High-fructose corn syrup ups the sugar content of many
As the obesity rates continue to climb in developed countries, and research about hunger and how our bodies process food advances, researchers are finding more clues that the epidemic’s cause is more complex than simple overeating. And one contributor may be the increase in the amount of sugar in processed foods, especially with the rise of mass-produced, cheaper-than-cane-sugar high-fructose corn syrup in the 1970s.
At The Guardian, documentary maker Jacques Peretti has written a detailed history of the food industry’s role in popularizing high-fructose corn syrup and fueling obesity. Peretti’s story begins with corn overproduction in the 1970s causing a surplus, which led to the mass production of corn-based foods, including high-fructose corn syrup, long before worries about obesity had arisen.
So much adipose tissue…
Most of us think of our love handles as something we’d rather do without. Scientists would be glad to take them off your hips—er, hands.
In a feature for The Telegraph’s magazine, we learn that researchers at Bath University, who are trying to study the impact of exercise on fat tissue, had until recently been painstakingly recruiting volunteers to donate flab, a gram or less per person. But then they realized there’s a sizable population of people willing to pay to have their fat removed. After partnering up with a cosmetic surgery clinic in Bath, they’re rolling in the stuff: they’ve collected six kilograms of human fat, equal to 6000-12,000 volunteers at their previous rate. All that fat came from tummy tucks. (Liposuction fat, it turns out, is no good, because the procedure uses enzymes that break down the tissue too far for research.)
It’s hard to argue against repurposing plastic surgery leftovers for science research, but the ethical waters get murkier when money is involved. The Telegraph reporter goes inside a L’Oreal-affiliated lab that tests products on human skin from breast and tummy reductions. (The scientists there have preferences too: “I must admit I prefer to work with breast reduction skin because the skin is nicer. For the tummy, the skin has been extended,” one said to the Telegraph.)
A Gallup poll reports that on average Americans weigh almost 20 pounds more than they did in 1990, based on the self-reports of more than 1,000 people. The average man weighs 196 pounds while the average woman is 160 pounds. And most of us—62 percent—are already overweight or obese.
But that doesn’t mean we’re ready to come right out and admit it, at least not to a telephone pollster. When asked how they would describe their own weight, only 39 percent of Americans described themselves as “overweight,” while 56 percent reported their weight was “about right.” Neither of these metrics have changed very much since the poll was first given 21 years ago.
Even when you’re trying to eat healthy foods, it can be hard to know what to buy: Few us have the time to decipher the nutrition facts on every item we’re considering at the grocery store, and the dizzying number of health claims plastered on labels make the task, if anything, more confusing. The Institute of Medicine offered a possible solution in a report released yesterday: put a simple, standardized rating—zero to three stars or checkmarks—on every food package.
What’s the News: Trouble sticking to your diet? It may not be entirely your fault. Scientists, reporting in the journal Cell Metabolism, have now learned that when you starve yourself of calories, your brain cells also starve, causing your neurons to begin eating parts of themselves for energy. The self-cannibalism, in turn, cranks up hunger signals. This mouse study may lead to better treatments for human obesity and diabetes.