Friday, June 13, 2008

Contrarian Medicine

Now, as I remember it, sugar is bad for you. Or, at least, it's not very good for you. I'm not sure anymore, though, because recently I watched someone choose a soda BECAUSE it was made with sugar.

So I guess sugar is still bad for you, but high fructose corn syrup is worse, which makes sugar ok by comparison. Continuing this logic, you can have a big bowl of Cool Whip for lunch because at least it's not searing-hot volcanic ash.

People tell me that HFCS is bad because it doesn't trigger the chemical signal that tells your brain that you're full. And since your brain doesn't know that you're full, you keep eating. This is, of course, why people who drink sodas with lunch continue to sit there eating meal after meal, charging hundreds of dollars to their credit cards until they pass out from exhaustion. Unfortunately the human mind has absolutely no sort of redundancy for protecting itself, and we're basically just robots to every chemical suggestion.

The best part of the HFCS controversy is how, when I was young, people told me that sugar was bad because it suppressed your appetite. Now HFCS is going the other way, pushing me to finish my broccoli, and people are making a fuss.

But perhaps there is something to it, I mean we weren't designed to consume HFCS, it isn't natural. Natural things are much better for you, except all the ones that will make you sick or kill you if you eat them or maybe just touch them, because you could get a bad rash.

I think the real motivator behind the whole thing is our need to have someone to blame. It's a lot easier to think that bad health is the fault of a single source than to believe that it's a complex issue with a number of factors at work*. That, and hippies who sell healing crystals know when they've found a good hook.

*And by that, I mean that it's our CELL PHONES!


Jeremy Minnick said...

I think the controversy does not actually lie within the sugar/HFCS issue, but a more specific one relating to the origination of this problem.

Back during the coke wars (I'm told), Coke discovered that HFCS cost much less than regular sugar thusly decreasing the price of a coke. But rather than give a price discount, they increased quantities.

In response, other soda manufacturers did the same thing. And then the whole food industry caught on to this decreased cost. From what I've read, this increase in portions started in the 70's and not surprisingly, so did America's increase in obesity.

Sam Cook said...

I'm aware of that argument, but it's one of several employed in the anti-HFCS issue along with the appetite thing.

The point of my post, though, is that these kinds of arguments are mostly attempts to find something to blame. It's a lot easier to say, "Here, this thing, this is why we're fat," than to look at the big picture (cultural shifts, economic changes, environmental factors) and see the problem as the complex issue that it is.