Fantastic news – booze and fags are as harmless as sugar
Posted by Angry Exile
I know this isn’t new news as it, or something very much like it, was doing the rounds on the anti-nannying blogs not so very long ago, and I’m certainly not the only one to have deliberately misinterpreted the headline. But what else can you do in the face of such relentless nannying but carry on taking the piss out of them?
Sugar is so harmful that it should be controlled in the same way as tobacco and alcohol, according to a team of leading public health experts.
Three US scientists from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) maintain sugar is more than just “empty calories” that makes people fat.
They argue that high calorie, sweetened food is indirectly responsible for 35 million annual deaths worldwide due to lifestyle-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Professors Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis call for restrictions and controls on sugar that mirror those on tobacco and alcohol.
You know, I thought they might.
The health hazards were similar to the effects of drinking too much alcohol — which was, in any event, manufactured from the distillation of sugar.
Yep, add two sugars to my coffee and I’m absofuckingloutely anyone’s, the cheapest of cheap dates. No, I know that’s not what you mean but seriously, you lot can’t possibly be sitting there with a straight face and telling us that the effects are similar and then bringing up the completely irrelevant point that sugar is used to produce alcohol. Come on, that’s like saying that beer is bad and wheat, which makes beer, also makes Weet-Bix. True, but bugger all to do with anything.
The main culprit is said to be fructose, a sugar molecule that is commonly added to processed food in sweetening agents such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). There is increasing evidence that excess fructose has harmful effects on the body.
And you know where else you find fructose?
Also lots of berries, if I recall. It’s tempting at this point to change the post title to ‘Your five a day is going to kill you’ except I used that last November over at the Orphanage. How about ‘An apple a day keeps the mortician employed’ instead? Or would it be a different kind of fructose that’s bad for you because it knows it’s in nasty processed food instead of something nice and natural, like an unwashed apple with bird shit on or some nice broc-E. coli florets.
Anyway, it’s by the by because this equivalence to tobacco and alcohol is just ridiculous whether you say sugar’s just as bad or that booze and ciggies are no worse. One thing I will give the anti-fags and anti-booze brigade is this: when they say that the body has no need for alcohol or tobacco they do have a point. I no longer consume either and I haven’t starved to death, so from a strictly nutritional point of view smoking and drinking must have no value. Needless to say I don’t follow their example and ignore all the non-nutritional value smokers and drinkers get, which is basically that they just enjoy it – something these joyless arseholes who want it all banned, or at least under their control, may be incapable of understanding – but I’m not going to suggest that the human body needs five to ten smokes and a couple of beers a day or it’ll stop working.*
The same can’t be said of sugar which is actually quite important, something the article doesn’t really get round to. I remember being taught at school about a molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, about half a pound of which sloshes around inside each of us. Having only half a pound makes it sound like something relatively unimportant but here’s the thing: it’s what gives energy to all your muscles including, I believe, your heart and the diaphragm muscles that work your lungs. And half a pound of ATP will only run your body for about ten minutes or so. Fortunately we’re producing ATP more or less constantly as well as using it up all the time, so that we actually go through about our body weight of ATP over the course of a day. If you already know that mitochondria living in your cells are responsible for making all that ATP you may now make a Star Wars prequel joke about it. You’ll also know what the mitochondria make it out of: sugar.
Okay, I know that’s simplifying things, but it boils down to needing the mitochondria to make ATP for you as your fuel tank for it is a bit on the small side, and for them to do that they need you to put food containing sugars into your head hole regularly. Can you put too much sugar in? Yeah, sure, of course, nobody’s saying otherwise. Does it make you fatter if you do? Again, yes, because the body can turn fat into sugars for the mitochondria when needed, meaning that while the ATP fuel tank is stupidly small you can have a fat fuel tank almost as large as you want. Some might call this intelligent design but if my car only held a pint of petrol and came with a small refinery in the boot and capacity for several barrels of Brent crude I’d have bought a different one. However, while we can reject a car our bodies we’re stuck with, which means a certain amount of sugar intake isn’t an option but a necessity.
And because some of us (ahem, including me, but if you’d tasted Mrs Exile’s baking you’d understand) do indeed take in more than we need these nannying killjoys want to regulate this necessity. For everybody.
Speaking about the comment article, Professor Lustig, from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, said: “As long as the public thinks that sugar is just ’empty calories’, we have no chance in solving this.”
Great, so they won’t try then? Yeah, some hope.
“There are good calories and bad calories…
Ohhh-kay, I was geared up to pay attention to you, Rob, but I’m going to have to stop you there because that’s the worst kind of unscientific arse gravy. Did you give the press conference in the middle of a kindergarten or something? A calorie isn’t good or bad, it’s just a unit of energy. If you apply some energy to 1 gram of water so that you raise its temperature by 1˚C you’ve used one calorie. Saying there are good calories and bad calories is as ridiculous as saying there are good BTUs and bad BTUs, good joules and bad joules, good millimetres and bad millimetres. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, complete bollocks. Shall we just take all the hectoring as read and cut to the chase – what exactly is it you want?
In their commentary, the experts propose adding taxes to processed foods that contain any form of added sugar.
These would include carbonated drinks, other sugar-sweetened beverages such as juice and chocolate milk, and sugared cereals.
Other strategies included controlling access with measures such as age limits for the purchase of sugary drinks, and tightening controls on vending machines and snack bars in schools and workplaces.
Thought so. Fuck off.
Professor Schmidt [said]: “We’re not talking prohibition.”
Oh, that’s big of you, Laura. But really you are talking prohibition or something close because you’re telling us that it’s as bad as alcohol and tobacco, one of which has been prohibited once in the past and both of which, we’re often told by your fellow travellers, are unsafe in any quantity.
“We’re not advocating a major imposition of the Government into people’s lives.”
What? Yes you are. Taxation and age limits and controls on vending machines? Were you asleep for that bit?
“We’re talking about gentle ways to make sugar consumption slightly less convenient, thereby moving people away from the concentrated dose.”
Oh, that creepy nudge technique again. Too bad, we know what that looks like. I’d say try again, but really, don’t.
The experts concluded in their article: “Regulating sugar will not be easy — particularly in the ’emerging markets’ of developing countries where soft drinks are often cheaper than potable water or milk.
“We recognise that societal intervention to reduce the supply and demand for sugar faces an uphill political battle against a powerful sugar lobby, and will require active engagement from all stakeholders.”
Oh dear me, this is cookie cutter nannying (sugar free dough, natch). You could almost change all references to sugar to read alcohol or tobacco and it would… in fact, screw it. Let’s try:
“Regulating alcohol will not be easy — particularly in the ’emerging markets’ of developing countries where alcopops are often cheaper than potable water or milk.
“We recognise that societal intervention to reduce the supply and demand for alcohol faces an uphill political battle against a powerful drinks lobby, and will require active engagement from all stakeholders.”
So that’s three ‘sugars’ and one ‘soft drinks’ replaced by two ‘alcohols’, one ‘drinks’ and an ‘alcopops’, and doesn’t it come out sounding familiar? Granted, harder to do with tobacco when it’s had the ragged arse taxed out of it to the extent that I doubt it’s cheaper than water in many places, but then it’s not true of alcohol either and it still gets repeated. Also we all know that people who’ll claim that tobacco needs to be more expensive are ten a penny, except that’s not quite right either. They’re really nothing like as cheap as a penny and it’s more like pay for one rent seeker and get another nine at the same rate.
All of which goes to reinforce what many of us, smokers and non-smokers and drinkers and teetotallers alike, who’ve been banging on about increasing nannyism have been saying for quite a while now: Niemöller has never been more right. They came for the smokers but they were never going to be satisfied with just controlling them. They came next for the drinker and won’t be satisfied with adding control of them either. And now it’s the salad dodgers and people who eat too much sweet stuff, including fruit and berries (fructose, remember). They will, in fact, never be satisfied until they control everyone, because there will always be someone somewhere who overdoes things. Give it long enough and I wouldn’t be shocked to see oxygen cropping up because of what it does to iron, the same stuff that’s in the blood of the nation’s children. All those kids with rusting veins, it’s a national disgrace and we must take the lead in yadda yadda yadda, won’t someone think of the chiiiiiiildren.
They simply will never, ever stop because, paraphrasing C. S. Lewis, tyranny exercised for the good of its victims is the worst of all tyrannies – cruelty and greed take the occasional nap but those who torment us for our own good do it with the approval of their consciences. They’re not all evil, but for all our sakes they must be resisted just as if they were.
* The owners of some of those human bodies might stop working, but that’s not quite the same thing.