Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Conspiracy Theorists forward!

I wasn't sure - as this is diabetes related - as to whether to post it here or on Diabetes Daily. I decided to post it here and link from DD as being the easiest option.

Someone posted - in jest - that Diabetes was unheard of before 1947.  Actually there is documentary evidence that the early Egyptian civilisation had recognised the symptoms; they just didn't know what it was and what caused it.

That aside, the gist of the thread was whether members believed there was a conspiracy going on that was preventing a cure for the disease. The concensus was that there was no knowledgeable one, which goes to prove one thing that I maintain: there's no such thing as a conspiracy, just blatant stupidity. I'd like to invent a word here to sum it up:
Stupiracy: Stupidity that appears to be a conspiracy, but borne out of ignorance.
Yes, there is a blatant stupiracy going on here and it's all down to that wonderful ideal:- profit. Obviously a lot of this comes from pure greed, but some of it - as I've intimated - is just pure ignorance.

The nub of the matter is that the governments of the world have a serious healthcare problem building due to the increase in the incidence of diabetes, especially what they term "type 2". They are all seriously worried as to how they are going to pay for this. My simple suggestion is:
tax the convenience food manufacturer's additives, especially high fructose corn syrup
Now here's why I say this.

Let's start with the root of the problem. The actual incidence of what is erroneously called by a lot of clinicians "type 2" has escalated quite alarmingly since WWII, and it cannot be put down purely to the improvement in diagnosis of the disease: the statistics far out way this as being the only factor. So what has changed since the late 1940's?


Now some of this rise can be blamed on the lifestyle changes that our modern world has given us: we are more sedentary, the degree of manual labour has decreased, cheap powered personal travel is extensively avbailable. But you cannot put it all down to this. The price of food has dropped overall, but not in terms of the healthier alternative, and don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go all the way out the other side and blame it all on what we call "fast food". What I'm blaming is the content of fast food / junk food / convenience food call it what you will, it comes preprepared and you just stick in the microwave for five minutes..

I cannot prove this personally: I'm not a research chemist, but it cannot be coincidental that instances of diabetes have increased with the increases of cheaper additives and ingredients being put into pre-prepared food. How do I come to this unscientific conclusion?   My wife has been allergic to apples since she was a child: they give her severe abdominal discomfort and at first it was thought that it was the high level of fructose within them that caused this. We could live with this, just buy pears and other hard fruit and we'll be OK. Then I did some more research. Pears and bananas actually have (weight for weight) more fructose in them so this obviously couldn't be the entire story.

Now comes the scary part. We started to notice that certain favourite "packet" and pre- prepared foods were starting to produce the same problem as apples and at first we couldn't work it out: we read the ingredients list looking for things like apples and cider and they just weren't there. Then we noticed that one particular item (a favourite biscuit) started to produce the problem that hadn't the week before and by chance we hadn't thrown away the old empty packaging. Comparing the ingredients list we instantly noticed the difference:
"high fructose-glucose syrup".
The older version of the product contained just "glucose syrup". We checked other products: they were the same.

More digging around the inter-web revealed what might be the problem: the ratio between fructose and glucose within the food! There are three main "versions" in common use within the food industry, all different "strengths" of the same thing: They are called HFCS42, HFCS55 and HFCS90. Now the name should give you a clue.

HFCS42 has actually got more glucose than fructose in it. a ration of about 1:1.1
HFCS55 is 55% fructose and 45% glucose: a ratio of about 1.2:1
Pears are about  66% fructose and 34% glucose: a ratio of about 1.5:1
Apples are about  70% fructose and about 30% glucose: a ratio of about 2:1
HFCS90 - the most common is 90% fructose to 10% glucose : an enormous ratio of 9:1!!!

Why do they use HFCS90? Well it's a simple calculation, the sweeter something is the less you have to put in, so the less you have to spend.

How this "ratio" causes the problem is someone else's research grant - I don't have the training. All I know is that as the number of products containing HFCS has increased so the number of these products in our shopping basket has decreased!

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