January 2010
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Bette Dowdell

I’ll let you in on a secret the Washington poobahs don’t want you to know: Congress caused the obesity epidemic. If there is, in fact, an epidemic. Poobahs tend toward overblown terms of speech, so let’s just say, if you’re fat, blame Congress.

Truth be told, you probably had a hand in what happened, but it’s so last century to accept responsibility for our own actions, so we’ll blame it on Congress.

They, of course, won’t accept responsibility. Why start a new trend? But the fact is, Congress is culpable when it comes to a lot of health issues, obesity being one of them. Diabetes being another. And heart disease, of course.

Here’s the deal: Back in the day, sugar farmers leaned on Congress to subsidize their efforts. Their argument probably said something about America needed their crops, to the point that chaos would ensue if farmers went out of business.

Weak argument or not, they got to the right people, and the good, old U. S. of A started subsidizing sugar farmers. They still do, last I heard.

As a consequence, America has sugar prices up to four times (prices fluctuate) the average world price.

And here’s the problem with that: Food companies have to compete globally. If their products contain expensive American sugar, profits skinny right down. Sometimes even to death, resulting in a loss.

But corn was cheap, so food companies switched to corn syrup. They even promoted it as a virtue. Well, no. Our bodies don’t like corn syrup so much. And thus the problem started.

But why settle for a problem when you can have disaster? Along comes the even cheaper high fructose corn syrup, and it does a number on our bodies like nobody’s business. It throws leptin, the hormone that balances the appetite, for a tizzy-and-a-half. Plus, it creates inflammation, the cause of a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, not to mention wrinkles and other signs of aging. And it results in insulin resistance, which leads to Type 2 diabetes.

A chart of the increase in obesity, diabetes and heart disease looks remarkably like a chart of the increase in high fructose corn syrup use.

But hark! A sort-of resolution cometh down the tracks. Congress came up with the dumb idea to use corn for fuel. To reduce our use of petroleum products, so they say.

Which leads us to another secret the poobahs prefer you don’t know. Ethanol, fuel from corn, can’t go through a pipeline because it eats the pipe, so it gets trucked hither and yon, using more petroleum in the trucking than if they just left the gas for our cars unadulterated–especially since we’d get better gas mileage if we didn’t have to dink around with ethanol, and that would reduce petroleum use.

But long story short, while the ethanol sacred cow starves people in poor nations by reducing their food supply, and damages our economy and environment, Congress likes the ethanol lobbyists, so it’s here to stay. And so’s the sugar subsidy. At least as long as Congress maintains their love affair with lobbyists.

Which gets us back to sugar versus high fructose corn syrup. With the price of corn shooting past the moon, sugar looks downright attractive to food companies. Slowly, slowly, sugar is replacing HFCS in many food products, and that’s really good news.

Now, sugar can’t be called a health food by any stretch, but, unlike HFCS, our bodies know how to handle it. It doesn’t blow out our leptin, so obesity becomes less of a problem. It has far less impact on insulin resistance, resulting in fewer cases of diabetes. And it causes a lot less inflammation, reducing the onset of disease and wrinkles.

You know, if it weren’t for Congress, we’d all be in a lot better shape. I’d count the ways, but my calculator only goes up to nine digits.

So, there you are, dragging your patooty through life while your doctor keeps insisting you’re fine. What’s that about? You know for a fact that you’re not fine, but what to do?. Bette Dowdell writes and talks about just what you’re going through. She tells you about all the health enemies in our world today–and you’ll be amazed–and what you need to do to help yourself–which isn’t complicated once somebody explains it. Subscribe to Bette’s free, weekly health e-zine at and get the information you need. Why drag through life when you don’t have to? Bette’s years of research got her out of the pits; now let her help you.

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