Polimicks

Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Well, well, well… More Fat Research

I have news of more studies on fat and weight loss.

First we have this study (http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/), which demonstrates that consumption of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) leads to more weight gain than a comparable intake of actual sugar. The study also demonstrates that rats fed a diet that includes HFCS not only become obese, but have other symptoms usually attributed to just being fat in general, metabolic disorders, higher rates of triglycerides, and more visceral fat, the fat most recently blamed for diabetes. Rats fed a diet of the same amount of calories, without HFCS do not have those problems, nor do they get obese.

Now, I know a lot of you will just start bleating, “Well, just stop eating HFCS!”

You really don’t know how difficult that is, do you? Once my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, we made a concerted effort to weed HFCS out of our diet.* You would not believe the things it’s in: ketchup, bread, fruit juice, many yogurts, most packaged foods, soup… I could go on and on. If someone lives in a food desert or does not have the time to prepare meals from scratch, like we do now, they’re fucked. You can’t get away from the stuff. I found it listed in the ingredients of bread I bought at our hippie, organic grocery store.

It has taken a LOT of effort on our part to get HFCS out of our diet, and it’s expensive. The stuff without HFCS just plain costs more. It takes time, you HAVE to read labels, as the FDA (under Bush, btw) neutered the power of “organic” claims.

Ok, next study, found on Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5500912/latest-in-unrealistic-exercise-recommendations-a-full-hour-every-day Ok, US federal guidelines are athat peole get 150 minutes of exercise a week for health benefits. That works out to a little over 20 minutes a day. The study cited by Jezebel says that in order to not gain weight, people (women) should work out at least an hour a day. Ok, the thing that Jezebel, and I, would like to point out, is that hour a day is not to LOSE weight, but just to not gain any.

Further articles on the study reveal that the study says that the hour a day of exercise to not gain weight only worked on women who had a BMI of less than 25 to begin with. It didn’t do shit for the women with higher BMIs: http://www.livescience.com/health/weight-gain-exercise-overweight-100324.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Livesciencecom+(LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed)

This backs up another study (http://www.livescience.com/health/090106-exercise-obesity.html) which points out that fat women generally have exercise levels the same as thinner women. That article points it all at diet, which may be true considering the women in Chicago probably have diets loaded with HFCS, by virtue of being in this country and in a city notorious for food deserts. BUT it also does not rule out genetics, because yes, all the women in the study are of “African” descent (African American women in Chicago, Nigerian women in Nigeria), but they do not mention any attempts to make sure that the African American women are actually of Nigerian descent. Africa’s a big place, cupcake, and there are a LOT of different genetic pools all over that great big continent.

Unfortunately, the LiveScience folks didn’t give me enough info to look up the actual study, although maybe when I have more time to wade through results, I might give it a shot.

So, yeah, as the government funds more research into obesity, and relies less on research funded by the diet industrial complex, we’re finding more and more evidence that the “Thin is Healthy” and “Calories in/Calories out” party lines are bullshit.

*I think it’s worth noting that while, when we cut HCFS, he lost 45 lbs (no longer drinking a six pack of Coke a day will do that), I lost nothing. For starters, because I don’t drink pop as a rule, anyway, and so couldn’t cut it. Though we do eat pretty much the exact same stuff.

ETA: Actual HCFS study http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T0N-4YGHGM1-1&_user=582538&_coverDate=02%2F26%2F2010&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000029718&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=582538&md5=a4aa1ceb69a7b128aac56f9668239dbd

And a refutation of said study: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/03/does-high-fructose-corn-syrup-make-you-fatter.ars Whose conclusion seems to be, “Well, they’re probably right, but sloppy.”

ETA 2: Ok, since I will bow to those with superior knowledge of the scientific process (I’m a History major, with a Marxist bent, yo) that the aforementioned study is flawed. HOWEVER, this does not mean that the premise that HFCS is bad is wrong. If you go to the study bibiliography you will find other less flawed research that pre-dated this study, and inspired it.

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37 comments on “Well, well, well… More Fat Research

  1. garpu
    March 24, 2010

    ONe cool thing about amazon fresh is that you can check a box and have it automatically exclude HFCS. Trader Joe’s seems to be affordable (over Whole Paycheck) and be relatively free of it, too.

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    • sirriamnis
      March 24, 2010

      Ooooo!!! More reasons to shop Amazon Fresh.

      Like

      • garpu
        March 24, 2010

        I love them. They’ve kept me from starving during crunch mode. Prices are probably better elsewhere on some things, but for me it’s worth paying a bit extra than to try to lug six bags of crap back on a bus. (Because if I want to do decent grocery shopping, I have to go to either QFC in the U Village or Trader Joe’s.)
        Trader Joes I get my coffee and luna bars at, though, because I can’t beat their prices. (And they have a better selection of fair trade coffees.)

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    • xythen
      March 24, 2010

      Really? Wow, that is awesome!

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      • garpu
        March 24, 2010

        Gluten free and vegan, too, I think. And a few others.

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  2. benlehman
    March 24, 2010

    I just had an interesting conversation with Ron about this: he just taught a senior seminar on the social and political dimensions of biology. One of the students did a close reading of a very technical paper about the process of fat burning. I was glad that this was recognized as an area where politics is affecting scientific research.
    We basically shared a moment of rage on the topic.

    Like

    • sirriamnis
      March 24, 2010

      I would be very interested in reading, if not the student’s paper, then the paper they read for their assignment.

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  3. staxxy
    March 24, 2010

    this is another reason why I love my Milk and Honey bread (by the bakery that does Poulsbo bread), no HFCS… in any of their breads, I think.
    But yeah, avoiding HFCS is a major pain in the ass and even when you find brands you like, you must stay vigilant as they sometimes starting adding it to their products.
    Imagine how much more real food there could be if corn growers weren’t sending all their produce off to become HFCS.

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    • polimicks
      March 24, 2010

      Or if we actually paid them to grow something the human body can digest healthfully.

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      • staxxy
        March 24, 2010

        exactly. there are plenty of crops they could be growing instead of corn too.

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      • tregare
        March 24, 2010

        or use the corn as god(dess) intended… Booze 🙂

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      • mojrim
        March 24, 2010

        Corn subsidies are the driving force behind so many bad food choices in this country. HFCS and corn fed cattle are major contributors to weight and correlated health problems. One interesting note I ran accross in the ethanol debate was the idea that we can’t grow enough corn for fuel given existing consumption, which was taken as a given. I would like to know how much could be freed up for ethanol conversion if we stopped using it for food additives and cattle feed.

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      • polimicks
        March 24, 2010

        Exactly.

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    • spitphyre
      March 24, 2010

      Fraz bread FTW!

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      • staxxy
        March 24, 2010

        yes!! Franz!! We love them!

        Like

  4. tregare
    March 24, 2010

    Oh, and a DUH! moment for people out there, there have been people (some reseachers and drs included) who have pointed to the move from regular sugar (cane/beet) to HFCS for years as the tipping foint for what they are now calling the obesity epidemic.

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  5. acrimonyastraea
    March 24, 2010

    If you need an hour of exercise a day or a severe calorie reduction just to maintain your current weight over many years, how can it be considered “normal” weight?

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    • polimicks
      March 24, 2010

      DING! DING! DING! DING!
      We have a win-nar!!!!
      Totally.

      Like

      • mojrim
        March 24, 2010

        Well, not really…
        See, we’re not designed to live the way we currently do. We evolved working our asses off, either as hunters or gatherers, with barely enough to eat each day. We’ve gone past a survival economy, an industrial economy, and a luxury economy. We’re in a convenience economy, and it’s killing us.

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      • kaligrrrl
        March 25, 2010

        actually, most hunter/gatherer societies only need to work about 20 hours a week to feed themselves. there’s a lot more leisure time in those cultures.

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      • acrimonyastraea
        March 25, 2010

        It’s “killing us”? Really? We have longer life spans now than at any time in the history of humanity. How is it exactly that our current lifestyles are killing us?

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      • mojrim
        March 25, 2010

        1.) Yes, only 20 hrs a week, but that kind of work is what modern people call exercise. Three hours a day of climbing trees, digging roots, low crawling up to herds, and running down game. Plenty of exercise.
        2.) Lots of actual leisure time, which modern people have little of, and which we often spend worrying about our next day of boring, stressful, chair-bound, work.
        3.) Historically, human life-spans have been correlated to wealth more than technology. Access to better food (e.g. meat, tubers, and fruit), leisure time, enjoyable work; these are facets of wealth in civilization, something H/G people enjoyed naturally.
        4.) The conversion from H/G to agro society actually caused an overall decline in health and stature for the 99% of the population that was doing the farming and associated work. This was the result of food substitutions, diets mainly composed of wheat or rice, which people really aren’t supposed to be eating. It has only been in the past half-century, in the west, that appropriate diets have become available to the majority of the population, and our physical stature has returned to that of H/G peoples.
        5.) The real advancements in in human lifespan are entirely the result of public health systems: waste removal, clean water, and disease control. To an H/G tribe, most of these issues never come into play, especially communicable diseases, which develop in proximity to domesticated animals.
        Obesity is a civilized disease. Only we have the necessary combination of sedentary lifestyle and high-calorie/low-value foods to make it happen.

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      • polimicks
        March 25, 2010

        Actually, you’re wrong on the obesity thing.
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6904640.stm – For a start. Also, I beleive that some South Pacific Island populations tended more toward fat even before out influence.

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      • mojrim
        March 26, 2010

        Traditionally, societies have idolized fat storage as a sign of wealth and ability to withstand famine. However, it has traditionally been a privelege of society’s wealthier elements to store fat. Modern western civilization makes it possible, perhaps mandatory, for everyone. The fact that rich people in Africa pay for it only proves my point: it is valued there because it is expensive and rare.
        It is still under debate weather PI populations have a greater tendency to store fat or simply greater access than the rest of the third world. Anyone who has been to Hawaii will confirm their desire to do so.

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  6. rocza
    March 24, 2010

    Actually, the Princeton study is pretty flawed. HFCS is evil, but this study? Really doesn’t show it. Marion Nestle takes it down in her blog. (And if she’s siding with the CRA, you know the study has to be bad.) Ars Technica has a pretty good explanation of why it’s bad science, too, but I don’t have that link handy.
    I’m all for research showing HFCS is evil – but it needs to be scientifically sound research. Anything less just opens the door for valid scientific criticism that weakens the overall anti-HFCS position.

    Like

    • talheres
      March 24, 2010

      The study might be flawed, but Nestle has been an apologist for HFCS for years, in fact the corn industry even quoted her for PR on at least one of their websites. I have a pdf of it somewhere, but I forgot the name of the file.

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      • rocza
        March 24, 2010

        I’m not sure I’d call her an apologist. I would call her a realist. HFCS is chemically constructed glucose and fructose, almost equally balanced and quite similar to honey – Precision Nutrition’s feed has a very educational breakdown not only of the ‘ose construction of various sweeteners, but also their glycemic index and load (of which table sugar is actually the same as HFCS, and honey is only moderately better for GI and worse for GL).
        In a two-year old Q&A for SF Gate, Dr. Nestle talks about the metabolic differences and similarities between HFCS and other carbohydrate-based sweeteners. Sucrose is 50% fructose/50% glucose, while HFCS is 55% fructose. The body breaks this down pretty quickly, tho, and sees little difference between HFCS and sucrose. But as she notes, the issue is not the chemical composition, but the fact that it’s in everything.
        The fact that she doesn’t go on about HFCS being of the devil (because really, it’s not when viewed in a vacuum, compared to other carb-based sweeteners) does mean that she can be quoted by CRA and others. But as she makes abundantly clear in her books and blogs, she is not in support of the groups, nor is she an apologist for HFCS. She is an advocate for moderation, for healthy eating, and for removing HFCS from it’s prevalence in our diet.

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      • talheres
        March 24, 2010

        She is not a realist
        I’ve read those pieces of work, she knows little, or at least demonstrates little knowledge about physiology much less how the human body body metabolizes these things, and the importance that even a small chemical difference can make on the human body.
        But as she makes abundantly clear in her books and blogs, she is not in support of the groups
        Words should not be confused with deeds.
        She is an advocate for moderation,
        Her solution for the HFCS-just eat less of it. Time and time again. Even when it’s still difficult to find food items without it. It’s a very poor argument.
        for healthy eating,
        I disagree about that, especially about her stance on calories. But that’s a big rant for another time.
        and for removing HFCS from it’s prevalence in our diet.
        Really? I’ve read her blog for quite awhile, downplaying the danger of that chemical isn’t the same as advocating for its removal.

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      • rocza
        March 24, 2010

        Re: She is not a realist

        Let’s agree that HFCS has an enormous public relations problem and is widely misunderstood. Biochemically, it is about the same as table sugar (both have about the same amount of fructose and calories), but it is in everything and Americans eat a lot of it—nearly 60 pounds per capita in 2006, just a bit less than pounds of table sugar. HFCS is not a poison, but eating less of any kind of sugar is a good idea these days and anything that promotes eating more is not.

        From one of the blogs (for the book What to Eat). In the link I provided. And, in the other links, is similar information on how the issue is the fact that it’s everywhere and difficult if not impossible to avoid, and how the problem is a regulation one – no one is saying that the companies have to stop, so they won’t.
        For having read the works, you sure don’t seem familiar with what they say.
        You dislike her. Fine. If you want to challenge her knowledge or authority on her topic, feel free to write a peer-reviewed article taking down her stuff. But right now, this is going around in circles that will go nowhere quickly – you’re saying “nuh uh she’s bad TRUST ME.” Well, sorry – I don’t know you. I do know her, I do know the work she cites, as well as the peers and professors. There’s really nothing to talk about when one person says “see examples A B and C” and someone else says “no.”
        (Sorry for the edited post. One of the monsters took to walking across the keyboard at the wrong moment.)

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  7. talheres
    March 24, 2010

    Speaking of HFCS
    http://delicious.com/search?p=hfcs&chk=&context=userposts|thesilvergun&fr=del_icio_us&lc=1
    A collection of links I’ve made with my new Del account lately. It isn’t perfect, and unfortunately I still have yet to finish w/Gary Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories, particularly the part where he discusses HFCS and fructose (it’s also been awhile since I’ve been reading it…), but it’s what I have for now, and not exactly what you’d call looking good for that ingredient. I’ll probably have more stuff later when I get back to that book.

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  8. spitphyre
    March 24, 2010

    I’ve been avoiding HFCS for a few years now and I have noticed that in the past two a lot products have started to replace it (IE Wheat Thins which are my favorite cheapo cracker replaced HFCS with sugar. Miracle Whip is using sugar now and ketchup brands are starting to make the switch) I know it’s a pain in the ass but it IS getting easier at least…

    Like

    • polimicks
      March 24, 2010

      Thankfully. You should have heard the weeping and wailing when my midwestern ass realized it was in Miracle Whip. Then the rationalizing started: “Well, if that’s the ONLY thing I eat it in, that’s not so bad, right?”

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      • spitphyre
        March 24, 2010

        Then the rationalizing started: “Well, if that’s the ONLY thing I eat it in, that’s not so bad, right?”
        That sounds like me! Then I started being able to TASTE the difference and it made things made with it taste ucky.

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      • polimicks
        March 24, 2010

        Yeah. We picked up some cheap honey, which is frequently cut with HFCS, I could definitely taste the difference. Wound up tossing it.

        Like

  9. kurosau
    March 25, 2010

    Good Calories, Bad Calories. I’m fairly certain you’ve already heard it before, but it goes into great detail about the problems with nutrition and how nutrition science has been perceived and abused over the last several decades, and elaborates to great effect on how much of a problem stuff like HFCS is.
    The thing that interested me most about the book is the fact that it lays out a bunch of science done on nutrition, which paints some really clear pictures. And that all of that science has since been totally ignored because of the political push to turn everything into a ‘you’re not exercising enough’ or ‘you’re eating too much fat’ argument.

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  10. hunnythistle
    March 25, 2010

    American food companies use HFCS because it is dirt cheap — thanks to various corn subsidies, as well as being built on the unsustainable reliance of inputs like fertilizers & pesticides based on petroleum products.
    While I have been adjusting my diet to eat more locally, there are a whole lot of foods that I buy imported from France, Germany, and other foreign countries (condiments, mostly like mustard & horseradish) precisely because they do not use HFCS. Also, the level of sugar is much, much lower in many foreign products.
    While this stuff costs more than the cheap grocery stuff, at the places I shop it’s often less than gourmet stuff from Whole Foods.
    I’m on the fence about how bad HFCS is metaboliclly — the research is not conclusive. But the quantity in the American diet, and quantity of all sugar, is a huge problem. The industrialized production of HFCS is absolutely atrocious from an environmental standpoint, and really unsustainable. Actually, it’s our whole agribusiness production system that’s problematic, of which production of HFCS is a part.
    I’m also ambivalent about ethanol production. I want to encourage the development and use of alternative fuels. But corn is not the best source for producing ethanol. The Brazilians use modified sugar cane to much better effect. Also, our current corn production requires a whole lot of inputs — fertilizers, pesticides, machine maintenance & fuel, as well as transportation costs – that are ultimately derived from non-renewable petroleum. It’s really unclear if we will gain a net energy benefit from growing corn to replace gasoline. First, we have to grow the corn sustainably, then we can determine if it still makes sense to produce fuel from those crops. Right now, it’s all hypothetical models.
    Also, on exercise — yes, we really do need to exercise more. That doesn’t mean just going to the gym. When I travel to Europe, I eat richer foods, but always lose weight, because I’m walking everywhere. There are a whole lot of other factors involved, of course, in comparing different society’s health levels, but the general lack of movement in American culture is a problem. I know people don’t want to, I know it’s inconvenient, and time consuming, and I know that it seems overwhelming to get that movement in, but our bodies really need more movement, more walking, more doing, than a lot of us do. I’m not talking about working out at the gym, or even high intensity stuff — just little things everyday. This is something I’m trying to incorporate in my lifestyle, with varying degrees of success.

    Like

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