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Human behaviour is always dynamic and changing yet, paradoxically, ideas frequently get fixed in people's imagination and these concepts survive as stereotypical clichés long after the particular behaviour has changed.  Take as an example the British and their famous tea drinking habit.  Since the early 1700's drinking tea has become a defining part of the U.K.’s character.  It started as the exclusive drink of the upper class, was taken up by the upwardly-mobile middle class and then, becoming cheaper and more widely available in Dickensian times, it was adopted by the lower classes.  At the beginning of the 20th Century it was so firmly entrenched as a society norm it was the apocryphal drink that calmed the nerves of all British citizens during two World Wars, and the British population is now internationally defined as a nation of tea drinkers.  This concept of ritual tea-drinking is reinforced by television drama shows like Downton Abbey and Sherlock, yet it doesn't represent current behaviour at all. Data tells a quite different story.  According to the Office for National Statistics’ family spending survey, people in Britain now spend on average a third more per week on coffee than they do on tea, 60p is spent on coffee and 40p on tea.  On that basis you might deduce that Britain is now a nation of coffee drinkers but again you would be wrong.  We spend over twice as much on soft drinks (£1.40 per week) and a third more on so-called fruit juices (90p per week) than we do on coffee.  These statistics really sadden me.  To think that the average British household has been duped into spending so much of its hard earned money on soft drinks which have virtually no nutritional value.  Whether still or carbonated, they are all essentially highly sugared water mixed with artificial flavouring and colouring.  And consuming high levels of sugar is addictive and dangerous.  Major medical research shows a strong link between high sugar consumption and the rise in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.  To make matters worse, we adults encourage this unhealthy and addictive behaviour in our children.  It would be far better if we gave them tea or coffee to drink, (without sugar they are comparatively healthy), or better still just water from the tap.  Drinking sugared water, particularly as a primary drink, is a health disaster waiting to happen. I’m an old cynic and despair that health messages are overwhelmed by the seductive marketing of the gigantic Soft Drinks Industry who would have us believe that their products have nothing to do with weight gain or diabetes but are positively life enhancing.  The brilliant and prohibitively expensive advertising campaigns that international brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola run are probably etched on our brains - always subconsciously associated with “happiness”.  Remember Coca-Cola’s attractive, vivacious, slim youngsters cheerfully swigging their Cokes?  Soft drink manufacturers can afford the best marketing available as their sugared water is ridiculously cheap to produce, and sold expensively, generating the highest profit margins.  Some of these huge profits pay for the advertising to boost increasing demands for their drinks - and so it goes. I’m sorry to rant but the fizzy cola category stands out as the richest and largest spender in the whole of the soft drinks industry which contains some of the biggest advertisers in the world.  Coke and Pepsi know that their drinks are often bought on impulse so they ensure their branded cooler cabinets are conveniently available in any shop, café or school refectory that will take them.  These companies particularly favour university campuses where students can reinforce their addiction so they will continue their habit into adulthood. Addiction?  Simply put: Regular sugar intake stimulates receptors in the brain which respond to pleasure.  This creates a vicious circle of addictive behaviour which reinforces the craving for another sugar hit.  So the Coca Cola habit (like the cocaine habit) becomes incredibly hard to break. Advertising statistics show me that one of the cruelly misleading methods used by soft drink manufacturers to sell their drinks is the promotion of low calorie or sugar free versions of soft drinks that contain Aspartame or other artificial sweeteners. If you drink any of Coca-Cola's low calorie drinks you will be familiar with Aspartame. On drink labels Aspartame often hides behind brand names like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure, despite being considered by some in the medical profession to be by far the most dangerous product added to food today.  This is because Aspartame accounts for as much as three quarters of the medical problems that people go on to develop from food additives. All artificial sweeteners are categorised as “intensive” sweeteners because they possess a higher level of sweetness than that found in regular sugar.  According to the Harvard School of Public Health, Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar.  Sometimes the industry uses other artificial sweeteners based on saccharin like Sugar Twin and Sweet'N Low.  These are 300 times sweeter than sugar.  Or they could be using a sweetener based on sucralose, like Splenda, which is 600 times sweeter than sugar.  In order to make a very, very sweet product manufacturers can even resort to using Neotame which is an amazing 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar.  So why are humans so hooked on sweet things?  Prehistoric man evolved a desire to eat sweet, calorie-rich (and high fibre) shoots, roots, hard fruits and berries, partly because he needed all the energy he could get to stalk, hunt and kill prey, and partly because they allowed him to store fat which helped him to survive food shortages and cold periods.  But sweet things were a small part of his varied diet.  Today’s food scientists have produced products with levels of sweetness that our bodies are unequipped to handle, creating an addictive desire. Despite promising zero or close to zero calories, all artificial sweeteners have the same effect on the body: they activate and prepare the digestive system for calories that do not arrive.  Hence after drinking a product like Coke Zero, as so many failed dieters know, the body craves carbohydrates to supply the “missing” calories the body expected which didn't arrive.  Low calorie or zero calorie drinks usually increase weight gain, not from the products themselves, of course, but from the other foods consumed because the body has been deceived.  It is disingenuous, to say the least, for Coca-Cola to imply that these products will help people lose weight when they have quite the opposite affect by making them even hungrier for carbohydrates from other sources. For many years Coca-Cola has lobbied politicians against any health warning labels being placed on their drinks and, of course, they sponsor sporting events so their brand is widely associated with health and fitness.  The company has also worked insidiously to stop the introduction of any tax on products containing high amounts of sugar.  As increased public awareness of the causes of obesity and diabetes has risen, Coca-Cola is sensibly diversifying away from sugared or artificially sweetened drinks.  But this hasn't inhibited their continuing and devious lobbying of scientists to support any research that supports the concept that sugar is good for the human body despite the fact that there is a large pool of literature and much medical evidence that proves it is bad.  Sugar, or artificially sweetened beverages, still produce the lion's share of Coca-Cola's profit.  Only recently Coca-Cola's Chief Scientist had to resign after leaked emails showed the company was involved in funding, to the tune of $1.5million, a not-for-profit university research organisation whose sole aim was to downplay sugar as the cause of the obesity epidemic in America and to promote lack of exercise as the problem instead.  The emails showed that a University of Colorado professor, who headed the supposedly independent academic organisation, was ingratiatingly willing to do nearly anything that would improve Coca-Cola's sweet drink sales.  The emails also showed that before the company’s money flowed into the organisation, only academics who were willing to work with Coca-Cola in getting their positive messages across were to be recruited.  When this scandal became public the University Of Colorado were shamed and embarrassed enough to return $1 million of Coca-Cola's money, so the company had to find a senior scapegoat - hence the Chief Scientist's resignation.  It is appalling to think that academics, who are supposedly educated, wise and independent thinkers, should turn out to have been so easily seduced to do the bidding of the sugared water industry. One shocking research study, that examined many studies funded by Coca-Cola or its trade association, discovered that they had an 83% higher chance of showing no harmful link between obesity and the higher consumption of colas, whilst government-funded studies found clear and harmful links.  If some academic research cannot be trusted, and the advertising is so powerfully persuasive, is it any wonder that many people are unable to control their desire for something sweet and resort to using sugared, fizzy water to quench their thirst?  Of course, this is where decent governments should step in and make things more difficult for the Soft Drinks Industry. Against immense political pressure Mexico did just this by introducing a sugar tax, a one peso (4p) tax per litre, on fizzy drinks in 2013.  Mexico is a hot country where the average consumption of Coca-Cola is 163 litres per person per year. That's nearly half a litre per day, so it’s no surprise that 32% of the population are obese.  That makes Mexico second only to the U.S. in the deadly global competition as to which country has the fattest population.  Two years later Mexican data shows the ten percent tax has reduced consumption of fizzy water drinks by 12%.  In simple terms this means that the average person is drinking 4.2 litres fewer fizzy drinks per year.  The Soft Drinks Industry has always disputed that consumption would be reduced by taxation but now, with an authoritative study available, the evidence is unequivocal. Here in the U.K. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, who appears to be in thrall to the Soft Drinks Industry, has resisted calls from the government body, Public Health England, to impose a sugar tax on soft drinks similar to Mexico’s.  Whilst Cameron continues to pay obeisance to the “sugar water industry,” obesity and diabetes will continue to rise.  And so will the costs for the National Health Service (NHS) which has to deal with the resultant tragic decrease in human health.  So I suggest that we all, not just the British, revert to being tea drinkers again. January 2016
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Bitter Sweet Facts…

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Human behaviour is always dynamic and changing yet, paradoxically, ideas frequently get fixed in people's imagination and these concepts survive as stereotypical clichés long after the particular behaviour has changed.  Take as an example the British and their famous tea drinking habit.  Since the early 1700's drinking tea has become a defining part of the U.K.’s character.  It started as the exclusive drink of the upper class, was taken up by the upwardly-mobile middle class and then, becoming cheaper and more widely available in Dickensian times, it was adopted by the lower classes.  At the beginning of the 20th Century it was so firmly entrenched as a society norm it was the apocryphal drink that calmed the nerves of all British citizens during two World Wars, and the British population is now internationally defined as a nation of tea drinkers.  This concept of ritual tea-drinking is reinforced by television drama shows like Downton Abbey and Sherlock, yet it doesn't represent current behaviour at all. Data tells a quite different story.  According to the Office for National Statistics’ family spending survey, people in Britain now spend on average a third more per week on coffee than they do on tea, 60p is spent on coffee and 40p on tea.  On that basis you might deduce that Britain is now a nation of coffee drinkers but again you would be wrong.  We spend over twice as much on soft drinks (£1.40 per week) and a third more on so-called fruit juices (90p per week) than we do on coffee.  These statistics really sadden me.  To think that the average British household has been duped into spending so much of its hard earned money on soft drinks which have virtually no nutritional value.  Whether still or carbonated, they are all essentially highly sugared water mixed with artificial flavouring and colouring.  And consuming high levels of sugar is addictive and dangerous.  Major medical research shows a strong link between high sugar consumption and the rise in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.  To make matters worse, we adults encourage this unhealthy and addictive behaviour in our children.  It would be far better if we gave them tea or coffee to drink, (without sugar they are comparatively healthy), or better still just water from the tap.  Drinking sugared water, particularly as a primary drink, is a health disaster waiting to happen. I’m an old cynic and despair that health messages are overwhelmed by the seductive marketing of the gigantic Soft Drinks Industry who would have us believe that their products have nothing to do with weight gain or diabetes but are positively life enhancing.  The brilliant and prohibitively expensive advertising campaigns that international brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola run are probably etched on our brains - always subconsciously associated with “happiness”.  Remember Coca-Cola’s attractive, vivacious, slim youngsters cheerfully swigging their Cokes?  Soft drink manufacturers can afford the best marketing available as their sugared water is ridiculously cheap to produce, and sold expensively, generating the highest profit margins.  Some of these huge profits pay for the advertising to boost increasing demands for their drinks - and so it goes. I’m sorry to rant but the fizzy cola category stands out as the richest and largest spender in the whole of the soft drinks industry which contains some of the biggest advertisers in the world.  Coke and Pepsi know that their drinks are often bought on impulse so they ensure their branded cooler cabinets are conveniently available in any shop, café or school refectory that will take them.  These companies particularly favour university campuses where students can reinforce their addiction so they will continue their habit into adulthood. Addiction?  Simply put: Regular sugar intake stimulates receptors in the brain which respond to pleasure.  This creates a vicious circle of addictive behaviour which reinforces the craving for another sugar hit.  So the Coca Cola habit (like the cocaine habit) becomes incredibly hard to break. Advertising statistics show me that one of the cruelly misleading methods used by soft drink manufacturers to sell their drinks is the promotion of low calorie or sugar free versions of soft drinks that contain Aspartame or other artificial sweeteners. If you drink any of Coca-Cola's low calorie drinks you will be familiar with Aspartame. On drink labels Aspartame often hides behind brand names like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure, despite being considered by some in the medical profession to be by far the most dangerous product added to food today.  This is because Aspartame accounts for as much as three quarters of the medical problems that people go on to develop from food additives. All artificial sweeteners are categorised as “intensive” sweeteners because they possess a higher level of sweetness than that found in regular sugar.  According to the Harvard School of Public Health, Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar.  Sometimes the industry uses other artificial sweeteners based on saccharin like Sugar Twin and Sweet'N Low.  These are 300 times sweeter than sugar.  Or they could be using a sweetener based on sucralose, like Splenda, which is 600 times sweeter than sugar.  In order to make a very, very sweet product manufacturers can even resort to using Neotame which is an amazing 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar.  So why are humans so hooked on sweet things?  Prehistoric man evolved a desire to eat sweet, calorie-rich (and high fibre) shoots, roots, hard fruits and berries, partly because he needed all the energy he could get to stalk, hunt and kill prey, and partly because they allowed him to store fat which helped him to survive food shortages and cold periods.  But sweet things were a small part of his varied diet.  Today’s food scientists have produced products with levels of sweetness that our bodies are unequipped to handle, creating an addictive desire. Despite promising zero or close to zero calories, all artificial sweeteners have the same effect on the body: they activate and prepare the digestive system for calories that do not arrive.  Hence after drinking a product like Coke Zero, as so many failed dieters know, the body craves carbohydrates to supply the “missing” calories the body expected which didn't arrive.  Low calorie or zero calorie drinks usually increase weight gain, not from the products themselves, of course, but from the other foods consumed because the body has been deceived.  It is disingenuous, to say the least, for Coca-Cola to imply that these products will help people lose weight when they have quite the opposite affect by making them even hungrier for carbohydrates from other sources. For many years Coca-Cola has lobbied politicians against any health warning labels being placed on their drinks and, of course, they sponsor sporting events so their brand is widely associated with health and fitness.  The company has also worked insidiously to stop the introduction of any tax on products containing high amounts of sugar.  As increased public awareness of the causes of obesity and diabetes has risen, Coca-Cola is sensibly diversifying away from sugared or artificially sweetened drinks.  But this hasn't inhibited their continuing and devious lobbying of scientists to support any research that supports the concept that sugar is good for the human body despite the fact that there is a large pool of literature and much medical evidence that proves it is bad.  Sugar, or artificially sweetened beverages, still produce the lion's share of Coca-Cola's profit.  Only recently Coca-Cola's Chief Scientist had to resign after leaked emails showed the company was involved in funding, to the tune of $1.5million, a not-for-profit university research organisation whose sole aim was to downplay sugar as the cause of the obesity epidemic in America and to promote lack of exercise as the problem instead.  The emails showed that a University of Colorado professor, who headed the supposedly independent academic organisation, was ingratiatingly willing to do nearly anything that would improve Coca- Cola's sweet drink sales.  The emails also showed that before the company’s money flowed into the organisation, only academics who were willing to work with Coca-Cola in getting their positive messages across were to be recruited.  When this scandal became public the University Of Colorado were shamed and embarrassed enough to return $1 million of Coca-Cola's money, so the company had to find a senior scapegoat - hence the Chief Scientist's resignation.  It is appalling to think that academics, who are supposedly educated, wise and independent thinkers, should turn out to have been so easily seduced to do the bidding of the sugared water industry. One shocking research study, that examined many studies funded by Coca-Cola or its trade association, discovered that they had an 83% higher chance of showing no harmful link between obesity and the higher consumption of colas, whilst government-funded studies found clear and harmful links.  If some academic research cannot be trusted, and the advertising is so powerfully persuasive, is it any wonder that many people are unable to control their desire for something sweet and resort to using sugared, fizzy water to quench their thirst?  Of course, this is where decent governments should step in and make things more difficult for the Soft Drinks Industry. Against immense political pressure Mexico did just this by introducing a sugar tax, a one peso (4p) tax per litre, on fizzy drinks in 2013.  Mexico is a hot country where the average consumption of Coca-Cola is 163 litres per person per year. That's nearly half a litre per day, so it’s no surprise that 32% of the population are obese.  That makes Mexico second only to the U.S. in the deadly global competition as to which country has the fattest population.  Two years later Mexican data shows the ten percent tax has reduced consumption of fizzy water drinks by 12%.  In simple terms this means that the average person is drinking 4.2 litres fewer fizzy drinks per year.  The Soft Drinks Industry has always disputed that consumption would be reduced by taxation but now, with an authoritative study available, the evidence is unequivocal. Here in the U.K. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, who appears to be in thrall to the Soft Drinks Industry, has resisted calls from the government body, Public Health England, to impose a sugar tax on soft drinks similar to Mexico’s.  Whilst Cameron continues to pay obeisance to the “sugar water industry,” obesity and diabetes will continue to rise.  And so will the costs for the National Health Service (NHS) which has to deal with the resultant tragic decrease in human health.  So I suggest that we all, not just the British, revert to being tea drinkers again. January 2016

Bitter Sweet Facts…

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