General Information

The Evolution And Benefits Of Caffeine

Posted by -- September 2, 2016

 pablo (5)

The Health Benefits of Caffeine

Coffee drinkers around the world savor their daily ‘bitter brew’––but are there any grounds for concern regarding caffeine’s effects on the heart? On the contrary, the case for the health benefits of caffeine in the diet continues to grow. Also, there is evidence that it can ease artery-damaging inflammation and may help the body regulate blood sugar.
Doctor Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health stated that the evidence of the benefits of caffeine consumption is more convincing now than it was five years ago, especially in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and the reduction of the risk of heart disease and stroke risk.
In an interesting note,  people who consume caffeine from other sources, such as sodas and energy drinks, do not see any of the cardiovascular benefits.

Making the caffeine-brain connection

The reason that we get a quick surge of energy after consuming our morning coffee has to do with the way caffeine affects the brain. Not only is caffeine a brain stimulant, but it also blocks receptors for a chemical called adenosine, which prevents the release of excitatory brain chemicals. Without adenosine, the brain-sparking chemicals flow more freely, providing a surge of energy and potentially improving mental performance and slowing age-related mental decline.
A Journal of Nutrition study showed that people who consumed more caffeine scored better on test results showing higher mental cognition, verbal memory, and attention.
Other previous studies have shown improved long-term memory performance and thinking ability in regular caffeine consumers.

 coffee_tree leaves beans

Some Essential Facts About Caffeine

Most of us have not considered the health benefits of caffeine; the stimulant found in coffee, tea, and many soft drinks and energy beverages.
Let’s consider these essentials facts you should know about caffeine:
Caffeine May Lower Skin Cancer Risk – In a study by The American Foundation for Cancer Research, they discovered that Increased Caffeine Intake Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin. Also, two 2015 studies, one published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and another by Epidemiology.  Researchers in these studies linked higher caffeine intake to a lowered risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Caffeine Can Help Control Pain – In 2015, researchers of four randomized, double-blind studies by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that a combination of a single dose of 200 mg of ibuprofen and adding 100 mg of caffeine was substantially more effective than a placebo to provide migraine pain relief and postoperative over six hours.
While that exact ibuprofen/caffeine combination is not commonly available in an over the counter product, a close approximation of that combination is achieved by taking 200 mg of ibuprofen along with a caffeine supplement, such as the natural caffeine product by Punchd Energy.
Caffeine May Improve Memory – consumption of caffeine is connected to better memory and improved brain function such as planning, organizing, and time management. A study published July 2015 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that in healthy older adults––with an average age 74––any amount of regular caffeine consumption is beneficial, and other studies have suggested caffeine might help with the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Caffeine comparison

Caffeine comparison courtesy of Punch’d Energy

Not all caffeine is the same––and ‘less is more’ with energy drinks

Some energy ‘shot-type’ beverages contain as much as 700 mg of caffeine per ounce of liquid — or over seven times the amount of caffeine in a typical cup of brewed coffee. Many medical professionals believe that a healthy adult can safely consume up to 400 mg a day, but they don’t recommend them for people 18 or under.  So be careful where you get your caffeine, and what is hidden in the can or bottle when you are only looking for energy, not articial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.

Screenshot 2016-09-02 15.41.54

The Evolution of Energy

A relatively new entry into the market is Punch’d Energy.  With all natural ingredients, this maker of ‘Caffeine Gummies’ seems to be at the forefront of what they call, ‘The evolution of energy’.  The simple science behind these chewable power Bears is that the caffeine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream as you chew it. A faster way to recieve the benefits from caffeine, without the harmful side affects that coffee and other caffeine drinks can have on your stomach.

Each ‘gummie’ contains 10mg of caffeine, and one bag contains 8 of the chewable sources of energy. You can really take these in doses as needed for maintaning energy without the highs of energy shots, or the crashes from so-called energy drinks.

Another benefit is the all natural ingredients — caffeine derived from Arabica coffee beans, real fruit flavors and juices, and the highest quality gelatin made in the U.S.A.  If you want to try them for yourselves, they have extended a special offer for Food Identity Theft readers – visit their store here and use PROMO code FITGUMMIES16 for your limited time discount – and us what you think when you’ve tried them!

Please like and share our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and tell your friends to visit us here.

Children’s Obesity Study – Fructose vs Starch – Almost got it right….

Posted by -- November 6, 2015

fructose vs starch

by: Jonathan Wright

November 6, 2015

Researchers from UCSF and Touro University recently published a study on the effects of restricting the daily intake of “fructose” in the diets of 43 children at the Obesity clinic at UCSF, replacing it with starches. The question was to determine whether sweeteners (fructose/sugar) or calories (Starches) were truly the problem when it came to obesity and diabetes. “We replaced virtually every aspect of their metabolic syndrome,” said Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, San Francisco and lead author of the study.

Dr Lustig currently maintains that both sugar and HFCS are processed by the body in the same way and therefore uses the terms interchangeably. The problem with that is it goes against his sworn affidavit to the United States District Court Western District of New York dated September 2013 where he clearly states: “Sucrose (Sugar) and HFCS have different metabolic effects including that the fructose content of HFCS-55, HFCS 65, HFCS 90 and Crystalline Fructose is higher than that in sucrose which is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose” (Citizens for Health has petitioned the FDA to change the HFCS labeling system so that it identifies the fructose level of the HFCS i.e. – HFCS 55 contains 55% fructose, HFCS 65 contains 65% fructose, etc.)

Dr. Lustig makes two points about the fundamental difference between sucrose (sugar) and HFCS in his court affidavit. One, the fructose in sugar is bound differently than the fructose in HFCS. Two, the amounts of fructose in HFCS significantly exceed the amounts of fructose in sugar. These differences make all the difference in the world. This means, he states in his affidavit, “…fructose from HFCS is metabolized differently from sugar (sucrose) and because the percentage of fructose in some foods containing HFCS have been shown in peer reviewed studies to exceed 65%, HFCS is clearly a significant factor in increased dietary food and energy (caloric) intake in the population.”

We are totally with Dr. Lustig when he laments the drinking of caloric sodas -95% of which are sweetened with HFCS- and which Dr Lustig also calls out in his affidavit, “Coca Cola, Sprite and Pepsi contained on average 64-65% fructose.” In this recent study Dr Lustig and his team found that reducing the intake of sweeteners from 28% to 10% of the children’s diets, while still on a heavily processed diet, lead to a reduction in insulin levels within 10 days. This is not exactly news to Dr Lustig, if we refer back to the affidavit where Dr Lustig states “Since fructose is metabolized differently than glucose it can and does lead to insulin resistance.…. HFCS bypasses the insulin-driven satiety system, suppressing ‘the degree of satiety’ that would normally result from a meal of glucose or sucrose.” HFCS, unlike glucose or sucrose (sugar) he says, leads to overeating. “

Dr Lustig tries to make the case that since the insulin levels dropped and the cholesterol and lipid levels improved then ‘sugar’ must be the problem. Yet referring back to the affidavit he makes a very clear statement, “Fructose is a major cause of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.” The primary fructose he is referencing, based on the report of his study, is fructose from HFCS. That is also true of the American diet.

We support and urge the removal of HFCS from manufactured food products, including sodas, as does Dr. Lustig. We also urge the use of sucrose in moderation. We think the distinction between fructose in HFCS and in sucrose is important for consumers to make sound decision which will fulfill Dr. Lustig’s agenda to cut down disease traced to fructose. Consumers also need to know that, while sugar consumption per capita in 2009 equaled that in 1909, HFCS consumption has skyrocketed during the past thirty years the same period of time that diabetes and obesity have exploded into national epidemics. There is no place for HFCS in the diet. There is a place for sweetness. Even the children in Dr. Lustig’s study got 10% percent of their calories from “sugar”. Unfortunately we do not know, when reporting this fact, whether Dr. Lustig was talking about sucrose or HFCS.

What’s really in a Big Mac…The Basics

Posted by -- October 29, 2015

Big Mac HFCS

By Jonathan Wright  

October 29, 2015 

I grew up memorizing that commercial song about what was in a Big Mac…it was like a game for us…Two all Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce , Cheese, Pickles, Onions on a Sesame Seed Bun, little did we know how many ingredients we were missing. According to the McDonalds Website there are over 72 ingredients in a Big Mac and many of the ingredients are in quantities you wouldn’t feed your worst enemy.

The 7.5 ounce burger has:

540 calories of which 240 are from fat.

Packing 970 grams of Sodium which can cause dehydration symptoms in the body and which closely mimic hunger, also causes the heart to pump harder and the kidneys strain to filter the excess salt.
While McDonalds marketing materials say the Big Mac contains only 9 grams of sugar, independent testing has measured up to 27 grams of sugar, mostly in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup(HFCS) in the bun and Special sauce, which is above the daily recommended amount of sugar for the entire day. The free floating fructose in the HFCS also absorbs too fast into the liver causing insulin spikes and creating additional hunger pangs usually resulting in over eating. Which is good for McDonalds.

Besides HFCS in the Special sauce you will find Propylene Glycol – Otherwise used in Anti Freeze, engine coolants and shampoos….

Beef patty? You may remember a few years ago the “Pink Slime” scandal that rocked McDonalds profits across the world. McDonalds has been forced to spend millions on a PR campaign to convince consumers it no longer is washing its meat scraps in Ammonium Hydroxide or Pink slime to make the food scraps consumable and claims to no longer use this practice and instead to be using only 100% USDA approved beef but there is no way of knowing if this is true.
The Human Body takes between 24-72 hours to digest foods, depending on the food type. Greasy foods and red meats take even longer. The “meat” portion of a Big Mac can take up to 3 full days to digest and by digest we mean ‘rot’ in your intestinal tract as your digestive tract breaks it down to absorb what nutrients it can extract.

Studies have shown it can take almost a full 51 days to digest Trans fats and a Big Mac contains 1.5 grams of trans fat. Even small amounts of trans fats have been linked to heart disease, Obesity, cancers and diabetes.

UCLA Study highlights the negative effects of HFCS on the Brain pathways and healing

Posted by -- October 27, 2015

HFCS and Brain

Breaking news from the UCLA newsroom, published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, came as no surprise to us at “High Fructose Diet Hampers Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury”, published online October 5, 2015 details the effects of a diet heavy with HFCS sabotaged the brains ability to heal from traumatic brain injuries and impairing one’s ability to learn new things.

Important news for TBI victims, veterans, athletes and patients diagnosed with diseases like Parkinson’s or recovering from a Stroke that our diet is a vital part of the recovery process and can either assist or impede healing progress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.7 million people suffer a TBI each year, resulting in 52,000 annual deaths.

The study looked at rats trained to escape a maze over a period of 5 days. They were randomly assigned to two groups one fed regular water, the other fed water laced with HFCS for 6 weeks, simulating a human diet high in HFCS. One week later the rats were anesthetized and a brief pulse of fluid to the head reproducing aspects of human traumatic brain injury. After an additional 6 weeks the researchers tested the rat’s ability to remember the maze. Those rats fed the regular water completed the maze with no problem those fed the water high in HFCS took 30% longer to find the exit.

The researchers found that: The sweetener interfered with the ability of neurons to communicate with each other, rewire connections after injury, record memories and produce enough energy to fuel basic functions. said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery and integrative biology and physiology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and a member of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. “That’s a huge obstacle for anyone to overcome — but especially for a TBI patient, who is often struggling to relearn daily routines and how to care for himself or herself.” Gomez-Pinilla’s team was also the first to uncover the negative impact of HFCS on learning and memory.

“Our findings suggest that fructose disrupts plasticity — the creation of fresh pathways between brain cells that occurs when we learn or experience something new,” said Gomez-Pinilla, which should also be an alert to the millions of students across the world subsisting on a ‘Study’ diet of Coke and snickers bars.

According to the Department of Agriculture the average American consumes 27 pounds of HFCS per year, according to the FDA that number hovers around 63.7 pounds and other sources put the number somewhere in between. The problem is that HFCS has taken so many forms and names that it has become difficult to track including but not limited too: fructose also known as hfcs90, Polyols, Maltitol and Dextrose to plain corn syrup and Yellow Dent #2… the list grows daily. The USA is the biggest manufacturer as well as the largest importer of sweeteners in the world.

“Our take-home message can be boiled down to this: reduce fructose (HFCS) in your diet if you want to protect your brain,” Gomez-Pinilla stressed.

Importance of Food Labels Part 2

Posted by -- October 20, 2015

By Jonathan Wright 

October 20, 2015

Importance of Truth in Labeling Part 2
Continuing our message on the importance of reading labels we present here 8 additional misleading Food Labels and what they really mean and why we continue the fight for Truth in Labeling:
No growth Hormones – usually you will see this claim in ads for pork, chicken, turkey, beef and even milk. While the US Dept of Agriculture doesn’t allow farmers to feed hormones to pork or poultry they get around it by feeding animals antibiotics which speed growth in the same way hormones do. Further increasing our resistance to antibiotics.
Natural – unfortunately there isn’t an official definition for the term. The USDA has defined it as any product that contains no artificial ingredient or added color and is minimally processed. However this does not include whether the item was fed antibiotics or hormones or contains GMO’s.

Grass fed -While the USDA intends this to mean that the animals were fed only 100 percent grass and no corn or soy the producer only has to provide documentation that this is the case, there is no follow up to ensure this is the case and while this rule only applies to beef you will find this label on chickens and pork, animals that cannot survive on grass diets alone.
Anti Biotic Free – another meaningless term, that is actually illegal to place on packaging. However manufacturers make small changes to the wording like “raised without antibiotics” to get around the rules. Many meat producers use anti microbials, identical to antibiotics, to fatten up chickens and hogs faster thereby getting them to market faster.
Nutritional Facts – did you know the FDA allows food manufacturers to use averages for many of the listed Nutritional facts on the food labels like salt content and trans-fats? The FDA allows for as much as 20% differential , so the 300 calorie snack you are having could have as many as 360 calories. For Trans fats manufacturers are allowed to put zero trans-fats if the serving is below .5 grams and while that doesn’t seem like much it’s a quarter of a day’s worth!

Made with Real fruit – doesn’t mean ‘whole’ fruit it can mean fruit juice or extract which means fewer nutrients and more sugar.

Multi Grain – This means your bread, chips or crackers contain two or more grains but not necessarily whole grains. Many times they are refined grained which have a much lower nutritional value.

Reduced Sugar, Low Sugar or no Sugar added – Reduced Sugar means less than 25% of the original product, Low sugar has no definition so can mean any amount and No sugar added means no sugar was added during the manufacture of the product but that doesn’t mean there is no sugar in the product, it may still contain “fructose” which will still show up on the label under added sugars (exp. Unsweetened applesauce)

Add to that the hidden MSG, Food Coloring, Aspartame, pesticides and other unidentified additives and you can see why we continue to challenge the Big Food Manufacturers on their labeling practices…Take a minute and sign the petition from Citizens for Health to amend the FDA Proposed Rules on Food Labeling, HERE

Warning Advisory : Maltitol

Posted by -- September 27, 2015

BeFunky Design

Is Maltitol The New High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Understanding the ingredients that you are looking at is essential when checking labels. We found one that surprised us and want to bring Maltitol to your attention. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol which is similar to sugar but has fewer calories. Sounds Great right? Well…. It also comes along with a mandatory disclaimer that it will cause a “mild” laxative effect.  While Maltitol occurs naturally in chicory, the version used today is chemically produced from Corn Syrup.  Though low in calories (3 per tablespoon) it has a high glycemic value of 53 so it is not recommended for Diabetics, though according to the manufacturer, Food and Beverage conglomerate – Cargill, it is safe if consumed in moderation.  That said, a quick Google search will provide you with a number of warnings and potential side effects of Maltitol that the manufacturer does not reference; from nausea and cramping to rectal bleeding and diarrhea. According to a double blind study conducted by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 8 out of 12 participants developed diarrhea when fed Maltitol as opposed to 3 out of 12 when fed table sugar.

Interestingly a number of Diabetic websites claim Maltitol is safe for diabetics because of its Low carb ratio (but it’s still a Carb) and “sugar free” labeling. Other sites will caution you that the high Glycemic index of Maltitol will spike insulin levels which diabetics need to avoid and which also initiate the feelings of hunger and can lead to more overeating. Maltitol is considered non-digestable (Wait why are we using it in anything we consume?) so it is considered safe for the teeth as it does not promote tooth decay.

Because it is a sugar alcohol it is not classified as “sugar” so it can be used to sweeten products that are advertised as “Sugar Free”. Maltitol is used in a huge range of sugar free sweets including: candy, cough drops, chewing gum, chocolate, ice cream, baked goods and supplements. It is also used in “low carb” breads and food items as well as in many of the Atkins diet products. It is also used as the coating on hard candy as well as in medicine, as a pill coating, and in personal care products like Moisturizers. Many of the Food products containing Maltitol, such as Pillsbury Sugar Free Moist supreme Cake mixes, prominently feature a warning: Disclaimer Text: Excess Consumption may cause a laxative effect (Due to Maltitol). Recently one of FIT’s Staff purchased a Cherry Pie from a local high end Natural Food store & Bakery and noticed it had a Maltitol warning disclaimer, a couple of hours after eating a small slice of the pie our staffer developed stomach cramps which lasted until mid day the next day and experienced nausea and rectal bleeding and upon reflection realized the only thing that could have caused it was the cherry pie.

At a time when many food and beverage manufacturers are removing High Fructose Corn Syrup from their products due to consumer demand, one has to question why other man-made artificial sweeteners made from corn including Maltitol and Fructose are appearing more frequently in the foods we consume.  Could this just be a way of confusing consumers and hiding unhealthy ingredients in our food supply?  Why would anyone purchase a food product that warns of side effects?

Truth in Labeling and a clear understanding of the ingredients you are looking at will help keep you and your family healthy, but perhaps a better solution is to avoid consuming anything with artificial or chemical ingredients, including Maltitol.

Yes, Honey Is Healthier Than High Fructose Corn Syrup, Another Reporter Gets It Wrong

Posted by -- September 23, 2015

In the Huffington Post article, “Honey isn’t any Healthier than Corn Syrup or regular sugar for that matter”, author Suzy Strutner skips some important science.  While Ms Strutner points out that HFCS is different from “regular sugar” and many of the recent articles about raw vs. processed honey align with her point, she overlooks important science that underscores the difference between HFCS and honey.

While Ms Strutner is correct that the chemical compounds of HFCS, Sucrose (table sugar) and Honey are all chemically similar (though not identical) they differ widely in how the body processes them and what they contribute to the body.  Table sugar is about a 50/50 split of fructose and glucose, Honey is generally 30% glucose, 40% fructose with the rest made up of water, other sugar types and dextrin (a type of starchy fiber), HFCS roughly contains 55% fructose and 42% glucose. However, when you consume table sugar the body uses enzymes to break down the fructose and glucose bond and processes them thru the liver stimulating insulin which triggers the release of a hormone called Leptin signaling the body that it is full. Due to the un-bonded nature of the fructose and glucose in the HFCS the fructose goes straight to the liver and is ingested and stored as fat leaving you hungry regardless of the amount of food you have consumed.

In one study, at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, one group of participants was fed just fructose and they reported feeling hungry and irritable. The group fed pure glucose reported feeling full and satisfied. In another study researchers compared the effects of honey and refined fructose feeding on rats. Rats being fed fructose had raised triglycerides more than those fed honey. Those being fed fructose had decreased blood levels of vitamin E, while those being fed honey did not, suggesting less oxidative stress. Fructose also promoted more inflammation than honey.

Additionally studies suggest that Honey provides many benefits that HFCS cannot, from being an antioxidant to helping cuts and burns heal faster, easing a cough and curing a hangover. Recent research revealed that less-refined sweeteners, including honey, contain more antioxidants and other potentially beneficial compounds than refined table sugar. “A study published in January in the Journal of the American Dietetic Assn. showed that using less-refined sweeteners instead of white sugar could add the same amount of antioxidants found in a serving of nuts or purple fruits, but that molasses and date sugar contained the highest levels of antioxidants. Other studies have shown that the antioxidant content of honey depends on what sort of plant nectar it is made from.”

Honey contains over a hundred different compounds, not just fructose and glucose. It has a small amount of minerals, amino acids (many of which have yet to be identified and cataloged), and vitamins….It’s a Whole food by any definition and the human body was designed to process whole foods, refined food-like products, not so much. They produce different results and effects when you ingest them.  “Eating a handful of berries”says Researcher Mark Sisson “isn’t the same as sprinkling an equal amount of berry-extracted sugar in your water and drinking it”.


Devil Is in the Detail – Importance of Labels – Part 1

Posted by -- August 31, 2015

Labelling ruse…how ‘fructose’ is fructose-overload-infographiccamouflage for HFCS-90

When the consuming public widely rejected products containing HFCS, many food manufacturers produced new formulations to address this concern, and shore up lost revenue.  Some also spent considerable resources repackaging and advertising to make clear HCFS was no longer used.  By and large, those efforts produced more healthy versions of products as far as sweeteners were concerned.

But we are concerned that many efforts to date have the optics right but not the substance–its great that HFCS is removed, but if that toxic industrial sweetener isn’t substituted with something better, then the only change is on the label, not what’s inside!  And what if the substitution is even WORSE than HFCS?  Some efforts we fear had the nefarious effect of spawning formulations even less healthy than the one consumers rejected.

Some manufacturers that removed HFCS from a product added back what is labeled ‘fructose’ as a sweetening ingredient (either solo or in combination with others). Many consumers believe fructose on the label is the naturally occurring sugar found in fruits, which is almost certainly not the case, because it would be prohibitively expensive to produce.   Until proven otherwise, safer to assume it’s HFCS-90 renamed “fructose” –an industry labeling norm according to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) website.  Far sweeter than either table sugar or HFCS-42 or HFCS-55 (the two concentrations the FDA allows to be called HFCS) it uses less to achieve the same sweetness thus lowers the manufacturers production costs.

By naming the replacement sweetener something that sounds vaguely healthy, some food conglomerates get a pass from public scrutiny and may now be free to sell a really unhealthy product unfettered for years.  We advise consumers to be wary of this increasingly common substitute for HFCS.  Among the worst Culprits we found to date are: Nature Valley Chewy Protein Bars, General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Vanilla Chex Cereals, Welch’s Natural Raspberry Spread, and some versions of Kellogg’s Pop Tarts.  All use fructose as a sweetener, while their label proclaims “NO HFCS!”

So how do wise consumers remain vigilant in spotting this kind of ruse?  Before buying, they confirm not only that unhealthy ingredients are removed, but also that replacement ingredients are legitimately healthier. To this end, we have prompted the FDA to comment on the nature of ‘fructose’ in food labels.  We have not yet received a response, but our assumption is the FDA is not likely to comment on the nature of fructose as an ingredient at present.  This is because in acknowledging that ‘fructose’ was in fact the additive HFCS-90, a non-GRAS ingredient, the regulator would likely face intense public pressure to halt the sale of such products, via legal enforcement powers the FDA almost never exercises.

So for now, all you can do is ask your food manufacturers using ‘fructose’ as an ingredient if it’s the naturally occurring kind or the additive HFCS-90.  Until you get confirmation to the contrary from the food makers you ask, assume the ‘fructose’ additive on labels of mass produced food is in fact HFCS-90.

And in the meantime, simply stop buying it—especially if the product label shouts “No HFCS” while probably containing super sweet HFCS-90 disguised as fructose!

So what else can be done to get consumers enough information to make an informed choice about sweeteners?  Support Citizens For Health (CFH) efforts by signing its Petition filed with the FDA to amend the FDA Proposed Rules on Food Labelling.  CFH’s appeal to the FDA was meant to assist consumers to flush out such slimy tactics as the “HFCS-90 disguised as fructose” ruse.  So if you haven’t already, take a moment now and sign the CFH Petition via this link:

Coca Cola backed study : ‘Lack of Exercise, Not your Diet, Makes You Fat.”

Posted by -- August 21, 2015

Coke Blog Image

Headlines that challenge long-held health and diet wisdom usually cause two things:  1) Gets lots of people to read the supporting article 2)  Prompts most to scrutinize the research sponsor and motivation.  FIT looks to keep these types of discussions transparent, and so feels compelled to discuss a New York Times article from August 9, 2015 which trumpeted this research conclusion “Coca Cola funds scientists who shift blame for obesity away from bad diets

The research sponsor, Global Energy Balance Network, (GEBN) was launched in 2014, with a hefty $1.5 million dollar check from Coca Cola.   GEBN’s position is clear:  You can eat anything you want, you just have to exercise enough to burn it off.   Steven N. Blair, an exercise scientist and GEBN’s vice president, says “Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on,”. “And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”

So many things misleading in this quote, but let’s focus on two.   First, 95% of soda is sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), not with sugar, so that ‘sugary’ term probably misleads.  Second, complex processes like weight gain almost never possess a single cause, so it’s not news that a single cause cannot be identified.   Further, this statement buries the fact that weight gain and diet correlate very closely, a fact reflected in renowned university studies and USDA guidance, specifically:

  • Forty years of Harvard University research found a direct correlation between obesity rates and diets of syrupy sweetened high calorie sodas (again, 95% of sodas are HFCS-sweetened, so  your soda most likely contains NO sugar)
  • USDA guidelines on weight maintenance are based on diet (calories consuming food and beverages) as primary gauge for weight management.
  • FDA has even issued guidelines for consuming natural sugar, but none for syrupy substitutes, such as HFCS.

So this finding, in fact, probably restates the obvious: for superiorly fit individuals, diet has less impact on weight than it does for the general (non-active or sedentary) population.  Most of us could logically surmise the super fitness correlation on diet without bothering with the research.  Further, we would rule out any applicability to ourselves!  And it completely excludes the clinically supported fact that high soda consumption does have a pronounced negative effect on weight and health.  Demand for soda continues to drop materially, while soda use and excise taxes drive up soda price to customers.   Over the last two decades soda sales have seen a 25% drop and Coca Cola is digging into its deep pockets to convince you that Coke is Still the Real Thing and part of a healthy diet.   So who’s interested in circulating this research news that gives permission to consume without consequences?  (Hint:  Not top athletes…) Soda manufacturers, certainly.

GEBNs website is registered to donor Coke, who also covers the website’s maintenance costs. The optics of this donation suggest that GEBN’s very mouthpiece is subject to undue influence by Coke.  We welcome diverse research if it is objective.  We seek it out.   The research parameters in the Coke-funded studies we will attempt to secure and report back on in an upcoming blog.  For now, the objective data in this published report and the facts below imply a likely probability that GEBN is not free to present a balanced set of facts if they do not support sales of Coke.  Three other matters also call to question GEBN’s independence:

  • GEBN’s website omitted mention of Coke as donor until research disclosure was made public.
  • GEBN latest two reports include these disclosures “The publication of this article was supported by The Coca-Cola Company.”
  • Since 2008, Coca Cola has provided over $4 million dollars in research funding to GEBN’s founding members, Dr. Blair and Dr. Gregory Hand.

Our Takeaway:  Most among us do not exercise enough to heed the findings outlined in GEBN’s research; the study’s intent is purely commercial and may even pose a public-health risk by discouraging a focus on diet.  For most of us, diet has a MAJOR effect on our weight and health.  This common sense view is supported by objective data from reliable, unbiased sources like Harvard and the USDA.  The greater incidence of high calorie diets comprised of ever-larger doses of processed syrupy additives such as HFCS correlates with –and is linked by some studies –to the rise of obesity and many other disorders.

Despite attempts by GEBN to divert attention away from scrutinizing your diet, remain diligent regarding what you consume.   In particular, consumers concerned about making healthy changes are well advised to find alternatives to HFCS- sweetened soda.  Switch to natural sweeteners such as sugar in moderation and stay away from chemicals manufactured in factories that happen to have a sweet taste.  Finally, be mindful of a very telling pair of facts:

1) Per capita consumption of “sugar” in 2009 was the same as the per capita consumption of sugar in 1909 – so rising obesity rates in US are a function of factors OTHER than consuming larger quantities of sugar.

2) By contrast, HFCS consumption has skyrocketed concurrent with rising diabetes and obesity rates.

Good Guys Update: Who is making the change to ‘No HFCS’

Posted by -- August 12, 2015



Time again to applaud companies and brands taking action to remove High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) from their products.   One caveat up front: we apply the Good Guys moniker to companies showing tangible efforts to move away from HFCS, e.g., a manufacturer that has improved some product formulations by replacing HFCS with natural sweeteners.   Nonetheless, Good Guys may still use HFCS in some products, so smart consumers still need to read each label to make informed decisions! That said, we remain cautiously optimistic; since our last post on the “Good Guys” we note a groundswell movement by US mega-brands to remove HFCS from their products.  Joining the list of healthier offerings:

Most recently General Mills has taken an enormous step in removing HCFS from many of its most popular cereals and they are not being shy about it. Airing over 7,552 Commercials produced by the McCann Erickson agency and featuring the song “Love First” by Kyle Andrews, touting “Whole grain is the first ingredient in every General Mills Big G cereals“ and ”No High fructose Corn Syrup” prominently in the commercial (in fact, this blog post’s title graphic IS part of this commercial!).

Sara Lee’s removal of HFCS from its Soft & Smooth and 100% Whole Wheat Breads because their consumers, particularly moms, indicated they would only buy bread without HFCS.  

Subway removed HFCS from its sandwich breads.

Yogurt giant Yoplait eliminated HFCS from all products, citing the change came from Tweets and emails from customers.

Kraft announced in February 2015 a decision to sweeten its drinks with sugar instead of HFCSleading to the elimination of HFCS from its Capri Sun Juice Drinks.  Kraft also removed HFCS from its Nabisco Wheat Thins and Premium crackers, and many Kraft salad dressings,

Heinz has created a sugar-sweetened version of its iconic ketchup, while Hunt’s removed HFCS from its entire retail ketchup line in 2010 (those little packets of wholesale ketchups kept HFCS)

Pepsi introduced a new line of soft drinks “made with real sugar.” Gatorade replaced HFCS as the sweetener in its sports drinks.  Coke Life is sweetened entirely with sugar.  (But read the labels, there are many other ingredients in all three products that merit scrutiny.) ;p;

Natural Brand Annie’s manufactures many products that are HFCS free:  including many salad dressings, their honey mustard, ketchup and BBQ sauce.

Chick-fil-A’s has taken High Fructose Corn Syrup out of its sauces and dressings.

Kroger Supermarkets is removing HFCS from its store-brand cereals following surveys with consumers.

Wild Oats announcing a new line of products at Walmart stores will not contain “the unwanted ingredient” HFCS.

On the horizon…

Snackwell’s announced recently that it has committed itself to removing high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, and artificial flavors and colors from its snack foods

In December 2014, Hershey reported that its consumers seemed to prefer real sugar over HFCS, and that the company was looking into removing HFCS from its products permanently. Although at the time of this printing no further information is available about this transition.

Campbells has also announced intentions to reduce artificial ingredients throughout its range of products, but there are few details and no reformulations yet.

So Hershey’s , Snackwells, and Campbells….Next time, perhaps?!