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Industry pushes sugary products, while obfuscating the health hazards (ucsf.edu)
132 points by laurex on Dec 26, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 123 comments



I started to notice that sugar content has increased in sodas.

I used to work in a grocery store 12/13 years ago, and I remember stacking sodas on the shelves. The sugar content was 35g. I stacked them everyday so as far as I remember this was the norm at the time for a one serving in California.

Only a couple months ago, I started looking at the labels of sodas again. The content varies from 39g to 55g in California.

I was recently in Utah, and I took a picture of label of ginger ale. I compared it to the exact same can in California, the one in CA has less sugar content.


Are you sure that's adjusted for serving size?


Does the US not have a section telling you the nutritional content per-100g (or 100mL or whatever "standard" measurement you folks have) so you can compare products? Or is everything given in serving sizes (which can be arbitrarily chosen by the producer)?


55g of sugar per 100ml of product would be insane. Coca Cola has about 10-12g per 100ml. Starbucks Mulled Fruit Drink (widely reported in the UK as a very sugary drink) has about 14g per 100ml.


That wasn't my point -- I was confused that there isn't a standard way to compare food content in the US. In Australia, by law, nutritional information contains a column with the "serving size", and a column for 100g or 100mL of the product so you can compare similar products much more easily) I can only imagine how difficult it would be to compare the nutrition between two different drinks or foods if they have different container sizes.

In other words, you could easily track the change in sugar content over the years if you paid attention to the "per 100{g,mL}" column without having to do any maths.


Sorry, yes, I agree with you.


The nutritional content label for individual size soft drinks is usually for the whole container. It's not standardized to 100mL.


I would also be interested in this. Many soft drink recipes are well-established and rarely adjusted because even small, well-intentioned changes can damage the brand and customer loyalty. Furthermore, it seems counterintuitive that producers would increase sugar content by as much as 1.57 times because that would inherently cost them significantly more money over time.


Well it’s also the type of sugar. Before the 70’s HFCS didn’t exist and it didn’t hit mainstream until the early 80’s. Soft drinks are now predominately made with HFCS which includes multiple sugars, some that are broken down in the liver and others that go into the blood steam and require insulin.

Keep in mind one of the reasons most foods include HFCS is because it’s subsidized and cheaper than say cane sugar, so they could probably add 1.57 times the HFCS and still save money compared to cane sugar.


You're right, but the aforementioned "12/13" years ago was only 2006. I don't think many significant changes have been made in that period, but I may be wrong.


There is no actual proof that HFCS is more harmful than other types of sugar.


That’s a strange reply...I never suggested HFCS was different or more harmful than any other sugar, I only mentioned that it contains both sugar that is processed by the liver and sugar that is released into the blood stream triggering insulin.

Although now that you bring it up...if one were to choose it’s probably better to have only a single one type of sugar processed by the liver or released into the blood triggering insulin...rather than both.


HCFS contains fructose and glucose.

Sucrose contains fructose and glucose (50% of each).

HFCS and sucrose are broken down in the same way. HFCS comes in different formulations, but the most commonly used is close to sucrose at 55% fructose and 45% glucose.

HFCS vs sucrose probably isn't the problem. Huge portion sizes, total amounts of sugars and fats, and sedentary lifestyle is probably more important.


>HFCS vs sucrose probably isn't the problem.

You’re right about portion being a big issue, which reinforces my earlier point that HFCS is cheaper than other sweeteners so it’s opted for and in higher amounts.

That said I’d say it is a problem. Look at children, there wasn’t a medical diagnosis of childhood type2 or childhood non alcoholic fatty liver disease, now both are a problem and childhood fatty liver disease is diagnosed at even higher rates than type2. So medically I think it is a problem.

And saying it’s a portion/life style issue I agree with 100% and these chronic diseases can be prevented in most cases without cutting out 100% of sugar, but i don’t know why layman can’t echo the medical science and admit cutting 100% of sugar can prevent 100% of these medical cases. In other words you can be sedentary and eat huge portions (you will have other health issues for sure which likely include liver issues) but you won’t get type 2 so long as there isn’t any insulin spiking sugar in the diet.

Edit:

Fructose is sent from the blood directly to be processed in the liver and over consuming results in deposits of fat in the liver cells (aka fatty liver disease). Glucose goes straight to the blood and is only sent to the liver to convert to glycogen if the body needs it (but most people’s glycogen stores are already full) and glucose is converted to fat in fat cells (no liver processing). In short glucose and fructose are not processed the same.


For soda cans, the regular size in the US 355ml and serving size is 1.


It's mind boggling how much sugar is in everything. Just looked at my girlfriend's Starbucks Chai tea container. 100g sugar! She would be better off drinking a bottle of Coke. And Starbucks are supposed to be good guys .

On a related note: how do they get that much sugar into these drinks? If I made a liter of Chai tea and poured 100g sugar into it I don't think it would be drinkable.


Why is starbucks supposed to be good? Isn't this the company that makes the double pump vanilla frappe, and almost certainly started a viral instagram marketing campaign targeting teenagers with their rainbow unicorn drinks? They're in the business of selling addictive fast food just as much as all the other players.


> It's mind boggling how much sugar is in everything

I remember traveling to Western Europe a couple of years ago (I live further East) and trying to buy plain yogurt from a supermarket, I mean yogurt which should have tasted as close as possible to the one my peasant grandma used to make. It was close to impossible to find such a product, as even the yogurt labeled as "plain" had a sweetish taste, you could definitely tell that they had put sugar in it. I imagine that in the US the state of affairs regarding sugary foods is even worse.


Can’t be Germany, natural yoghurt is commonly available here. And yes, US makes it very difficult to buy healthy food.


its Amazing how much less sugar common foods in Germany have than the USA. It took us a bit to adjust but when we got back all the bakery sweets here tasted disgusting. Wish we could change the culture here to be closer to European in that aspect.


When I was about 10 years old my parents took my siblings and me on a 5 week vacation to the US (I'm from Europe). It was a lot of fun, but I distinctly remember that it was impossible for me to eat the bread that we would buy at the supermarket because it was just too sweet. And this was not because my parents just bought some bread but they actually tried to find some "normal" tasting bread and it was not possible.

But for pudding the problem was kind of the reverse: It was hard to find normal tasting pudding because instead of sugar and fat there were artificial sweeteners in everything.


I used to eat rye bread because it was heartier than white or 'wheat' bread. Because unlike modern wheat rye still had historical ratio's of carbs to protein.

Now it's just rye flavored white bread.

And all the healthy hippie dippie bread have buttloads of hidden sugars in it.

So now I mostly avoid bread.


You can always bake your own bread. Takes only about 10 real minutes of your time (plus 2 hours proofing and 30 minutes baking), you know exactly what's in it, and it's certainly cheaper (you just need flour, water, salt, yeast, and optionally a little bit of olive oil).


>"its Amazing how much less sugar common foods in Germany have than the USA"

This news article from 2015 states that Germany is second to the US in sugar consumption. The data comes from market research company Euromonitor:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/05/where...

A more recent published report (some of which uses 2008 data) looks at the consumption of "ultra-processed" foods in Europe. "Ultra-processed" refers to food made in a factory with industrial ingredients and additives invented by food technologists.

Which countries in Europe consume "ultra-processed" food more than any other? The top three are: UK, Ireland and Germany:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/02/ultra-proces...


Glad to hear, that's a plus for me for German foods then. It was actually the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the Coop stores (which is strange because otherwise they sell great cheese). What's even worse is that after two or three days I was getting accustomed to that sweetish yogurt and I was starting to think that that was its natural taste.


I'm sure you can get natural yoghurt from Coop. Maybe they just use a different culture from what you are used to.


Like I said, after a couple of days even to me it started tasting “normal”, but at first it certainly tasted more sweet compared to what I can usually purchase in my country. Different to what I was accustomed, yes, but also more sweet. For comparison I never had the same issue while buying yogurts from Greece or ayran from Turkey. They also tasted different to what I was accustomed but not sweeter.


Very easy to find plain yogurt in the US without sugar.

A bit harder if you don't want it to contain gelatin or pectin.

Of course, varies from state to state.

Search for Nancy's yogurt in your area. Easily available in the Western US in any grocery store. In the Midwest I found it only in health food stores.


I just purchased an Instant Pot recently and it advertised yogurt making.

I didn't try it because I'm indifferent on yogurt here. Now that you've told me that homemade yogurt is significantly different, I might have to give it a try...


No, I buy plain unsweetened yogurt in the US several times month without a problem.


I can only find it in huge containers. Sugary yogurt gets sold in small ones but unsweetened only in large ones.


Starbucks are supposed to be good guys? I thought they were pretty well known as the shop that produces sugary milkshakes with caffeine in them.


I never go there so I don't know their products. But I always had the impression that they are riding on a reputation of being a 'responsible' business compared to for example Coca-Cola. But based on the nutrition label of the Chai I guess Starbucks is really just another sugar water manufacturer.


I always thought of Starbucks as the store for people who want to drink coffee but don't actually like coffee


Hmm. I don’t know what their marketing is like in the US, but it’s certainly nothing close to responsible/healthy where I am. Their thing has always been trying to be the social space of choice for young adults here - i.e. if you want to hang out with friends or kill time you go to Starbucks.


I would say they're better than most companies, but I wouldn't put then into the "good guys" category--at least not regarding nutrition anyway. Maybe I have too high of a bar regarding who I consider to be in the "good guys" category though.


Lots of people don't realize that 1 cup milk has 13g sugar from the lactose.

For comparison, a typical sugar packet is 2-4g.

(This is why cereal + milk is probably just about the unhealthiest thing possible to start your day).

It's a good idea to switch from the sugary/milky Starbucks drinks to anything else - like cold brew, or black coffee where you add trace amounts of sugar/cream yourself, if any.


I don't think lactose is nearly as bad because it doesn't go through the same liver digestion process that causes insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. Lactose is broken into glucose and galactose before it ever enters the bloodstream, and then galactose is digested in the liver but doesn't produce triglyceride byproducts as far as I can tell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactose#Metabolism


Not sure I would recommend adult humans drink milk, but 13g is not really that much (depending on your choice of cereal) the USDA suggests males 19-30 could eat up to 82g/day (the WHO is a little more reasonable at 50g for all adults)[1]

1: http://www.foodpyramid.com/daily-sugar-intake/


The USDA is at least complicit in the diet this article criticizes.


Starbucks has always been sugar with a side of coffee. That's its appeal.


> And Starbucks are supposed to be good guys

Do what now?


I always assumed after Austin Powers depicted Starbucks as the base of Dr Evil's empire that it was, in fact, at least slightly sketchy. I can't say I have any other sources to back that up though, except for what you just said.


Get this the American Heart Association which is noted for focusing on fat as the cause heart disease has a recommended daily allowance for sugar.

For women it's 25g/day.


Starbucks is a worst offender. You can buy black coffee, plain tea, and bananas, everything else they sell is terrible for you if you eat it regularly.


There's a reason I call Starbucks drinks "milkshakes" instead of "coffee" or "tea."


Sugar, all by itself is bad (awful bad), but when you add "Red 40" to the mix children go into instant hyperactive-overdrive. They start bouncing off the walls and you might as well be feeding them crack cocaine.

I spent a total of 24 days watching our grandkids this year and everyone of them was a battle over what they'd eat. I could not get the oldest (11 years old now) to take a single bite of real food during the course of two 10 day stints or the past four days. I did only slightly better with his younger sister, 5 years old now, and she's getting worse, not better.

Last night we had a huge spread of wonderful homemade food for Christmas Dinner and those two kids didn't taste a bit of it.

It's like watching my grandkids get slowly poisoned. It's insane and there is nothing I can do about it.


Red 40 has been extensively studied: "the available scientific evidence does not substantiate a link between the color additives and behavioral effects".

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allura_Red_AC

Maybe something else is going on with your grandchildren?


Did you try just giving them the option of eating the food you made or going to bed without any food (and following through)? I've heard that works well for European parents, though it's obviously easier said than done.

Also, just not having any of the stuff with Red 40 or whatever in it in the house can probably help - it certainly helps me eat better.


It's really not up to me. I am not their parent.

These kids are my step-grandkids. And while their mother loves me like a father, I'm not really able to step in and make demands. She was 18 when her mother and I got together, so the best I can do there is lean on her, and I have been.

I actually stayed at home and raised my daughter myself, and when I met my current wife she had a daughter that was 6 years old and a son who was still 3 years old. Those two I've been much more involved with. They're in their 30s now but none of them have any kids yet, and I don't expect their kids will go through this sugar addiction


There is no good/conclusive evidence that Red 40 and other food dyes affect hyperactivity.


Same with sugar for that matter.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199402033300501#t=...

And, yeah, if you give an 11 year old the choice between vegetables and junk food that'll pick junk food, news at 11!


That link cites a study from 1994.


That sounds like poor parenting more than anything else. Also, the "sugar -> hyperactive ADHD kids!" thing is a myth.


It is no doubt poor parenting.

And no, sugar does make kids hyperactive. You really only have to spend time with them to know this. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't.


Actually, sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. As soon as you double-blind the people evaluating the children's activity levels, no one can tell which children had sugar.

Here are some links to the research:

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/busting-sugar-hyper...

https://www.psychologicalscience.org/uncategorized/myth-too-...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_misconceptions#...

The reason most people have this misconception is confirmation bias. Children are almost always eating sugar, and almost always "hyperactive".

If you still don't believe me, (I'm sure _your_ children are different), do your own study. It would be a fun thing to do with your children, and very easy. It's very important that make it double blinded: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-double-blind-study-27...

If you're right and your study shows it, you'll overturn a 30 year scientific consensus, and probably become internationally famous.


"you'll overturn a 30 year scientific consensus"

Wouldn't be the first time but I still wouldn't be famous..

My first wife suffered from postpartum psychosis twice years before the cause and effect was recognized by the health care industry and both times I pointed out the connection and then argued with her doctors about it.

When you're right, you're right. Doesn't matter what others say or think. I know I'm right on this issue. The science needs to catch up and start trashing those junk "pay for conclusions studies" and that's what this particular link posted here talks about.


"The reason most people have this misconception is confirmation bias. Children are almost always eating sugar, and almost always "hyperactive"."

wow... just wow.

See, that right there is where the disconnect is. Children were not "always eating sugar, and almost always "hyperactive".

You may have been as a child, and your children may be now, but no, not even close was I, or my children, or my parents, or my grandparents, or those before them.

We didn't run around all day hyperactive. This is not "normal". It's pervasive, but not normal.


> And no, sugar does make kids hyperactive.

No, it doesn't.

> You really only have to spend time with them to know this.

I don't agree with this event at the level of subjective impression (and I've spent quite a bit of time with kids, with and without sugar), but even if I did, Experience often provides subjective impressions that don't hold up to close examination.


As a general response, I'm highly suspicious of anyone denying these connections as being someone who's spent very little time with children. Anyone who cites an article to back up their opinion is especially suspect.

Now in case I'm wrong, let's have all the moms who've chimed in here please raise your hands...


Yep... just as I suspected...nothing but crickets.


I spend lots of time with my kid every day, and I've never noticed any difference in behavior when he eats lots of sugary stuff (usually once a week). Also, at every birthday party some parent will always start espousing this theory while pointing to the kids playing as evidence, and I've learned not to point out that their kid acted exactly the same way last week while visiting my kid with no sugar served at all... My pet theory is that people who claim this connection are mostly exposed to children running around and acting like children do at events where incidentally there's a lot of soda, cakes and candy.


If your kid is only eating sugar once a week that's really not the norm anymore and you've got my admiration.

Here's the thing I noticed when I was a single father. I'd have my daughter with me and she'd be fine doing what toddlers do. Someone would see us and whip out a piece of candy and give it to her, and then we'd say our goodbyes. 5-10 minutes later my daughter was bouncing off the walls, every single time that happened.

It's the sugar, and most all moms who spend a lot of time with their kids will tell you the same thing. That's who I learned about it from. And when I got up the nerve to start telling people, "Please don't give her candy" I stopped having that problem, when I was successful at stopping them.

I've seen the same thing with my youngest step-kids when my wife and I met and I took over the day to day caring for them. And I spent a great deal of time with "moms" learning from them and listening to them because when I started caring for my daughter myself (at 14 months) I realized fast that I didn't know shit about momming, and I was a very active father before then.

The funny thing about those who've posted links to "studies" here that dispute this is they must know there are many studies that do make this link for both sugar and Red 40, and that Red 40 is banned in many other countries because of it's links to making kids hyper and other issues.

I'll readily concede that these may not affect all kids the same, and that it probably affects young children most, but that really makes sense when you consider doses (serving sizes) and body weight. But in my experience it affects most children. I've not met many it doesn't, but I've met a lot of adults that ignore it.

The longer term ill effects of too much sugar are pretty well documented too. If you don't raise children to eat healthy foods you're pretty much failing as a parent.


Ok, caffeine is not the culprit.

Red 40 has a very easy to see in real life cause and effect. It's possible it doesn't affect all kids, but I've seen it way too many times to deny it.

If you've not actually taken the time to observe it yourself you really are clueless as to cause and effect, and I don't care what the "studies" say.

If you read even the title of this article you'd know why.


I don't want to believe real data, I will keep my prejudices.

Is like that how it works?


No, how it works is raising children and observing the real cause and effect and comparing it with others who've raised children.

That is "real data".

How many have you raised?


"Real data" would involve double-blind trials and a large sample size. Anything else is anecdotal evidence (which might be used to inform the question of a study, but is not a study unto itself).

I don't know how many other parents you know, but I'd guess that's it in the range of n=36 (based on an average of 40 friends in adulthood and a parental rate of 90%). If you talked with people over the internet about this in parenting forums, there is an implicit selection bias towards people who believe there is something wrong with their children (more people will seek out such information who think they need help than those who think their children are okay). All of these biases and limited sample sizes mean that your experience isn't objective enough to count as "real data" -- and even if it was you'd be proving a correlation not causation (that requires even more rigor).

I don't actually have an opinion either way, but I just wanted to point out that it would be a good idea to look up clinical studies on the topic with large sample sizes and review your position from there (maybe they back up your position, maybe they don't -- but ignoring them and stating that anecdotes from raising a child is the only valid form of evidence is incredibly unscientific).


Experience is "real data". Nothing could be more "real". To imply that real life experience is anything less is obstinate, and ignorant.

Let's look at some of that "real data" being talked about here:

__

Pediatrics. 1991 Nov;88(5):960-6.

"Effects of sugar on aggressive and inattentive behavior in children with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity and normal children:

17 subjects with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity compared with 9 age-matched control subjects"

__

Seriously, if that's all we've got for "real data" on this subject that's just bullshit, and really old bullshit too.

Since that study was published the amount of sugar consumed per day has increased close to 30%. Do you think if they increased the amount of sugar they gave those kids by 30% in would have affected the results?

That's what we're dealing with today, everyday, and most every kid.

I have far more personal clinical experience than those who conducted that study done 27 years ago, both in the number of children observed and the total hours spent observing them, and it's far more up to date.

I've also spoken with dozens of mothers who've confirmed those observations during this past decade alone, and the previous two as well, and none of us had any outside influences motivating us like those who take corporate funding to study just a handful of kids for a few weeks at most.

I'll say the same thing I told those Physicians who denied there was such a thing as postpartum psychosis back in 1985, "you don't know shit about this".

It wasn't until "Andrea Yates" that the connection was made on that. Between the time I pointed it out and 2001 they all didn't do a damned thing to learn more, and they ignored everyone like me who tried to enlighten them.

That is what is happening here, right now.

Read the damned article linked above and do some follow up on it. This is a serious problem, and kids getting hyperactive is not the most serious aspect of it. It's way worse than that.


> Experience is "real data". Nothing could be more "real". To imply that real life experience is anything less is obstinate, and ignorant.

Experiences are coloured by your personal opinions, emotions, retrospective reasoning, and so on. Yes, it's "real" -- but it's not objective or useful data in the context of discussion about a scientific argument (this is why I scare-quoted it in my response -- all data is "real" unless you literally fabricated it, but data being "real" isn't the only consideration).

You can base your life on what you feel is important, I'm just saying that (on the whole) clinical studies are by far the most effective way of discovering whether a hypothesis stands up to scrutiny.

> Do you think if they increased the amount of sugar they gave those kids by 30% in would have affected the results?

You were talking about Red 40, not sugar (and you dismissed out-of-hand that the problem wasn't caffeine).

But in any case, I never said that sugar (or Red 40) wasn't bad for children (sugar is obviously awful for humans in general, and that has been known since the 1950s with John Yudkin's work), I was saying that arguing it from purely anecdotal evidence weakens your argument needlessly.

On the Wikipedia article for Red 40 I saw a study from 2011 by the FDA that showed a possible link between Red 40 consumption and hyperactivity, but also that further testing was needed (I can't download the PDF of the study -- it's missing from the FDA website). I think pointing people to that would be a better way to argue than to argue from anecdotes.

> I've also spoken with dozens of mothers who've confirmed those observations during this past decade alone

I guess I was in the right ball-park with n=32. How did you confirm these observations? How are you sure that they didn't have a preconceived view on what caused their experiences? Did you ask questions that might have lead them to a different answer (as we know, polling questions can be written to find either result)?

While I do appreciate you wanting to find out information "from the horse's mouth", you need to consider whether you added any bias in your research. This is why double-blind trials exist, and is why you need to have a rigorous experimental design if you want to prove something.

Would you accept the argument that "I've spoken to with dozens of mothers who've confirmed that their children became autistic after being vaccinated"? Of course not. Just because "sugar is bad for children" is probably true (and "vaccines cause autism" is categorically false) doesn't mean it should be subject to less scrutiny as an argument.


Hey, I agree that double blind trials would be great, but I have to point out again that many of the studies others here are citing have huge issues. One linked here was from 1994 and to consider that as proof there is no link completely disregards the increase in consumption of both Red 40 and sugar by close to 30% and it ignores what the author of the article linked here has exposed and that's she's just getting started with her review of that data.

To leap to a "bias" in what I've observed and pointed out is a pretty far leap. I have no profit motive at all. I'm not selling anything here or getting paid to offer a conclusion, and neither were any of the mothers I've discussed this with, and the sample size is at least several times larger than the study I linked to above, and more current.

And I also pointed out another very insightful personal experience with how "Professionals" will ignore those who provide insight that is fact based when it doesn't jive with their archaic teachings.

This thread is a fine example of that. No one seemed to take into account the increased consumption of both sugar and Red 40 when citing those old studies that are being reviewed by the author. It's not unfair to say it is the data they're using is skewed to to their bias.

As far as mother's saying that vaccines triggered autism in their children, I won't leap to deny there's a link. This is not an issue I've looked into much so I don't have an opinion to offer, but my experience is that it's wise to listen to mothers who have experience and those in the health care industry have a very long history of ignoring them when they should have been listening.

All that said, I have very much enjoyed discussing this with you and appreciate you taking the time to share your insights with me. It's rare to see anyone come back to these conversations here.


> To leap to a "bias" in what I've observed and pointed out is a pretty far leap. I have no profit motive at all.

A bias doesn't mean you're being paid -- a bias just means you have a preconceived view on a topic (or are primed to have a certain view on a topic based on your other personal views).

Being paid in order to present a particular view (as though it was your own) is called corruption, not bias.

> and the sample size is at least several times larger than the study I linked to above

Both sample sizes are tiny. The study you linked to above (in my view) isn't good science -- it would've been trivial to find more children to take part in the study (and thus a small sample size seems quite fishy). But ~40 mothers also isn't a large enough sample size.

> As far as mother's saying that vaccines triggered autism in their children, I won't leap to deny there's a link. This is not an issue I've looked into much so I don't have an opinion to offer

I will -- there is absolutely no link. This has been shown by hundreds of studies, and the only available counter-evidence is a study from the 1998 which was written by a doctor (Andrew Wakefield) that later lost his medical license because his study was fraudulent. There is no link, and I would recommend not wasting any energy being open-minded about the prospect.

The reason autism rates in children have increased is because we now classify more people as autistic and have a greater understanding of high-functioning autism (since our understanding of autism has improved in the past few decades).

> my experience is that it's wise to listen to mothers who have experience and those in the health care industry have a very long history of ignoring them when they should have been listening.

Mothers are incredibly risk-averse when it comes to their childrens' safety -- this is obviously understandable and important (it's an aspect of our evolutionary biology). But being incredibly risk-averse can also make you incredibly susceptible to fearmongering (which the prevalence of homeschooling and concerning decrease in vaccinations have proven).

I understand the appeal of "mother's intuition", but it really isn't conclusive enough to make decisions about child health (other than the mother's own children). And let's not forget that mothers don't all agree on everything -- so which mothers should be trusted on which topics? This is why you need objective trials (and I agree that the trial you linked above isn't good -- the need for trials isn't invalidated if the current trails are bad or inconclusive).


>a bias just means you have a preconceived view on a topic

Yes, but is it not also bias to leap to a conclusion someone is bias because they don't agree with the status quo?

> But ~40 mothers also isn't a large enough sample size.

I've spoken with many more than that over the past three decades, but I've yet to see a significantly larger sample size in any of the studies on sugar or Red 40.

>Being paid [..] is called corruption, not bias.

Of course it is, except when it's not disclosed. That is part of what the article linked here addresses. Some of those studies have been taken as being uncorrupted for decades now and that has very much influenced the current beliefs on the subject.

> I will -- there is absolutely no link

Well, I've heard too many stories about mom's taking their children to get vaccinated and describing the effects as "It's like the very next day or two their lights just went out".

I have no personal experience with this, but I won't dismiss that. There are so many variables that could affect this that it would be imprudent to do so, and those that sell vaccines are highly motivated to ignore those who've brought it up.

It's so easy to assume we know everything. It's human nature in fact to delude ourselves this way. Considering how much we do not know about how gut bugs interact with almost everything we are exposed to, that alone provides more than enough reason to avoid concrete statements like "there is absolutely no link" and doing so is most certainly proof of bias.

It's a huge leap to ignore those who witness these effects and again I can draw from my own personal experience when my first wife's doctors told me "there is absolutely no link between women having a child and psychosis". And that happened not just once, but twice.

All of her doctors, everyone of them, were arrogantly and insistently dead assed wrong and now we know they were all wrong beyond any doubt. How many moms do you think they all ignored before they finally saw the light?

It was 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries. An abortion can trigger it too.

So, if you preconceive those same odds could never apply to vaccines and autism because only 1 or 2 out of every 1,000 mom's say that was the cause you may well be wrong for a very long time even while a preventative treatment is staring you in the face.


> Yes, but is it not also bias to leap to a conclusion someone is bias because they don't agree with the status quo?

I don't think "tu quoque" is a civil way of having a discussion. I didn't use bias as a slur, I was trying to help you argue better (and I explained why you or the mothers you talked to might have a bias -- and it wasn't because you "didn't agree with the status quo"). You appear to be using it as a slur towards me (in a way, saying "tu quoque"), for no real reason.

> Well, I've heard too many stories about mom's taking their children to get vaccinated and describing the effects as "It's like the very next day or two their lights just went out".

And this is exactly the reason why studies are better than anecdotal evidence. There are countless studies by many independent sources that show beyond any reasonable doubt that vaccines are an unmitigated good (one of the greatest medical marvels in history, alongside penicillin or the understanding of germ theory). But that's apparently not sufficient because some mothers of autistic children think that it was vaccines that caused their child's condition.

You know what can really make your child's "lights go out"? Dying. That's what whooping cough, measles, rubella, retrovirus, polio, and any other number of diseases did to countless children before we started vaccinating them. I think that pretending that autism (which is incredibly likely to not be caused by vaccines) is much worse than death (which we _know_ can be a direct outcome of many serious childhood illnesses) is a quite unethical viewpoint.

> that alone provides more than enough reason to avoid concrete statements like "there is absolutely no link" and doing so is most certainly proof of bias.

Would you say that belief in evolution or climate change or gravity is a proof of bias? My view is based on the overwhelming scientific evidence, where studies were carried out in response to a bunch of baseless fearmongering that has without a doubt directly killed children.

You're right that we can't know anything, but entertaining an incredibly improbable outcome (that all of those studies were wrong) and allowing it to affect your life (and the life of your children) is just playing to the fearmongers. It's like saying that you can technically win the lottery -- you can technically win, but the likelihood is so low that you shouldn't base any of your life decisions on that fact.

If there was a study tomorrow that showed that there was a concrete link, and it was good science, then I would accept it and would happily eat crow. But the likelihood is so infinitesimally small that it's not worth entertaining the idea in a normal conversation.


I didn't even imply that one shouldn't vaccinate their children.

I really don't know how you took that from anything I've wrote, except that you read it with a very strong bias.

I focused on not dismissing moms who say vaccinations did affect their children.

>I don't think "tu quoque" is a civil way of having a discussion.

Actually, I was addressing the overarching approach to being stuck in a state of understanding that results in refusing to look for more knowledge.

You denying there is any potential for any link at all isn't really based on your personal experience with mother's who've claimed it was the cause. It's based on statistical data you are aware of, but that's all. You not atypical in believing that data is conclusive. That is the "status quo", is it not?

But statistical data is really only a snapshot of a fixed set of data points in time. In terms of human biology there is far more that we do not know than what we do know. The truth is the data we have right now on how the human organism functions isn't even close to complete, nor fully understood, and still quite dispersed and not easily accessible.

I'd like to think studies on the potential ill effects of vaccinating all children should be a priority and listening to mothers who've said their children experienced serious issues should be at the very top of that list of data collected and studied.

And again, to be perfectly clear, I still have not said or implied that one shouldn't vaccinate their children.


It's pretty cowardly to accuse someone of urging "mothers to not vaccinate" and then delete the accusation by editing your comments after they've pointed out they've not done that.

You could've stood up and apologized, but you didn't. You slunk in and hid what you said and slunk away instead.


caffeine is more likely the culprit


How long do we wait for "market forces" to magically correct under the information asymmetry of rich corporations vs the common person which inhibit the public from understanding the danger introduced in order to make more money?


The free market can only work if everybody had perfect information and no secrets. Otherwise whoever has more information can manipulate reality.


Perfect information and unlimited computing power.


I think this is a more important point that is always missed in free market debates. You need not only perfect information, but also unlimited computation power and skill to compute necessary information. If you can get a CSV file of global potato and onion producers with transportation cost, but you have no means of solving this TSP problem, you will not make an optimal decision.

In particular, relevant to this thread, if you have a magical CSV file created by an Oracle associating every food available in US with how "healthy" they are and how much calory they provide, in order to build a 2500 calory diet that maximizes health and minimizes cost, you need to solve a knapsack-like problem. In this environment market will necessarily be a little random not because we don't have enough information but because we don't have enough computational power.


This is generally the argument against command economies, in _favor_ of market economies. It's formally referred to as the Economic Calculation Problem.


I wasn't making a point against/in favor of free market nor was I suggesting this was a hidden factor I just unraveled. I just don't see this discussed in free market debates, here or in reddit but I think this is a very practical problem for some markets. I personally try to take as much rational decisions as possible and one of the limiting factors for me is knowing good enough algorithms to efficiently compute rational decisions. Of course, we don't have perfect information, so that's a problem too.

EDIT: I must also admit that I know absolutely nothing about economics. I'm a regular software engineer.


Don't forget infinite time.


Meaning the free market doesn't work without strict continual intervention.


Exactly. A truly free market is unstable and will be anarchy. That's not something the typical "free marketer" wants.


You're ascribing extremist anarcho-capitalist views to what you call the 'typical "free marketer"'.

This is false; the typical free market advocate understands there is a limited role for government intervention. Basic examples: Police, fire services, military, currency, lighthouses.


I think you have misread my comment. I think the typical free marketer wants that companies can do whatever they want while still protected by the state.


I think we need a new term. Let's call it the Free Enough Market.


The free market can work very well if various individuals are missing a lot of information. In fact, the free market is the only system known that works so well in situations where every actor is very information-poor. Our economy is far more complex than any person or organization can understand. The information, and decision-making, are distributed.

In contrast, socialism can only work if the central planners have perfect information and no secrets. That's why it hasn't ever worked - information can't be centralized like that; the economy is too complex. So it ends up depending on a central actor to manipulate reality (see China today or any other socialist economy ever and the blatant lies in their economic statistics).

The issue with sugary drinks isn't that people lack information. The information is written on the side of every soda can; it is nearly a perfect-information situation. The issue is that people are irrational in other ways (related to time preference and inability to moderate impulses or re-evaluate habits).


It's not a perfect information situation. Industry puts out an enourmous amount of misinformation and people who don't do a lot of research can easily be confused (which is the goal). I still remember how long the tobacco industry successfully fought the consensus that smoking is harmful.


It seems that your opinion is:

People drink soda unhealthily not because they've been tricked by Coca Cola misinformation campaigns into thinking that soda is healthy.

Your view is that people think soda is healthy.

To describe the idea is to refute it. Ask a few soda drinkers if they think soda is healthy.


> In fact, the free market is the only system known that works so well in situations where every actor is very information-poor.

cough


>Stop Blaming Yourself

I'm not sure if such advice is good. Of course, the industry should start reducing/removing added sugar from products. You can keep eating what you're eating, keep blaming the evil corporations and wait for ages until the industry starts changing.

Or, you know, you can take a bit of responsibility for own eating habits and get noticeably healthier in a matter of weeks. Adapt to the reality where most packaged products are full of sugary stuff and therefore should be avoided as if they are spoiled. Maybe buy less packaged products, and buy more fresh food. Maybe cook sometimes instead of watching TV. Maybe start paying more attention to ingredients and don't buy products which contents is more appropriate for a chemical lab rather than a kitchen. It doesn't take much and it definitely is not "an incredible burden" as the article states. Yes, it's a burden, but far from "incredible".

And no, you don't necessarily have to start going to the gym to become healthier. It would be a nice addition to your new lifestyle, but it's not strictly required.


Sugar industry mirrors the approach that the oil industry has taken. Both should be addressed aggressively by introducing real education, researching and developing worthwhile alternatives. Both have unprecedented costs to humanity.


My father in-law is in hospital right now with gallstones and various other infections due to this. He had severe stomach pain and went to the hospital.

Tomorrow he'll be transported to another hospital via helicopter and airplane for operation.

It's not too serious when treated but the doctors say it's due to high sugar intake.

Personally I prefer natural sugar over the artificial stuff but, as with everything else, moderation is key.


What do you mean by "artificial stuff"? Pretty much all sugar sold for human consumption comes from natural plant sources: corn, beets, sugar cane.


Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin etc


The crazy part is that a lot of people would go absolutely insane if their sugar was to be cut off all of a sudden.

That's the one thing we don't want to hear. And in doing so, pretend that everything is great. The same goes for canned and long shelf-life food.

If you eat a healthy diet then getting naturally occuring sugars is not a problem.

And I understand the argument that eating 'healthy' might not be possible for everyone. Especially someplace like US where organic food costs ten times more than anything else.


So, your argument is that on a healthy diet, you can eat whatever you want. Got it.

And the fallacy that organic food = healthy is absolutely mind boggling to me. Study after study has shown that there is minimal difference in the nutritional quality of "organic" vs "non-organic" foods. It doesn't matter, and also the perceived benefit to the environment is nil.

And whats wrong with canned and long shelf-life food? Are you against vegetables being kept for long periods of time without refrigeration and maintaining 99% of their nutritional content? Ditto for Jams and Honey which are both long shelf-life food due to their extreme abundance of "natural" sugar.


The funny thing is that I have no reason to talk out of my butt. I am just expressing my personal experience with food.

My idea of a healthy diet is fruit, seeds, nuts, and occasional grains / legumes. The 'Steve Jobs' diet if you will.

It's honestly surprising to see how much lighter and energetic you become once you drop meat and huge blocks (carbs) of crap that makes you feel like you ate something worthwhile.


Given Steve jobs prematurely died due to his diet, I feel like that wasn't a wise choice in anecdotes.

Funny thing is how much more energy and lighter I became when I only ate meat. So much for dropping meat.


Actually, Steve Jobs was following solely a fruitarian diet. So, maybe I was just testing your wits, huh?

And here I was thinking that I am the sensitive one. :)


In general organic food isn't healthier. Healthy foods like potatoes, rice, beans, apples, chicken, and canned vegetables are cheaply available almost everywhere.


Just curious what nutritional value beyond a large amount of carbohydrates do potatoes and rice have?


They're not the most per-calorie dense foods out there but they offer plenty of nutrients. https://www.quora.com/Are-boiled-potatoes-healthier-than-ste...

Nobody is saying make these the primary source of your calories (even though you can as a majority of the world gets by just fine with lots of rice and potatoes)


What’s wrong with canned food?


The plastic liners leach into acidic foods.


In a desire to eat healthier, I decided instead of eating candy as a snack, I would eat dried mangoes. It naturally contains fiber, Vitamin C and natural sugars.

When I go to the supermarket and look at the labels, I see most of the brands don't just have the mango's natural sugar, but add extra sugar as well. If I go that route, I might as well have a candy bar. Luckily, one brand I found does not add extra sugar.


If you can shop at Costco they have good prices on dried mango with no added sugar.


The article, while making copious allusions to damning research, is light on actual damning research and heavy on rhetoric. The linked website (http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu) is also full of references to studies that are suggestive but nothing conclusive.

What's really worrying is the constant refrain that they just "knew" something had to be wrong. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence in their research. They then keep following up with references to diabetes, as if diabetes is obviously a sugar consumption problem, but I understand that that's not the case (https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eat...).

All in all, with references to research that is weaker than they suggest, fearmongering rhetoric, and pushing a narrative of Big Sugar stifling honest, brave scientists, this article is indistinguishable to a layman (me) from an antivaxxer screed.

And honestly? The comments here are also indistinguishable from comments on an antivax website.


>They then keep following up with references to diabetes, as if diabetes is obviously a sugar consumption problem, but I understand that that's not the case

In good faith anyone talking about sugar consumption being the cause of diabeties is obviously talking about type 2. Your linked articles is muddying the waters and introducing type 1 highlighting people are born with type 1...no one thinks type 1 has anything to do with sugar consumption. That is elementary and bad faith discussion.

Type 2 is when the body no longer responds to insulin. What triggers insulin? Types of sugar not processed by the liver, which go into the blood and requirie the body to produce insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. With type 2 the body continues to produce insulin normally but the body no longer responds to the insulin...it’s all triggered by sugar.

To put it another way if you remove sugars requiring insulin production from the diet...100% of type 2 cases can be prevented. Only laymen argue this point as it’s not controversial...all thats needed is a single case of type 2 to disprove that, but none exist to date. Further, many cases of type 2 can actually be reversed through diet (ie avoid sugars that trigger insulin spikes) and lifestyle changes.

How about nonalcoholic fatty liver disease? Do you believe that is not caused by the other types of sugar (ie sugar processed in the liver)?


The link I included specifically says:

> With Type 2 diabetes, though we know sugar doesn’t directly cause Type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to get it if you are overweight. You gain weight when you take in more calories than your body needs, and sugary foods and drinks contain a lot of calories.

It's misleading to talk about sugar when the problem is obesity.

I don't have answers to your questions as I am not an expert on nutrition and it would be stupid to hold opinions on what I don't know. However, I don't have to be an expert on nutrition to note that the UCSF link is contradicting other domain experts (may or may not be damning) and is being intellectually dishonest (definitely damning).


>It's misleading to talk about sugar when the problem is obesity.

Really because plenty of skinny people have type 2 and plenty of obese people do not have type 2...but everyone who has type 2 has overconsumed sugar that is regulated in the blood by insulin and their bodies has stopped responding to insulin and most who have type 2 can reverse it by cutting out sugar consumption that requires insulin and making other lifestyle changes. No one is saying obesity isn’t linked to higher rates of type 2, but it’s not dispositive like type 2 and sugar consumption.


I don't know enough about diabetes to conclusively respond one way or another, but my understanding is that while being diabetic means that overconsuming sugar will be bad because your body can't regulate blood sugar, a non-diabetic person consuming copious amounts of sugar will not directly cause them to develop diabetes.

Re your first sentence, plenty of smokers don't have cancer while plenty of nonsmokers do. Everything in epidemiology is bound to be confounded to hell and back, which is why I'm going with the conclusions drawn by the British Diabetes Association and not the UCSF people that "just knew" something was wrong.


>but my understanding is that while being diabetic means that overconsuming sugar will be bad because your body can't regulate blood sugar, a non-diabetic person consuming copious amounts of sugar will not directly cause them to develop diabetes.

Again that’s the industry playing words games and being disingenuous.

There are sugars that are processed by the liver and then sugar that can’t be processed by the liver, which are released into the blood triggering an insulin response. That distinction in sugars like the type1/type2 distinction allows the industry to make broad claims to muddy the waters.

Sure if you only consumer sugars processed in the liver you won’t develop type 2 (of course you will likely have non alcoholic fatty liver disease). On the other hand the sugar that is released into the blood triggering insulin is the sugar that if removed from diet can prevent 100% of type 2 diabeties.

Your observation that people who don’t smoke still get cancer is obviously true, but on the flip people who do not consume sugars that cause insulin spikes will not develop type 2. So now Imagine if preventing cancer were as simple as saying if you stop consuming x you will not develop cancer, but a bunch of FUD saying x doesn’t cause cancer (that may be technically correct but the much larger issue is don’t consume x and you won’t develop y). I’m all for the progress of science and all for the continued study, in the meantime though if we want people (especially children) to stop getting y they should immediately stop consuming x, until science provides further insight allow the consumption of x without getting y.


It’s misleading to deflect from sugar onto obesity when consumption of sugary foods is a primary driver of obesity.


Sugar consumption is a driver of obesity. It's very unclear how much it contributes because epidemiology is ridiculously hard.

The British Diabetes Association specifically states that sugar does not directly cause diabetes. It's important (and honest) to emphasize the distinction because this is the opposite of the prevailing view.

Note that I'm not saying it's fine to eat lots of sugar. Sugar is definitely terrible for your teeth and that alone should be enough to stay away. I'm just saying that the article is being intellectually dishonest, and that's wrong even if the conclusion (eat less sugar) is completely correct.


It's an important distinction though. It's possible to consume sugary foods and not be obese. See twinkie diet.


But skinny people get diabeties also...and if you follow a Twinkie diet and manage to keep your calories consistent and not gain weight you will be priming your body for obesity.

All those twinkies have triggered insulin, a side effect of which increases cell size, with significant impact on fat cells. If your fat cells are enlarged from insulin, then you are primed to become obese because your cells are ready to store more than someone who hasn’t been wrecking their body with insulin spikes from twinkies all day every day.


The Twinkie diet and similar diets are straw men. The fact that it is possible to consume high quantities of sugar and not gain weight is not surprising. The reality is that consumption of high sugar foods (especially high sugar low calorie like many sugary drinks) prime you to eat more. There is a causative relationship between consuming sugary foods and consuming too much. This can be overcome with unnatural levels of attention, however this is a fringe edge case and generally not relevant to discussing the broad impact of sugar in western diets.


So here are some facts:

Type II diabetes used to be rare. Obesity was not uncommon however the incidence was stable.

Now both have become prevalent in the last 50 years.

You know what I do when faced with a poorly understood system that used to behave before a bunch of changes were made but now does not?

I revert back all the suspicious changes.


Yes, but you're cherrypicking changes based on what feels like should be relevant. A good deal has changed in the last 50 years, we can't (and don't want to) roll everything back, and it's unclear what should be rolled back.

Seriously, there's a reason epidemiology is a field smart people dedicate lifetimes to. This shit is difficult.

Anyway, my point wasn't that current levels of sugar consumption are fine, it's clearly not. I'm saying that the article is being dishonest which should be relevant even if their recommendations are good.


Why has everything got to be an "Evil Corporations" plot? I remember explicitly learning that sugar is bad for you from the food pyramid in elementary school and implicitly from being told I can't have candy well before. If some companies tried to convince people that sugar is healthy they wasted their money. Every few years we get a new food bogeyman, so seems like whatever science is out there is far from conclusive. I have a hard time believing that the link between sugar and all these diseases is so obvious that it was found and buried by what is essentially a marketing department of some food company, while completely eluding every independent researcher out there.




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