Public Health England might want to rethink this one. Because shrinking sweet sizes to cut obesity will most likely achieve nothing.
Nothing except irate sweet eaters who eat double to compensate.
Oh sure, the sugar in sweets DOES contribute to making us all fatter.
But one Snickers bar a week is not exactly going to blow us up like an elephant.
It takes several a day – on top of pigging out on everything else – to do that.
Gorging ourselves stupid. Eating too much – of everything. Absorbing too much for our bodies to take, so they bulk up.
Exactly what farmers do to get animals ready for market. As quickly as possible – money, money, money.
Gut bacteria on the fritz
Which is why they feed them drugs to fatten them up. Deliberately obese-ifying them. From an egg to a roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From newborn calf to an Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.
And the drugs they use are antibiotics. Added to feedstuffs in small doses. Just right to tip animals’ gut bacteria into always wanting food. Becoming more efficient at extracting nutrients from it too. The proven way to bulk up fast.
Because aren’t drugs frequently tested on animals before they’re let loose on humans? To see if they work properly – or head off any Frankenstein side-effects?
Yes, well. Farmers worldwide have proved the case well and truly – and do so every day. As they have done since antibiotics were discovered 50 years ago. Today they’re using 240,000 tonnes of the stuff a year.
Which is how they produce the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that keep us fed.
And how they pushed food production to feed us all. From the 2½ billion people we were 50 years ago – to the7½ billion we are today. All off exactly the same available land.
Get the picture? The planet isn’t any bigger since back then – what’s different is the antibiotics.
So yes, proven. Antibiotics obese-ify animals, which means they obese-ify us too. The world’s most efficient super-fattening growth boosters. Which is how come today two thirds of us are porkers.
Proven beyond doubt.
Which sort of says that cutting sweet sizes down by a fifth isn’t exactly going to crack it. People will get fat anyway, from the other stuff that they eat. Fat and getting fatter, even if they’ve never chomped a Snickers.
Now of course, the powers that be will tell you this isn’t possible. That there aren’t any antibiotics in the foods we eat. Farmers feed them to their animals, yes – but doses are withdrawn weeks before market and all meat is antibiotics-free.
If only. Because to feed 7½ billion people requires factory farm methods to sustain enough food supply.
CAFOs these farms are called – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Animals crowded into intensive growing areas – so much on top of each other that antibiotics are necessary just to help them survive.
OK, so health authorities know this. And they’re concerned too, for the effect any antibiotics in the meat might have on humans. Specifically carcinogenic, toxic or allergenic effects.
Antimicrobal resistance & MRLs
And of course superbugs. Harmful bacteria that have become immune to antibiotics and cannot be treated. Top of the list being carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), neisseria gonorrhoeae, clostridium difficile, multi drug-resistant acinetobacter – and the only one most of us have heard of – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
All of which raise the scary reality that modern medicine is back to the Dark Ages. Soon heart bypass surgery, C-section births and hip replacements will no longer possible because the drugs won’t work against infection.
That said, there’s still antibiotics in our food. Because while levels are reduced to make it safe for us to eat, they’re not removed entirely. Trace residues are still allowed as long as they conform to legal Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs).
Still there in our food, but only in little bits.
Precisely the way antibiotics are administered to livestock to obese-ify them.
And precisely the way we ingest them when we eat animal meat. Little drip-drip doses, just enough to tip our gut bacteria out of balance and our appetites jammed on full throttle.
If only it stopped there.
You see, most animals only absorb 20% of the food value that they eat. The rest is excreted as waste – Nature’s way of providing nutrients to enrich the soil and promote plant life.
Manure and fertiliser for plant crops. Vital at today’s population volumes. So that antibiotics-laden enrichment finds its way into everything else that we eat. Grains crops, cereals, vegetables, fruit – often in higher concentrations than with animal meat.
And not monitored either because nobody twigs there’s antibiotics in their food source.
It’s also how antibiotics in animal meat sneak back – in higher volumes than regulations allow.
Not all meat is monitored and tested, the logistics are impossible. Any checks are intermittent and random.
Meanwhile, the calf that’s eating grass or feed from sugar beet is still chowing down its daily dose of antibiotics. Grown back into its food by the very manure it pooed out in the first place.
And in water too, because the stuff seeps down into the water table, to be carried in streams to our river system. So when our drinking water comes from the Thames, it quite probably has antibiotics in it.
Sugar tax or sugar hoax?
Harsh reality, huh?
And we haven’t had a Snickers or a Coke since the start of this page – yet already we’re full of antibiotics making us fatter.
Not good, PSE. Not good at all. And there’s a sugar craving coming on.
Better watch the Great British Bake Off.
We can’t eat sweets, so we’ll have to get our hit some other way.
Picture Copyright: sumners / 123RF Stock Photo