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Friday, January 17, 2014

The war on sugar

In Prime Minister's Questions this week David Cameron was challenged to back the 'War on Sugar' by giving up sugar for a day. Huffington Post report that Labour MP, Keith Vaz who has championed the cause since being diagnosed with diabetes asked him:

"Will you meet with a delegation of health experts to discuss this issue and can we enlist your support in the war on sugar by asking you to give up sugar and sugary drinks for one day this week?"

"I'm sure that would have the support of Mrs Cameron," the PM retorted.

Huffington Post say that Vaz's comments come on the back of startling obesity statistics:

Around half of all adults are considered "overweight" – and nearly a quarter obese – by body mass index.

Action on Sugar called the sweet stuff as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco, and have called on the food industry to cut 30 per cent of it from processed food, shaving 100 calories off a person's daily intake.

Cameron praised Vaz at PMQs for "speaking out on the issues of diabetes and obesity with such consistency, because they are major health concerns for our country.

"We are taking them very seriously. We are rolling out the NHS health check programme to identify all those between 40 and 74 at risk of diabetes.

"Childhood obesity rates are falling but there's more that needs to be done. I'm happy to facilitate discussions between you and [Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] to have the discussions you want.

"We take this issue very seriously. We think the Responsibility Deal has achieved great things but there is more to be done."

Just how big the problem is can be assessed by looking at the amount of sugar we consume each year, mostly through processed food. This is something the Independent focused on a year ago:

According to Dr Lustig, whose new book Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth about Sugar, it comes down to a change in diets in the 1970s; a change most of us probably didn't even notice. The Seventies saw the development of foods with manipulated low-fat contents. And low-fat food, according to Dr Lustig, is making us fat.

"When you remove fat from food, it tastes like cardboard, The food industry knows that. So when they took fat out, they had to add the carbohydrate in; and in particular fructose sugar," says Dr Lustig. So as the low-fat dogma took hold, we cut out the fat and started taking on vastly more fructose. In America fructose intake (mostly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup) has increased 100-fold since 1970.

In the UK, the quantity of stand-alone bags of sugar sold – stuff lingering in granny's baking cupboard – has decreased. Yet in the period from 1990 to 2000 consumption of sugar went up by around a third – and a significant quantity of that is sucrose, which is 50 per cent made up of fructose. This is what researchers mean when they refer to the rise of "invisible sugar".

The average person consumes 150 pounds of sugar each year, that is the equivalent of approximately seventy five one kilogram bags or 33 tablespoons each day. Now that is a frightening thought.
Like Labour MP, Keith Vaz I believe that we need to support the war on sugar.

High uncontrolled blood sugar crept up on me and got me for sure - happened when I moved to the USA for work. The change in pace, fast food including cans of coke (free at the law firm I worked at) eating poorly at lunch time, led to the invisible killer: uncontrolled diabetes 2. I slowly but surely became seriously ill and finally collapsed on the side of the road when I became ill and got out of my car on a very hot humid day - I should have stayed in the car, it had a/c.

I had developed a serious infection in my right foot (a gaping hole that would not heal) and blood clots in the my lower right leg. I nearly died.

It took a while to get my blood glucose level under control (my eyesight changed too, one's eye lens also get too much glucose and I had way too much of it in my blood - so the refractive index of my eye lenses changed - my short sight became less severe as my blood glucose dropped).

Previously I couldn't sleep more than 1.5 hours at a time, I kept waking up to go to the bathroom. I was drinking a lot of water but didn't notice because I drank a lot of tea. Also, to keep myself alert at the office I had started buying/drinking energy drinks - BIG MISTAKE.

Bottom line: I had to have part of my right foot removed including my right big toe.

For a time I could not drive, but finally my brain got used to putting my right foot correctly onto the pedals - my right foot would press down on a pedal but I was pressing the pedal with part of my shoe/right foot that was now missing my right toe.

I have got used to it now, I press the pedals with my right foot biased to the right side of my right foot. This might sound like a minor issue, but it took a long time to get used to showering with part of my right foot missing. For whatever reason I found it very hard - seeing my right foot like that was difficult. Down right shocking.

The blood clot issue has not been fully resolved, but at least my lower right leg is not bulging like it did prior to emergency administration of heparin and a long treatment with Warfarin (the stuff that was used in rat poison to make rat brains bleed).

I could not tolerate 'the tablets' to treat diabetes 2, they made me ill, so I have to inject with insulin twice a day and monitor my blood glucose.

It took a while to get used to sticking myself, but that was minor compared to having part of my right foot cut off.

I still think the safest thing would have been to have my lower right leg cut off to render the blood clot moot. I could survive without my lower right leg whereas if the clot spread...

I can only rely the stress this caused my Welsh mother - I brought her to the USA to look after her. I'm all she's got here in the USA; I never thought to much about that, but nearly dying got me very concerned for her. What would she do here if I had died or worst, had a massive stroke caused by the blood clot spreading?

There is a lot of truth in that saying, "Parents should not outlive their children" - particularly if roles reverse and the child, now an adult, is looking after a sick parent.

We need to move back to the UK so she can be near friends and a support system she can better relate too.

But I can't work in a bakery again. I couldn't cope with the physical work load. I was expert in writing code to run number crunching algorithms on supercomputers, but not much call for that in Wales. Wales really is backward tech wise despite all the rhetoric emanating from the mouths of politicians. Really fundamentally backward.
^please excuse typographical errors ... also, inter alia, 'rely' should read "relay" and at least one "to" should read "too". I'm on a tight deadline. It's a 7 day work week here in all but name, but at least I have stopped eating candy bars and drinking energy drinks. My blood glucose level thanks me, but still have to inject/stick myself with insulin. "I never thought it could happen this way to me", but truth is: we are not indestructible and we need to take seriously the invisible (added sugar) issue in our food stuffs. Keith Vaz is right, THIS IS A SERIOUS ISSUE. Please review what you eat because you really are "What you eat".
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