27 March 2004

---Uhh, I'll Just Have Water...

Next time you get thirsty or have a meal, better think twice if you will get soda or just have a plain glass of water.

The health-breaking news: "High-fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks and other products may be contributing significantly to the growing obesity epidemic in this country."

Researchers led by Barry M. Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined consumption records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 1967-2000. In their study (to come out in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition), they found out that Americans age 2 and above get an average 132 calories a day from high-fructose corn syrup, mostly in soft drinks, compared to 80 calories in 1977. Professor Popkin said he believes a third to half of the increase in calorie intake since the 1970s comes from soft drinks and fruit drinks.

The data showed an increase in the use of high-fructose corn sweeteners in the late 1970s and 1980s "coincidental with the epidemic of obesity," said Popkin co-researcher Dr. George Bray, an obesity scientist of the Louisiana State University Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America, a trade group representing brand name companies, including the Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo were quick to retort that, "It's not about the high-fructose corn syrup being a part of foods. It's about how many calories we're eating against how many calories we're burning."


What's with the "It-is-about-how-many-calories-we're-eating-against-how-many-calories-we're-burning" statement?

Of course that's a factual statement. What does the soda industry want us to do? Continue imbibing Pepsis and Cokes and then try to burn them like crazy? Isn't that the crazier alternative? It will only be okay to drink and eat a lot of calories if you engage in absolutely rigorous activities. But that is not the world of today. We tend to be more of couch-potatoes than farmers, carpenters, or construction workers. And even if we were farmers, carpenters, and construction workers, we still have to make sure that our activities did indeed burn the "sinful calories" we took in. Times have changed. Man is no longer a nomad hunting for his prey. The prey today is always ready for the taking.

The thing is, the consumers continue to be uneducated about the ingredients of what they are eating and this welcome study somehow puts into perspective a significant contributing factor to obesity. If you were to ask me, I do not need a study to know what will make me fat. Even our mothers can tell us what makes us fat. Studies are for documentary purposes only, and to convince a world gullible only for evidences and proofs. The frustrating thing is, even after you come with the evidence, they suddenly twist and deny any link, definitive or otherwise.

A 12-oz or 360 mL can of soda pop has some 40 grams of refined sugars. Translated, that means 10 teaspoons of pure calories (1 teaspoon = 4 grams of sugar). Tell me, would you swallow ten teaspoons of sugar in one sitting??? You would probably, if you are an impish kid...and even that is wrong and ought to be monitored, if you ask me. It has long been known that meals high in refined sugars can promote obesity, which increases the risks of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. You can also ask the dentists and they will tell you that the same contributes to tooth decay.

Consider the following table from an online softdrink monitor:

So, the next time you get thirsty, consider the zero-calorie alternative: water.

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