The Front Lines of the Sugar war
Can you believe that William Dufty’s landmark book, Sugar Blues, became a best-seller in 1975? Since 1996, my books have sold more than a million copies, each one describing the metabolic disaster that sugar represents. And if the science is not compelling enough, I try to stimulate outrage by pointing out how sugar not only destroys heath; it has destroyed entire continents. From 1500 to1865, it is estimated that more than 10 million Africans were enslaved to work on Caribbean and American plantations to supply the insatiable demand for sugar, cocoa and coffee.
Last year, the movie, Fed Up was released, and while I do not agree that sugar is the primary cause of obesity, it certainly is the primary cause of diabesity.
Another powerful documentary,That Sugar Film, is being released this month. See the trailer here:
And all of this appears to be working. Sugar consumption in the US is declining, primarily due to decreased consumption of soft drinks. But before you yell halleluiah, let me burst your bubble. Because when Americans wise up and demand change, the purveyors of poison simply export their toxins overseas. It happened with cigarettes, pesticides, and now sugar.
A TIME magazine report entitled, No Answers in Sight for India’s Diabetes Crisis, describes the astronomic rise in diabetes and diabetes-related kidney disease.
“India now has 62.4 million diabetics — a 65% leap from 2004. It is also estimated that an additional 77.2 million Indians are prediabetic and that by 2030, 100 million Indians could suffer from the disease.”
In a country with historically low incidence of diabetes, this is truly astonishing. And the cause of this tragedy is staring us right in the face. You see, in addition to biomedical journals, I read a number of trade magazines in order to keep up with the nutrition industry. And often, I find the industry news to be simply shocking for its myopic view of the world. As far as industry is concerned, a dollar is a dollar. Where it comes from doesn’t matter, nor do the consequences of the activity that generated that money. So I’d like to bring this to your attention. An article in this week’s Food Navigator, entitled, Analysts Predict Lightning Growth For Indian Confectionary Market, tells us that India’s candy consumption is skyrocketing and will experience a 75% increase by 2018. Wow.
Now, if you want to cash in on this market, where should you focus your advertising? Well, a spokesman for the candy industry provides some helpful hints, noting that in India, kids of nine years and younger accounted for almost one quarter of sugar confectionery consumption in 2013. He states, as amatter of fact that:
“Consumers in this age group have a preference for sweet tasting products, which will be further enhanced as they develop their taste and preferences for certain brands and products.”
On my last Serve First /Vitamin Angels trip to Honduras, we set up medical services in impoverished towns. These remote areas are often without a reliable source of pure water. Food insecurity is the norm. Yet everywhere I looked, there were signs for Coke and Pepsi. And when we arrived at one schoolyard, the ground was littered with candy and snack food wrappers. Perplexed, I walked around the corner to find this kiosk, “donated” to the school by Pepsi.
What to do. In India, there is a good chance at turning the tide. The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), unlike similar organizations in the US, has not been infiltrated by Coke, Pepsi and Frito-Lay. In fact, Bill and Melinda Gates are the largest contributors, at more than $15 million. Let’s show our support by urging them to include sugar awareness as a critical part of nutrition education. Here’s the link:
And Honduras, where the people do not have computers and smart phones? I’m open to suggestions.