Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Low-Fat Dogma

The food industry had its eyes on the creation of a new genre of food, something they knew the public would embrace with huge enthusiasm, believing it to be better for their health – "low fat". It promised an immense business opportunity forged from the potential disaster of heart disease. But, says Lustig, there was a problem. "When you take the fat out of a recipe, food tastes like cardboard, and you need to replace it with something – that something being sugar."

Overnight, new products arrived on the shelves that seemed too good to be true. Low-fat yoghurts, spreads, even desserts and biscuits. All with the fat taken out, and replaced with sugar. By the mid-80s, health experts were noticing that people were getting fatter and no one could explain why. In 1966 the proportion of people with a BMI of over 30 (classified as obese) was just 1.2% for men and 1.8% for women. By 1989 the figures had risen to 10.6% for men and 14.0% for women. And no one was joining the dots between High Fructose Corn Syrup and fat.

Moreover, there was something else going on. The more sugar we ate, the more we wanted, and the hungrier we became. At New York University, Professor Anthony Sclafani, a nutritionist studying appetite and weight gain, noticed something strange about his lab rats. When they ate rat food, they put on weight normally. But when they ate processed food from a supermarket, they ballooned in a matter of days. Their appetite for sugary foods was insatiable: they just carried on eating. Other studies have found that sugar may even coat semen and result in obese men becoming less fertile.
The Guardian: Why Our Food Is Making Us Fat

1 comment:

nizhal yoddha said...

good one. there's a new Farm Bill in the works. it's the Farm Bills that have (along with poor policies and subsidies you can't stop) that have created the diabetes epidemic in the US along with the obesity epidemic. michael pollan has some very acute observations to make on all this.