Hey, Coke and Pepsi! I've Got Your Back!
It was only last week here in Panama that I was talking to a Pepsi truck driver from Philadelphia. They'll be coming for you sugar guys next, I said. It's already started, he retorted. In Philadelphia recently, the union bussed the drivers down to City Hall to protest a tax on sugar.
Now we read that the trial lawyers are going for a repeat on the Big Tobacco shakedown of the 1990s. They want the state attorneys general to sue Big Food to "pay for soaring obesity-related health care costs." And why not? Back in the 1990s, Big Law got Big Tobacco to pony up $420 billion to pay into state slush funds for soaring tobacco-related health care costs.
What a deal that was! Four hundred and twenty billion for lawyers and politicians to spread out among their closest friends!
Only it turned out, far too late, that smokers actually cost the government less money than ordinary folks. Yes, smokers cost a bundle in health care costs, but they die before collecting on their Social Security benefits, so government actually comes out ahead on smokers. So did the trial lawyers, the spunky fellahs, so everybody wins.
After adjusting for age, smoking, sex, B.M.I., physical activity and other factors, they found that compared with people whose calories were less than 10 percent from added sugar, those whose intake was 10 to 25 percent added sugar had a 30 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death. Those whose diet was more than 25 percent added sugar almost tripled their risk.
OK. So sugar is really bad.
There is another, bigger issue. And that is government's role in the obesity epidemic. Readers will probably know the story, courtesy of Gary Taubes.
Back in the late 1940s, researchers began to notice that heart-attack victims had fat deposits -- e.g., cholesterol -- in their coronary arteries. Wow! What would be the first thing that came to mind? It was obvious, kids -- just as obvious as CO2 and global warming. Dietary fat led to fatty deposits in your arteries. Pretty soon, Dr. Ancel Keys, who had got into the government grant game by developing the K-ration in World War II, did his Seven Countries Study and found that high fat in the diet correlated with high coronary problems. He then aggressively lobbied the government to fight dietary fat. Study after study was done to convict dietary fat of the Keys indictment, but it was hard to replicate the Keys results. Never mind -- the government decided to go ahead and bully Americans into lowering their dietary fat intake with food labeling and "low fat" foods. That usually meant foods higher in carbohydrates. Such as sugar.
The funny thing was that even as the whole liberal horde was forcing America off high fat onto "low fat," the incidence of obesity and diabetes kept going up. See this recent article on that. How could it happen?
Here's how. Researchers are finding out that it's not dietary fat that's the problem at all. It's dietary carbohydrates, including "added sugar." That's because simple carbohydrates stimulate the production of insulin, and insulin makes you hungry by sequestering triglycerides in the fat cells, so you stuff in some more carbohydrates -- and that stimulates the production of insulin, and insulin makes you hungry for more carbs. Pretty soon you're as fat as a butterball. Only butter doesn't make you fat.
Pretty soon, the government's "low fat" diet brought on metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, and arteriosclerosis, and heart disease and premature death. So who's to blame? Big Food, of course, with all that sugar in their low-fat processed foods.
Now come the trial lawyers with their brilliant plan to make Big Food pay for fifty years of big-government bullying over diet. Why not? You think that the liberal activists and bureaucrats have any money to spare?
Personally, I blame the merchants of Venice. They were the guys who financed the first Western sugar plantations after the Crusades and got the whole plantation slavery thing going. You'd think the trial lawyers would know that. Then they could sue Italy -- not just for the health care costs, but for reparations!
And I think it's time for Coke to reactivate the Old Cola Drinkers of America -- the guys who put "New Coke" in the history books. When the government is after you, there's nothing quite like a bunch of obese old white guys in tee-shirts backing you up.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:email@example.com) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism. Get his Road to the Middle Class.