to stay. Just a touch self-righteous, they spurned the low-sugar cereals – Weetabix, porridge – that our children eat. Instead they got busy with the blender, making vast watery smoothies with fruit juice, apples and bananas. But the supermarket apple juice, I pointed out, contained 35% sugar – more than a can of Coke. And a ripe banana has four teaspoonfuls of sugar. "That's natural sugar. It's fructose. That means it's from fruit," I was told.

The truth is that, though consuming sugar along with the fibres of fruit is better than without, these middle-class healthy drinks may be higher in sugar than the Ribena my mother was fooled into giving us children for our health. And that, too, had more sugar in it than Coke.

Sugar is sugar – a simple chemical, and it makes little difference whether it's crushed from an organic, hand-picked fruit or fracked in a factory out of corn and beet. And fructose is just another of the monosaccharides that make sugar, though it's the one with a friendly Latin-derived name. In fact fructose is the key to all sugar – it makes it taste sweet. Table sugar is half glucose, half fructose. The high-fructose syrups the drinks manufacturers use are probably – they won't say – made of 55% fructose: more sweetness for the sugar load.

Many scientists have marked fructose as the ring leader in the team of monosaccharides. Lustig, who likes to turn a phrase, calls it theVoldemort of sugars – and it is biggest in the sugar load of soft drinks.

A 240 ml glass of orange juice might contain 120 calories of sugar, or sucrose; half of that will be fructose. The fructose will all end up in the liver, which may not be able to metabolise (process) it fully, depleting vital chemicals in the organ and turning into fat. 
"It's not about the calories," says Dr Lustig. "It has nothing to do with the calories. It's a poison by itself."

What is undeniable is that problems in the liver in turn contaminate and disable other systems, including the insulin production of the pancreas. The effects are felt ultimately in the heart, the immune system and by producing cancers. Insulin resistance may also be a player in dementia.

"Fructose can fry your liver and cause all the same diseases as alcohol," Dr Lustig continues. Key to the obesity debate is the charge that high insulin levels interfere with the hormone leptin, which is a signalling device that tells the brain when we've consumed enough. So you drink or eat fructose, and then you want more food. Sugary soft drinks deliver the fructose fastest to the organs that can't handle it. And, of course, they are largely consumed by those most vulnerable to diseases: the poor and the young. For children, every extra daily serving above the average increases the chances of obesity by 60% .

Sweet success: we consume 70% more sugar than the government’s guideline figure. 
Photograph: Ryann Cooley/Getty Images

The drinks industry and its science do not agree. Gavin Partington, the energetic director general of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), says: "A calorie is a calorie." Dealing with the fat crisis is about helping people to use up those calories through exercise.

Across America though, health authorities appear to be coming round to Lustig's view. Should we? I put that to Professor David Colquhoun of University College London, a specialist in toxicology and a scourge of cod science through his Improbable Science blog and gloriously cantankerous tweeting. Does he buy the anti-fructose lobby's theories? "Bugger all is known with certainty about the effects of diet on health. That's why so much is written about it. The whole problem is that it's all correlational stuff – there's no causality proven. Nevertheless the best current guess is that sugar is a much bigger problem than fat. And it's addictive, which is why manufacturers do it (I'll happily eat a whole bag of jelly babies). That can't be good – so, yes, I'd say let's tax it."

Punitive taxation on sugary drinks – already in place in some European countries – will be a long while coming to Britain. The nutritioncampaigners Sustain and 61 other charities and health organisations, including the Royal Society for Public Health, called on the chancellor to introduce a "sugary drinks duty" of 20p a litre in this year's budget. It would raise £1bn a year – some of which, they suggested, could usefully be spent on children's health and free school meals. George Osborne stayed quiet; health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was sceptical. Far more influential than Professor Colquhoun, Lustig and any eminent academic is the food and beverage industry. And that is, of course, busy leaning on the government to avoid any further tampering with its right to flog sugary drinks as healthy.

The BSDA, to which manufacturers such as Britvic and AG Barr hand queries, has stopped insisting that there is no proven link between sugar, soft drinks and obesity – its position until a few years ago. (This stonewalling claim is still the position of Associated British Foods, supplier of half of the UK's sugar.) Now the defence centres on the "unfair cost" to shoppers of a tax, and the 9% fall in sales, over the past 10 years, in added-sugar drinks. "Sixty one per cent of soft drinks now contain no added sugar," they claim. But the BSDA's stats are dubious: for a start, they include 2bn litres of bottled mineral waters – 15% of all soft drinks. And, of course, the carton juices contain "no added sugar" – but as we've seen, many have more sugar in them than Coke.

But there are extraordinary things going on in America, for which Lustig – and his 3.6m-hit YouTube film Sugar: The Bitter Truth – can take some credit. More than 30 state and city legislatures, from Hawaii to New York, have discussed or proposed curbs on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) ranging from bans in schools to cuts in portion sizes and a sales tax. New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has proposed removing SSBs from state food assistance programmes. He is currently fighting a legal battle to enforce a city-wide ban on "supersize" servings of sugary drinks. But petitions against the ban have gathered more than half a million signatures.

Back here in Leith the empty Irn-Bru, Fruit Shoot and Red Cola bottles glint in the grass around our local park. The local Italian ice-cream shop is selling Irn-Bru sorbet. You can get six litres of 35% sugar drinks for just £2 down the road in Iceland. That's just 50p to put an adult into Lustig's fructose danger zone. What's wrong with water, asks Annie Anderson, professor of public health nutrition at Dundee University. "We need to promote water drinking: it's cool, refreshing, thirst-quenching and healthy!"

We've always taken a lot of sugar in Scotland. Our grandparents put sugar-ally sticks – liquorice and molasses – under the bed in a bowl of water overnight (next to the bedpan), to drink the pale brown brew first thing in the morning. The journalist Audrey Gillan, who grew up in a Glasgow housing scheme, remembers the visits of the "gingers" van, delivering bottles of limeade on credit, like the milkman. Workers in the Clyde shipyards were proud to be fuelled on "lemonade and a jilly piece": sugar, then and now, is cheap energy for the poor, and it still provides nearly 20% of Scottish calorie intake for adults and children. Though the percentage is dropping slightly, it's still nearly twice what it should be. According to the historian and nutritionist Maisie Steven, Scots kids eat four times the amount of sugar they did in 1942.

Up the road in Fife, farmer Mike Small has high hopes for the campaign for a Scottish tax on SSBs: he and his sustainable food campaign, the Fife Diet, will launch a new manifesto for it in September. "It's going to happen, because it's just so bloody obvious. There was a report just last month from Scottish doctors saying that type 2 diabetes has doubled. They're amputating limbs from people in their 20s."

Forms of SSB tax have already started in Denmark, France, Finland and Hungary. Scotland, Small says, is in the mood to follow. "There's an opportunity. The Scottish government is in the right frame of mind for doing stuff that's about regulatory control, rather than soft policies for behavioural change. Because those just don't work with tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages. These are addictive substances." 

And the soft drinks industry's defence? "Propaganda to blanket their profiteering – profiteering that causes illness like diabetes. Unforgivable."

The Scottish government is – I'm told – considering a tax on sugary drinks. But first it has to conclude a battle over a minimum alcohol price (an idea of David Cameron's that he has already dropped). It's been held up in the courts for two years, the fight led by the Scotch Whisky Association – which, apart from its worries about jobs and profits, has a core belief that states should not be able to tax companies punitively on health grounds. And that is the heart of the matter.

The story behind the label. Composite: Observer

Alex Renton's forthcoming ebook, Planet Carnivore, will be published by Guardian Shorts on 26 August. Find out more at

The truth about fruit drinks: Q and A with Britvic

Why is the GDA info in a product that appears to be aimed at under-18s given in adult quantities?

Last month, Britvic signed up to the Department of Health's new voluntary Front of Pack Nutrition labelling scheme. As part of this, and in line with the new European Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers (EU FIC), the Reference Intakes (RIs), formerly know as Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) used on front of pack must be those set out in the regulations. As there is currently no provision in the regulation for the use of Children's RIs, adult values must therefore be adopted.

The information displayed on the website is correct according to the new nutrition-labelling regulations. We intend to update all product labels by December 2014, which is the deadline for compliance to the EU FIC regulation.

On what basis does a drink containing no fibre claim to be fruit juice?

Fruit Shoot My-5 meets the definition of a fruit juice drink as set out in the Fruit Juices and Fruit Nectars Regulations, 2003. Due to the manufacturing processes used to create a fruit juice product, the fibre content will be less than that found in the physical fruit itself. As a result of this, and the naturally containing sugars found in fruit juice, fruit juices can only count as one portion of the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

And, given that, why is it so vividly billed as My-5? Does that mean it is a 5-a-day drink, and how do you justify that?

Fruit Shoot My-5 can count as one portion of the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which is a standard term used widely throughout the business. More information about 5-a-day can be found here. A 150ml portion of 100% fruit juice counts as one portion of your 5-a-day. Fruit Shoot My-5 contains at least 80% fruit juice and therefore provides at least 160ml of fruit juice in each 200ml bottle.

Is the Vitamin C added?
Yes, Vitamin C is added to Fruit Shoot My-5.

What proportion of the sugar is fructose in the product?
Fruit Shoot My-5 contains no added sugar, only naturally occurring sugars from the fruit, a proportion of which will be fructose.

The demon drink: war on sugar | Life and style | The Observer

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