You really want to sue for fast food making you fat?

Gob-stopper
Sentenced to obesity – driven by antibiotics

Actually sue?

Just don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Because if any Tom, Dick or Nina walks in off the street and orders a burger, you don’t see them get fat do you? They don’t get fat tomorrow either, or the next day – so it’s not a residual thing.

Time to get real

One burger won’t make you fat. Twenty burgers might.

But it’s not the burger people forcing them on you is it? It’s you, ordering however many you’re lusting after.

Of your own free will. It’s you eating them too. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head.

So why are you fat?

You never used to be like this. Always ate responsibly, good balanced meals. Stayed off the fast food too. A burger maybe once a blue moon. So how come this sudden ballooning up to Size 18?

Yes, you are what you eat, but most of the time it’s salad. Cottage cheese maybe, dry bread crackers. Where’s the fatness in that? It’s not fair, your body’s not meant to be like this. Someone has to pay.

Hold that thought – your body’s not meant to be like this.

No it isn’t. But it’s not the burger people’s fault.

Nor is it yours.

Nor is it any of the two-thirds adult population of Britain who are reluctantly becoming overweight, hating every second of their unwanted, unjustified and entirely blameless obesity.

Blameless?

But aren’t those people fat because they eat too much? Pigging out on junk food all the time, no self control, careless people who let themselves go?

Not like you at all.

The unexpected truth

Actually, exactly like you. And yes, entirely blameless.

It’s perfectly true most of them eat too much. You may well find your own body dragging you that way soon enough. You eat like a bird now, but the terrible cravings will come and your system will demand it. Power up for a big effort ahead, rest ready for the big push.

Except the effort never comes and the lazing around becomes indulgent. Overnight you’re a couch potato.

NO!

No wonder you feel like suing. And maybe you should. Because SOMETHING has made you fat, you were never this way before. Somebody ought to pay.

Might be difficult to make it stick though. Because the SOMETHING that’s made you fat is antibiotics. Not the stuff you get from the Doc, though that could have triggered the start of it all.

Unseen growth promoters

We’re talking the stuff you unknowingly eat every day, contained within your ordinary meals – the background antibiotics present in nearly all farm-produced foods – regularly fed to livestock as a prophylactic to stop them getting ill, but really shovelled in because they’re proven growth promoters.

You’re getting fat from the same source that fattens up farm animals for market. From the manure they produce that’s used  to grow everything else – fruit, vegetables, grain crops, animal feed – laced through with growth-boosting antibiotics, without the farmer or anyone else knowing a thing about it.

The antibiotics mess with your gut bacteria, upsetting the fine balance that controls digestion, your immune system and yes, hunger control.

When you’re hungry, your bacteria produce ghrelin, a hormone that tells the brain it’s time to eat, the tank is empty. When you’re full they produce leptin, which says that’s enough, stop, the tank is full.

Hunger Glitch

 

Trouble is, with constant exposure to antibiotics, your system becomes resistant to leptin causing the brain to ignore the STOP signals. The ghrelin hunger signal is still loud and clear, causing you to crave food – high octane stuff that can fill you up, the sooner the better.

Fast food junkies

Which is where the addiction to fast food comes from. Not junk food at all, the body knows it’s the fastest way to to get high powered energy. But eat all that stuff when there’s no real demand and that power has got to go somewhere.

You bulk up, not meaning to, and hate yourself doing it – “junk food” is your way of showing it contempt. But to a starving child a Big Mac is a nutritious bonanza, the quickest way back to healthy living again.

OK, so who are you going to sue? You bought food in good faith, thinking it was healthy, unaware it was loaded with antibiotics. Maybe you should sue the supermarkets.

Except wait a minute, they can’t afford people like you raising health issues – and they probably don’t know either. They bought from suppliers in good faith that their produce was healthy. Look how quickly they whip things off the shelves if there’s the slightest alarm – products recalled for impurities, contamination, deterioration, insecure packaging. They should sue their suppliers.

It’s always the poor farmer that gets it in the neck isn’t it? Yes, he uses antibiotics – and has to account for them meticulously with every animal he sells. Has to keep records that prove antibiotics were withdrawn from diet for a safe period before sale. He uses them in good faith that they’re safe. He should sue the manufacturers.

How far do you take this? The manufacturer sells antibiotics in good faith that they will be used properly and responsibly – world demand is currently anywhere between 63,000 tonnes and 240,000 tonnes. There are hungry people to feed, how can they be culpable? It’s the politicians who are responsible, sue them.

Yeah, right. Sue politicians. Like when is that ever going to work? Best you can do is vote them out – then get down to the gym and switch to salad. Yeah, you’re fat and it’s not your fault, but it’s unlikely you’ll nail anyone for criminal negligence.

At least you know sweat will work – no pain, no gain. And you won’t be fat any more.

Good luck, we’re on the treadmill next to you.

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Vital wake-up call behind this year’s flu-jab flop

Ready for injection
So what’s our Plan B when the medicines don’t work?

It’s not just vital, it’s absolutely crucial. A just-in-time reminder that both viruses and bacteria are living things, exactly like us.

More to the point, they are the most successful life-forms on the planet since the dawn of time. Survivors that adapt and change to suit conditions around them. Mutating to something entirely new in just minutes

Anatomy of a disaster

Which is why the flu-jab went wrong.

Every year, the most dangerous and virulent flu viruses mutate into a new strain. Every year, medical experts develop a new vaccine to clobber them. A moving target, because the viruses keep mutating all the time. So researchers have to predict which way they will develop before they actually do. Then work like mad to produce an effective serum before the opportunity passes.

Sometimes they guess right, sometimes they don’t. The viruses zig when they were expected to zag – sending that year’s protection plans down the drain.

Guess and super-guess

Which is what happened this winter. The A(H3N2) flu strain used to make the vaccine became sidelined when the main H3 virus developed in another direction. Result, 28,189 more deaths than the previous year – and a whole witch hunt about who is responsible and why.

Except nobody’s learning, are they?

Nobody is heeding the vital message – that viruses and bacteria mutate. That no matter how damn good we think we are, these small organisms – too tiny for the eye to see – can and will mutate into new forms impervious to whatever we throw at them.

Immune to antibiotics, immune to vaccines, immune to anything any health spokesperson might say, no matter how good they look on television.

Smart bugs

Time get real.

Because it’s not just the flu-jab that’s failed, it’s a lot of other meds besides. That have failed, or are going to fail, however we try to second-guess them.

Already there’s a whole slew of antibiotics that don’t work – vital drugs that could once save our lives from anything – now not even worth their weight in second-hand toffee paper.

For instance penicillin, the original wonder cure, was discovered in 1928, but resistant staph started emerging in 1940. Same story with erythromycin, launched in 1953 – with resistant strep occurring in 1968. Or methicillin, launched in 1960 with the dreaded tyrannosaurus rex MRSA rearing its head from 1962.

Bacteria have plenty of time, they can wait.

Which means we’re possibly only months away from total antibiotics failure altogether – slightly more significant than a flu-jab that doesn’t work.

But don’t take our word for it, no less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, identifies it as a threat on par with terrorism. Absolutely vital.

Microbial exit strategy

OK, so the flu-jab is a flop. Yet it shows us an out, even though it’s useless.

Because if we know the flu is coming but we have no defence, we still ought to be smart enough to avoid it. Same with any other bug, come to that – norovirus, Black Death, typhoid, Ebola.

AVOID, AVOID, AVOID. Vital self-protection.

Step One, wash hands – before and after any activity. Our fingers touch everything, often in quick succession – from filthy public loo because it’s an emergency – to Welsh Wagyu burger with onions and extra Stilton – because use a knife and fork and it will fall apart. How do you think norovirus happens?

Step Two, get rid of the germs around us. They’re always there, billions and billions of them – on every surface, in the air – we’re continually exposed, all the time.

But not if the place is sterilised. Not if the rooms we live in are sterilised free from germs before we enter. No viruses, no bacteria – zero opportunity for infection or disease.

All it takes is forty-odd minutes with a Hypersteriliser the night before. Misting up offices, classrooms, restaurants, waiting areas – everywhere with super-dry ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged to reach into every crack and crevice, actively grabbing at germs and destroying their cell structure.

Safe and secure

No germs, no problem, problem solved.

Which works for flu as well as any other bugs that might threaten us. No need for the jab, we’re safe.

We just have to wake up first.

Rediscover hygiene, or take our chances.

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Germs all around us – how safe are we really?

Worried about germs
Believe it or not, most bacteria are benign – they can only hurt you when they’re in the wrong place

How safe you are depends on you.

We’re all different – with different bodies, different strengths, different weaknesses. We all react differently to the world around us. We all have different luck.

We look after ourselves differently too. Some of us are OCD about cleanliness and health – Michael Jackson famously slept in an oxygen chamber.

Some of us are so lax, our hygiene is really logiene – we’re border-line stinky bad.

We’re bad

Not surprising when you look at the facts – it’s a wonder we’re not sick all the time.

Scary when you realise how germs really are all around us – and how at risk we are in very ordinary situations.

  • Office desks often harbour 10 million germs or more.
  • Keyboards on smartphones and tablets are riddled with more bacteria than toilet seats.
  • Most kitchens, particularly sinks, are alive with all kinds of invisible and harmful germs.

It’s not just germs on surfaces either. Every single one of us has our own cloud of germs we carry around with us – our own microbial signature, more unique and accurate than any fingerprint or retinal scan.

Always under threat

So why aren’t we dead?

Good question, because those germs certainly have a good go at us. Which is why so many of us keep getting ill all the time – down with e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, colds and flu – and most often norovirus. And why sick days cost the country £29 billion a year.

Only our immune systems keep us going. Protecting us from infection, defending us from harmful viruses and bacteria, keeping us safe.

Which is weird when you think about it, because our immune systems are largely controlled by the 100 trillion or more bacteria that live in our gut – our own microbiota. Don’t worry, they’re supposed to be there – in fact 90% of the substance we’re made of is actually bacteria more than human. Our own “good guy” germs inside – to protect us from the “bad guy” germs outside.

All hunky dory, except we’re not very good at keeping our own “good guys” safe. With our sloppy hygiene habits, we give the “bad guys” more of a chance – collecting them mostly on our hands from the dirty air and surfaces around us, then transferring them to the sensitive tissue around our eyes and mouth – most germs’ favourite way into the body.

Uh huh. And when we get sick?

Killer lifesavers

Run to the Doc for antibiotics, right? Our miracle wonder-drugs to get us out of trouble.

Once upon a time, yes. But not now.

Increasingly, doctors are finding that the bacteria causing the illness they’re treating us for are becoming resistant – the drugs just don’t work any more.

That’s not exactly surprising either, antibiotics have become so over-used and abused that 10 million prescriptions a year are written unnecessarily – for colds or sore throats, which antibiotics can’t cure anyway.

Worse still, antibiotics are shovelled into animals for food production at the rate of 65,000 tonnes a year – because of the amazing side effect that they make things grow bigger and faster – making everyone loads more money.

All of which gives bacteria plenty of opportunity to develop immunities – which as one of the oldest life forms on Earth they’ve been doing successfully for millions of years. However potent the antibiotic we develop is, sooner or later bacteria will always find a way to mutate around it. Usually sooner, they can reproduce in as little as twenty minutes.

Just check their track record. Against penicillin, discovered in 1928 with resistant staph emerging in in 1940; tetracycline, introduced in 1950 with resistant shigella in 1959; erythromycin, launched in 1953 with resistant strep occurring in 1968; methicillin in 1960 with resistance in 1962; levofloxacin in 1996 with resistance in the same year; linezolid in 2000 and resistance 2001; daptomycin in 2003 and resistance in 2004.

We are what we eat

Oh yeah, and the other thing is, we’re all of ingesting small amounts of antibiotics all the time. They’re stuffed into animals, so we gobble them up too – either directly from the meat, or indirectly, through the antibiotics-laden manure that’s used to grow fruit, veg and grain – and of course feedstuffs for other animals.

And antibiotics work by killing bacteria – including our own gut bacteria until they develop immunity. Which means our own immune systems are constantly under attack, by the very wonder drugs that are supposed to be saving our lives. Either as medicine or as food, our poor gut bacteria face constant assault from which they never fully recover.

Which means from generation to generation, we’re not as resilient as we used to be. Weaker, less able to stand up to threatening infections. And fatter – antibiotics boost animal growth, remember? So two thirds of adults and one third of children are all increasingly obese. All in an environment where our wonder-drugs don’t work.

Get the message? We’re not as safe as we think we are.

Playing it safe

UNLESS we make a point of keeping our hands clean at all times – particularly before food and after going to the loo.

AND if we keep our surroundings germ-free too – our homes, workplaces, schools, public buildings, everywhere.

Easy enough with Hypersterilisers – which mist up the air after hours with ionised hydrogen peroxide – ensuring that every morning when we come in, the place is safe and sterile.

NO viruses or bacteria anywhere. Except outside where they should be.

Safe from our “good guys” inside, where they should be.

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Our obesity war – what THEY’RE not telling us

Obesity victim
Diets help, but not enough – so does exercise – but no-one ever admits why you’re fat in the first place

THEY’RE worried. THEY’RE scared. THEY’RE also in denial.

Because THEY know exactly why we’re fat and getting fatter.  Only THEY don’t make the connection. It’s not directly in THEIR field. Therefore it’s off the radar. A fringe issue.

The inconvenient truth

OK, so try this.

Every day we’re in the cross-hairs of the world’s most efficient and No 1 growth booster. Every meal, every mouthful, exposes us more – and this has been happening for more than 50 years.

This growth booster does two things.

The first is, it makes us eat as much as we can and no stopping. Go for the power foods, the ones that give us instant charge and power – quick grab, go, go, go.

The second is, it makes us conserve all the energy we get. Avoid running round burning it all off again, keep calm, relax and chill.

Food production phenomenon

Put both of these together and growth accelerates four times, five times, ten.  Just like it does on the farm. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

Yup, it’s the growth boosters they use in food production that are making us bulk up, the CAUSE of our obesity epidemic.

Quite right, we eat too much and don’t take enough exercise and that makes us pile on the pounds.

But we never think what MAKES us do it. Just try to come up with answers – all of them half-baked and doomed to failure.

Diets, gastric bands, punishment sessions in the gym – they’re all useless until we plug the source of these high powered growth boosters.

UNTIL OUR PHANTOM HUNGER IS SWITCHED OFF.

Because we eat to satisfy a hunger that isn’t really there. Constantly goaded by our continual ingestion of antibiotics.

Not what the doctor ordered

Not on antibiotics right now?

Oh yes, you are. All of us are.

But we’re all different, so they affect us in different ways. Some of us get fat faster than others. But we’re ALL of us putting on inches.

Since the 1970s, every person in Britain has roughly gained more than three pounds (1.5kg) per decade – that’s twelve pounds (6kg), a third of your baggage allowance on EasyJet.

Not surprising. World use of antibiotics in agriculture is currently around 65,000 tonnes if you believe official reports. Even higher if you probe deeper.

China for instance, acknowledges its overall consumption at 162,000 tonnes – “almost half of world usage” – which means that internationally we’re galloping through around 324,000 tonnes a year.

So where does all this stuff go?

Let’s leave out medical uses for the moment, they’re already a headache with something like one-third prescribed for unnecessary situations. Chickenfeed on farms – and we mean that literally.

Super-beef, super-chicken, super-salad

Pumping antibiotics into animals means farmers can produce market-ready products that are bigger, better and faster than ever before. Compared with the 1950s, a super-duper enlarged output big enough to feed 7½ billion people off the SAME land, 5 billion more than back then. Beef, dairy, poultry, mutton, fish, veg and grain crops – everything in the food spectrum is on turbo from antibiotics.

Yes, the stuff accelerates growth, but not all of it goes in and stays there – no animal absorbs everything it eats. Per Nature’s grand plan that everything is interrelated, the average cow excretes anything from 80-90% of the feedstuff it chows down, nutrients for plants and other animals that feed on them.  Other types of animal are the same – and even our own poo is full of nutrients, prized in China as the best there is.

Result, there’s antibiotics in the soil that grows everything, antibiotics in the waste water run-off, antibiotics in our streams and river systems, antibiotics in our drinking water. Everything on your supermarket shelves is laced with them – and THEY don’t know or pretend not to.

Head in the sand tactics

Obvious though it is, the penny never drops. Not among retailers, or farmers, or doctors, or government, or manufacturers. They all know antibiotics are a super growth booster – and they all know we’re riding the tsunami of a worldwide obesity epidemic. Yet all they’re worried about is antibiotic resistance – that these miracle drugs are beginning not to work as lifesaver any more.

Lifesavers! These things are killing us!

That’s how they work, by the way. By killing bacteria. Killing whatever bacteria might be making us ill – and killing several million of our vital gut bacteria at the same time – the ones that process our digestion, produce our proteins and control our immune systems.

Which is why our immune systems don’t work as well as they used to.  Why we’re less resistant to colds and flu like back in the 60s. Why we’ve got phantom illnesses we never used to have in the form of allergies. And why we’re getting fatter and fatter – on our way to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma – whichever slow-burn killer our own particular metabolism is most vulnerable to.

Big train smash coming

Because antibiotics have become so big, they’re a train we cannot get off. Pull the plug on farming and we go back to food production levels of the 50s – 5 billion people with nothing to eat. Pull the plug in medicine and we’re back to the Dark Ages. No more heart bypasses or hip replacements – infection is either avoided by washing beforehand, or cut away from the suffering body with scalpels.

Not the end of the world, but a pretty devastating substitute. No wonder THEY’RE not telling us. Though if it’s any consolation, you have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s happening to THEM too. THEY’RE getting fat like you, THEY’RE on the same train.

Watch this space, there are ways to jump off – and we will bring them to you.

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Would your staff sue you if they caught the flu?

Work Team
Healthy staff and a healthy balance sheet – protecting your assets

Sue? For flu?

We’re joking, right? They get flu, that’s their problem.

Except maybe you want to revise that. Because wasn’t it your idea that everyone had the flu jab in the first place? So you already had concerns about keeping them healthy.

Sod’s Law

Yeah but, if they’ve had the flu jab, you’ve done your bit. It’s not your fault this year’s vaccine doesn’t work so well. Too many different strains – the medics can’t always get it right.

Sure, but it’s still a worry. You can’t run a business with loads of empty desks. Which is what you get when flu strikes. Never a single hit, eh? Always a whole squad of people down at once – usually at the most critical moment. An evil kink in Sod’s Law.

It’s your duty of care too. So that working conditions are safe and secure. Which often means issues you never thought of five years ago now have to be addressed.

They sure cost a bob or two. HVAC systems don’t come cheap, but they keep staff motivated and comfortable, working in their shirtsleeves. Or how about anti-terrorism? Coded pass cards, keypad entry, bullet-proof glass, ex-SAS guards – it takes a lot to protect people.

You bend over backwards for them, how could they possibly sue you for flu?

Protection from themselves

Yeah well, increasingly people need protecting from themselves. More specifically, from each other.

Like flu. One of them catches a bug, they give it to each other. It happens, they’ve all had the jab, a few days and it’s over, so what? Another inconvenience on top of all the others.

But what if it was more serious? Like one of them does a sales trip to Africa and comes back with cholera? Or typhoid? Or worst case scenario, Ebola? Round the office with any of those would land you in big trouble, possibly even criminal negligence, so where do you draw the line?

An iffy question. And these days, getting iffier.

You may have read somewhere that office desks are a breeding place for anything up to 10 million germs. Sure, you have the regular cleaning services, but most of these breeding places never get touched by typical valeting, so the germs continue unchecked. Noxious germs in the workplace, you could be liable.

It gets worse when you consider staff hygiene – no, not anything you’ve done – their normal day-to-day behaviour. A quick look at the figures is shocking:

OK, so dirty desks, unwashed hands, somebody comes in with Ebola (which they’ve no idea they’ve got ‘cos it can take weeks to show) – big trouble, right? Law suits almost certainly, failure to protect, not a headache anyone wants.

Due diligence

So what makes flu so different? Can you prove due diligence that staff were not exposed to contagious pathogens? More to the point, can you prove that you did everything you could to prevent possible infection? Especially the air space, which is 80% of any room – remember germs are microscopic so they’re up there anyway, brought in by the personal cloud of them we all walk around with.

Which means a nightly wipe-down with a damp cloth is not enough is it? Or vacuuming the floors and emptying the waste paper baskets. Like it or not, your workplace is probably teeming with germs just waiting to cause an illness.

The only reason they don’t is that most of the time staff are healthy enough for their immune systems to prevent it. But that doesn’t include tiredness, stress, or any of the other everyday challenges of working life. It’s only a matter of time – and yes, you could be liable.

Because it IS possible to neutralise all germs in your workplace inexpensively. Certainly for less than the cost of an HVAC system or putting in full security.

Total sterility

Wheel in a Hypersteriliser at the end of the day when staff have gone home, and germs can be eliminated altogether.  It generates an ultra-fine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere, destroying viruses and bacteria on contact, sterilising the entire room. Forty minutes or so and all germs are gone – flu, common illnesses, tummy bugs, even Ebola.

Staff of course you can issue with antibacterial wipes or gel – put a pack daily on each desk and you’re in the clear. So is the air and every surface in your workplace, a fresh page to start the day, free of any health hazards.

No law suits likely after that.

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Nice one Westminster! Now ban sugar outright and we’ll get even fatter

Big and blindfolded
Blind and in denial –
to what’s REALLY making us fat

Here we go, another parliamentary sidestep. Sugar taxed. Job done. No more obesity.

If only. Note that nobody’s singing, especially the fat ladies.

Badder than bad

Because parliament doesn’t have a clue what happens next, does it? The ultimate can of worms. Worse than terrorism, the migrant crisis, climate change and World War III combined.

Of course current members will be out of office when it happens, out to retirement too, probably. But they’re always going to know it started on their watch – the day they voted for sugary drinks to be taxed as the curb against obesity.

Fat chance – even though yes, we do guzzle too many gallons of fizzy-pop.

You won’t see fewer fat people though, despite Coke sales taking a dip. Because MPs haven’t clobbered WHY people chug so much – and WHY they gorge themselves on power foods too.

None so blind

They haven’t addressed the cause, so people will just keep getting fatter. Bigger and bigger, more and more – way beyond the two-thirds of us who are overweight or obese already. Probably including themselves, even though they never touch the stuff – unless you include tonic water.

Yeah, yeah – too many sugary drinks make people bulk up, especially kids. They have the taste, they crave the stuff. Yet nobody twigs that such craving is not natural, that something is wrong if their bodies demand hit after hit of sugary reward they don’t actually need.

They don’t need the power food they hanker for either, do they? What you call “junk food”. Some junk – there’s instant energy in them, that’s why they’re popular. And they’re only unhealthy if you eat too much of them. If you glutton and have two. Even Jamie Oliver sells superburgers.

See it’s not sugary drinks that make people fat – one Coke didn’t swell you up in 1966, it doesn’t swell you up now. But too many sugary drinks. Too many burgers. Too many chips. Yeah sure, it’s the road to fat-dom.

Except everybody’s so busy scoring headlines that nobody asks why.

WHY IS THE SWITCH THAT STOPS BINGE EATING BROKEN?

Time to get real

Simples. All the food we’ve been chowing down over the last twenty years – meat and veg both – is shot through and through with every farmer’s No 1 growth booster.

The binge switch is busted by antibiotics.

Check the facts – antibiotics have been used on farms in industrial quantities for the last fifty years. Right now, today, the world uses 65,000 tonnes a year. Which is how come there’s enough food for the 7½ billion people we are today – from the same land resource that could only feed 2½ billion of us back in 1952.

We’re bulking up from the super-fatteners in our food – and no wonder.  From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. That’s the power of antibiotics.

OK, so tax sugary drinks double. Tax them to hell and gone off the market – we’ll still get fat. Because the super-fatteners we eat every day have jammed the binge control wide open – so it’s not just sugary drinks we’re pigging out on, it’s everything.

Two full-size helpings at dinner, double pudding – chips, snacks, chocolate bars, the works. And then we sit down to watch our favourite Great British Sugar Factor on TV – binge food before the watershed.

So who’s in charge?

But hold it, antibiotics – shouldn’t these be controlled by the medics?

In a word, yes. But these days any Tom, Dick or Hans-Gustav can shovel pretty much as many antibiotics into his cows as he likes and no-one will say them nay – not Public Health England, not DEFRA, not the Food Standards Agency, nobody.

And certainly not the General Medical Council – they’ve got their hands full worrying about antibiotics in medicine. About how they’re not working thanks to the snowballing number of superbugs with antibiotic resistance. About how any day now, our life-saving miracle drugs won’t work any more.

Which puts them in a nasty Catch 22 – no heart bypass or hip replacement – no life-changing wonder surgery – is possible without antibiotics. But superbugs like MRSA are increasingly immune. They know they’ve got to stop prescribing antibiotics, but also know they can’t.

Until the day finally comes when they achieve zero. When the only defence against infection will be how clean and free of germs we can keep ourselves. And cutting away infection – amputating – any part of us that becomes infected, because there is no other way.

Uh huh. Meantime, we’re still chowing down antibiotics with every meal we eat. And those antibiotics, like they’re supposed to, kill more and more of our gut bacteria every time. The same gut bacteria that control our immune system and directly manipulate so many other vital body functions.

Until inevitably, our surviving bacteria become resistant to antibiotics themselves. So that whatever drugs we’re prescribed have no chance of working anyway.

Fatter and fatter

And all the time, we’re getting fatter and fatter and fatter. To the point where governments realise we can’t go on and antibiotics are finally withdrawn from agriculture altogether. No more fatteners, people might stand a better chance.

As if. Because the damage has been done.

By that time most of us will be seriously obese  – well in the grip of terminal illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a zillion others resulting from immune system meltdown.

Which is when the food chain will conk out. Not enough quick-grow animals to supply world hunger. Not enough health protection against the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of intense factory farms. Too much for the system. The world goes back to pre-antibiotic methods, like in 1952.

Oops. A food shortfall for 5 billion people. World-wide famine and disease. See how misplaced a sugar tax really is? How totally irrelevant and off-target? The headache is solving the antibiotics crisis, not pushing up the price of Coke. Like we said, nice one Westminster.

Which leaves it up to us if we’re going to survive. We ourselves, and the heck with the politicians.

With the old one-two. Hiked up hygiene standards in everything we do, always washing our hands, cleaning things. And taking out germs around us wherever we can, sterilising the place everywhere we gather. At work, in schools, in restaurants, at home – eliminating harmful pathogens down to nothing.

The first takes soap and water, every chance we get – always before food, and always after the loo.

The second takes a Hypersteriliser, misting up living spaces when we’re not there, eliminating germs with ionised hydrogen peroxide. If the rooms we live in are sterile, nothing can touch us.

Better shift to organic foods while we’re at it too. The Heathrow runway’s taken more than twenty years – how long will it be before Westminster finally takes action on antibiotics?

A bitter pill to swallow, eh? Maybe a spoonful of sugar will help.

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Vomit at the office: who’s liable – and what for?

One sick lady
Not nice, ever. Not nice knowing you probably caused it either

Oh no! Vomit at the office. Professional cool and polish, gone in an instant. Feeling awful – and degraded – the end of the world.

Not your fault though, right? You couldn’t help it. One minute OK, the next…

Except the inconvenient truth is, it probably WAS your fault. Not deliberate or anything like that, but highly likely it was CAUSED by you.

We’re ALL bad

Now don’t feel bad, we’re all probably just as guilty. Because nine times out of ten your unfortunate experience is not caused by something you ate. More than likely it was from something you swallowed after touching it by hand.

Easily done – that hasty pastry gulped down with your flat white before the all-important 9.00 meeting. Eaten with your fingers, right? You had to lick the icing off afterwards. Four or five hours for the stuff to get down to your gut and react with your internal bacteria…

Excuse me, I don’t feel so good.

Upchuck all over the conference room floor.

The blame game

So how is it your fault? You didn’t do anything. That horrible heave-ho came out of nowhere.

Ah, that’s just the point. You didn’t do anything. And that’s why the rest of us are probably just as guilty. Because the one thing we’re always NOT doing though we know we should, is wash our hands.

Especially after going to the loo and before eating food. Yes, it’s shocking, but 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Worse, 95% of people don’t ever take the time to wash their hands properly.

And just so you can recognise how easily your awful experience happened to you, only 12% of people ever wash their hands before eating.

Which means…

You can see it can’t you? Running late because the tubes were crowded and you couldn’t get on. Mad dash to the office via the coffee shop. Quick detour to the loo and check make-up. Gulp coffee and pastry – you burnt your mouth remember? Grab your laptop and go. 30 seconds to spare and your presentation was on first. No time to wash your hands – you just got unlucky.

Because most of the time we get away with it. This time, you just got caught.

Noro nasty

Better hope it’s not norovirus though – or any of the other real nasties. Four, five hours? It usually takes longer, more like eight. And it won’t be just your fault you made yourself sick – you could bring the whole office down.

You see, norovirus is highly contagious and gruesomely efficient. That’s why it spreads so explosively – the world record for long distance vomit – and don’t even think about the diarrhoea.

OK, so you slink home in a taxi, new silk blouse and your jacket ruined, icky vomit all through your hair. So what happens with the clean up?

Yeah well, it’s one of those accidents nobody is prepared for. Paper towels and dishwashing liquid in the kitchen, bleach if they’re lucky. Wrinkled noses and pulled faces attacking the patch on the carpet. Hopefully the night cleaning crew will fix it when they swamp out in the evening.

Except they won’t be prepared either, norovirus is smarter than that. Shampoo the wet patch, OK. Vomit gone.

And the rest of the room around that? The chair legs? The conference table? The air itself? Norovirus particles are as small as 2 microns, too small to see, finer than cigarette smoke – so they could be floating around for anything up to a week.

Everybody gets it, easy

All it takes is 10 particles, on somebody’s cheek, scraped together as they rub their eye, into the soft tissue round the cornea – next victim, prepped and ready. Picked up by others too – off the conference table, the door handle, the light switch – half a dozen targets.

They go to their desks, wake up their computers. Norovirus on the keyboards, the desk phone, the meeting minutes they circulate to their colleagues.

Tomorrow morning, a dozen staff calling sickies – with more to come because the germs are still in the air, still on all the high-touch areas not processed by the swamp-out team. The whole office down – vomit, cramps, diarrhoea, the works.

Your fault. You could get sued.

Well, yes. To begin with.

But also the company’s.

They have a duty of care to ensure the workplace is safe to work in – the floors are solid, the place doesn’t leak, there’s no mould, or drafts, or rats running around, and you don’t shock yourself half to death flipping the light switches.

And there’s no germs.

How safe is safe?

For instance if legionnaire’s disease was lurking in the air conditioning ducts you’d quite rightly be able to sue them for not providing a safe and secure hazard-free place to work. They’d have to compensate you AND pay to have the condition fixed – possibly even face criminal charges.

Norovirus is no different – and way more common than legionnaire’s disease – more common even than flu or the common cold.

Your company might shrug it off and say it’s not their problem – but keeping desks, chairs, computers, carpets, curtains and the air itself safe from germs is just as much part of their duty of care as making sure none of you freeze to death in winter.

You started it. But everybody else came down with the bug because of them.

You didn’t wash your hands. They didn’t ensure the place was germ-free afterwards. And most of the time everyone just accepts it’s just one of those things. You failed in your duty to yourself and your colleagues. They failed in their duty of care to all of you.

Yet it’s so easily fixable. And just maybe all of you are negligent in not knowing that it is.

Hygiene defence

Your personal upchuck could have been prevented by soap and water. Or your company could have been smart and put a pack of antibacterial wipes or hand gel on everybody’s desk – because they know that staff are busy and frequently forget to wash their hands – and even though it gets wiped off every night, everybody’s workstation is a major source of hazardous germs.

No, it won’t work with heavy bleach and more elbow grease, rubbing and scrubbing. The smell will be unbearable and the airborne germs will remain untouched. Steam cleaning won’t work either – germs need very high temperatures and at least five minutes contact time to be destroyed – not possible hose-piping around so that everything is wet – ineffective against airborne germs too.

More effective and far cheaper is to eliminate germs with a Hypersteriliser.

After the usual cleaning, a wheel-bin-sized unit is rolled in to mist up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged, microscopic particles of hydrogen peroxide actively clamour to get away from each other, spreading everywhere, forcing themselves into every crack and crevice to escape.

That same electrostatic charge causes them to reach out and grab at viruses and bacteria everywhere – on surfaces, under them, behind things, in the air itself. Contact time is only seconds, during which the germs’ cell structure and DNA is completely destroyed.

Sterile and safe

Allow forty minutes to process the entire room and the whole place is sterilised – no germs, no nothing – safe. No law suits either, or anyone suffering upchucks. Unless they forgot to wash their hands before climbing into lunch – or there really is something off with their chicken liver pâté – not cooked enough, perhaps.

Feel better? If it’s any consolation, norovirus only lasts two or three days – unpleasant yes, but it does come to an end.

Then you can wash your hands of the whole thing.

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OK wise guys, how soon before the Sugar Tax actually kills somebody?

Mine mine mine
OK, so you tax sugar and people still get fat – now what?

Bet you thought you had it sorted, hey? Wise guys for sure.

The obesity crisis done and dusted. You’re all heroes, collect your medals, put your statue in the High Street.

Going to look a right bunch of Charlies when the mortality figures don’t come down, aren’t you?

Fatheads or what?

Two thirds of adults are currently overweight or obese, one third of children 6 – 19 are currently overweight or obese – and figures are still rocketing for both.

Oh yeah, you’re going to say, sedentary lifestyle, junk food diets – put a tax on burgers and pizzas, tax cars and buses to make people walk. Wise guys all, with an answer for everything.

And when the numbers keep rocketing after that?

Ooh er , we need more research. Got to find an answer somewhere.

Uh huh. How about what’s staring you in the face?

None so blind

Like we weren’t so fat in the 1960s, were we? Back then your average bloke weighed in at 10.2 stone (65kg) and your average blokess at 8.7 stone (55kg). Today they’re tipping the scales at 13.2 stone (83.6kg) and 11.1 stone (70.2kg) respectively. 20% more in 50 years.

And guess what? They had Coke back then too. And Irn-Bru and Lucozade. No sugar tax though – it wasn’t necessary. Wise guys.

They had burgers too – two bob each, with double-thick milkshakes for two-and-three (that’s in grandpa’s old money) from Wimpy bars,  named after J. Wellington Wimpy in Popeye the Sailor Man cartoons showing at the local bughouse – the original health propaganda for kids, trying to get them to eat spinach.

Enter, the beast

Oh and yeah, that was when they introduced antibiotics – as GROWTH PROMOTERS on the farm.

Bingo! A total money-making revolution.

From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. So amazingly successful that world farmers are now using 65,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year – a guaranteed super-fattener that works on plants too.

Super double jackpot!

Which is why there are guaranteed super-fatteners in all the food you buy at the supermarket – your meat, your poultry, your dairy, your veg, your cereals, the works. Added to animal feed on the farm, or laced through animal waste manure used to enrich the soil for plant crops.

OK, so even if we stop taking sugar altogether, our kids are still going to get fat – jump started by MEDICAL antibiotics we give them through infancy – and topped up every with every meal they eat, more, more, more.

Get the picture, wise guys?

The animals get fat, so we get fat too.

Bodies out of balance

Anyway, sugar actually does nothing if our bodies are normal, balanced and healthy – not stampeded by unstoppable cravings for sweet things and power foods – and not driven by antibiotic damage to our gut bacteria so we never know when we’ve had enough.

Which means unless we dump antibiotics altogether, obesity is going to snowball. More people at risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma – all the slow killers. We turn our backs on the problem with a sugar tax – and then wonder why we keep dying.

Plus it’s not just our appetite control that antibiotics destroy. Increasingly, it’s our whole immune system.

Ironic, huh? We take these things as miracle drugs to make us well – and they rip our gut bacteria apart to do it. That’s because they kill bacteria in order to work. Not just the bad ones making us ill, the good ones as well.

Except we NEED these bacteria for our bodies to keep going. They’re 90% of who we are – and everything we eat is ripping them apart.

Some of the rarer ones, our special immunity against infections we haven’t even had yet, might be annihilated altogether – our bodies never restore to exactly how they were. Our children inherit fewer immunities to pass onto their kids, just as we lose immunities acquired from our mothers at birth – even less if we are born by caesarean section.

Slightly more serious that taxing sugar, hey wise guys?

More at hazard

Because it means that from generation to generation our immune systems get weaker – we’re increasingly more vulnerable to infection and disease. And the very antibiotics we might use to save ourselves are either resisted by bacteria that have mutated new defences against them, or continually savaging our remaining gut bacteria to make us even weaker.

Job not done, wise guys. Job screwed.

The real issue is not to chop sugar – it’s to chop antibiotics. Totally.

In the meantime we have to survive.

Since we’re increasingly defenceless, we’re more likely to pick up germs from things we touch and live with. Hand hygiene is no longer just necessary, it’s a life saver. Fail to wash your hands before a meal or after the loo and it could be the death of you. Because – you guessed it, you can’t rely on antibiotics to rescue you.

And how about the things we touch and live with? Leave them be and we’re still at risk. Which makes it increasingly critical to sterilise our surroundings. Not just clean and disinfect – sterilise. And not just surfaces either – every nook and cranny, even the air itself, the only way to make the rooms we work, eat and sleep in absolutely safe.

Which means increasingly we’re going to need Hypersterilisers – those nifty wheelie-bin-sized machines that you trundle in and mist the place up with a safe, dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide, destroying all viruses and bacteria – the harmful ones outside our bodies, not our vital interior friends – down to zero in around 40 minutes.

Do all that and we’re a step closer to being sorted – chop antibiotics, ramp up serious hygiene. Then we can all be wise guys. No dead bodies – and an even chance of a ripe old age.

Sugar tax? Don’t hold your breath.

And with that, it’s time for a Coke. Reckon we’ll make that Coke Zero.

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Sugar tax, yay! Now let’s watch obesity accelerate

Overweight and pigging out
Think fat people WANT to be fat?
Hey Jamie, wait till you’re a Size 18 too.

Congratulations Jamie, congratulations all, sugar tax is going to happen.

All those nasty drinks that everyone hates so much are going to go up in price, people will a stop buying, everyone will get thinner, yay!

As if.

Just like cigarettes

Exactly like they did when a packet of fags cost 7/6 in old money – £10 and more now, more than 25 times times the price. Because smoking is BAD, yeah? So look at the keep-fit celebs secretly puffing away to maintain that super-trim bod. Are we back to the dark days of using cigarettes to reduce weight?

Yeah, but sugar tax works. Look at Mexico. The sugar tax there cut sales by 12%.

Like wow.

Cut SALES by 12%, NOT obesity. Seriously clever.

The highest rate of overweight people in the world and an estimated 10 million with diabetes. Sugary drinks BAD. But nobody ever asks WHY so many people are drinking the stuff.

Muddied waters

Know much about Mexico? A hot country, right? A lot of it desert, or semi-desert. Dry, dry, dry – the definition of arid. Tropical temperatures. Not a place to get thirsty. Keep yourself properly hydrated, or die.

Ah yes, and how about the water? Until a few years ago, to be avoided like the plague. Full of noxious organisms and bugs – instant illness. As the Kingston Trio sang in Coplas back in 1958 – tell your parents not to muddy the water around us, they may have to drink it soon.

OK, so they chlorinated it – heavily. So if the pipes aren’t too rusty, maybe you can drink it – if you can stand the taste. Oh, and the local bottled water tends to be ropey too.

Hmm, so a lot of Mexicans reckon it’s safer to drink Coke. The Coca Cola Company has a lot to lose – and it’s easier trust a big Americano company with something when you take the cap off yourself.

So you’re Mexican, you drink Coke and you’re fat. Never touch the water. But you’re not writhing on the ground with stomach cramps – and better believe it, try a hot taco with enchilada sauce you’ll know that Mexicans have cast-iron stomachs.

And they’re obese anyway, including those who don’t drink Coke. But they’re not stupid either, they know the sugar connection. So aside from the big thirst of a dry country, WHY do their bodies crave sugar to such levels?

Why does ANYONE’S body crave food that it knows is not right and in such excess?

Wrong body language

Something’s wrong, right? Because we might not be Mexicans, but our bodies aren’t stupid either. Most of the time the benign and absolutely vital bacteria in our gut tell us what we need and our bodies react according – the brain is hardly even consulted.

Yet obese people crave super sweet drinks and high energy foods like they’re preparing for a major physical challenge in Arctic conditions, even though there’s no sign of one. The body is getting mixed signals, why?

Those vital gut bacteria produce two crucial hormones, ghrelin and leptin – the on/off control for the body’s appetite. In obese people, the ghrelin switch is jammed ON and the leptin switch for OFF is not recognised because something has glitched the bacteria.

So what glitches bacteria? Not sugar, that’s for sure. The bacteria digest it with no trouble, but absorb way more than they ever should without ever signalling STOP, SATISFIED. They’ve become leptin resistant.

No, not sugar. Between Jamie and Westminster, they got it all wrong. Because the one thing DESIGNED to kill and damage bacteria that ALL of us are regularly dosed with is antibiotics.

Guaranteed obesity

Antibiotics? All of us?

Oh yeah. Antibiotics before two years old, overweight by five. And average teenagers today have been through at least twenty courses of medicinal antibiotics by the time they reach majority.

But that’s not even the half of it. Kids, teenagers, adults, we ALL ingest residual antibiotics from the food we eat. And guess what? Two thirds of us are overweight.

Because farmers have been using antibiotics to BOOST GROWTH of plant and livestock crops for the last 50 years, ramping up particularly in the last two decades with advances in factory farms and intense production methods.

Boost growth. That means MAKE FATTER.

From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. And worldwide, farmers are currently using antibiotics at the rate of 65,000 tonnes a year to make this happen. They’re guaranteed to work for billions and billions of animals, why not us?

65,000 tonnes a year to make us fatter – because they’re in the food we eat – unchecked, unregulated and unhealthy. A bigger trigger than sugar could ever be. Pumping us up, even though many of us DON’T have a sweet tooth.

Like how many fat people do you know who eat almost nothing, exercise like crazy, but still stay fat anyway?

So yeah, a sugar tax to fight obesity. Brilliant. Cart before the horse and all that rubbish.

Come on, Jamie, get with the programme.

Because we’re all going to look pretty stupid when the tax comes in and our obesity epidemic lurches from bad to worse.

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The drugs don’t work – so keep germs away, or die

Medical researcher
The miracle’s not happening any more – antibiotics are starting to kill us

You read that right, the drugs don’t work.

And you’d better believe it, because it’s coming true.

The Verve sang about it on their album Urban Hymns.

Slightly more scary, there’s a book about it as well – by no less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer of England,  somebody who ought to know.

Take a pill, it does nothing. That’s where we’re going.

Everything’s a risk

Which means a sore throat could kill you – so could a paper cut.

Even worse, we could be dying already – FROM PILLS WE’VE ALREADY TAKEN. Antibiotics we had years ago as a kid – a miracle cure back then, but slowly killing us now.

And even if we didn’t take them, they’re still working away at our innards, gulped down unconsciously with every mouthful of food we eat. Every day a little more, drip, drip, drip. Because – surprise, surprise – there’s antibiotics in all our food.

What the hell’s going on?

Two things, neither of them good.

Antibiotic resistance

The one Dame Sally is worried about is antibiotic resistance. Because of massive over-use, all kinds of harmful bacteria have evolved that are immune to antibiotics. They’ve mutated and mutated so that whatever illness they cause is unstoppable. If our bodies aren’t strong enough to resist, we’ll die.The drugs don't work

And it’s not just illness. Every routine surgical procedure relies on antibiotics to prevent infection. Heart surgery, hip replacement, gastric bypass – all of them are impossible without infection control. Medicine is on the brink of returning to the Dark Ages.

Antibiotic contamination

The other thing is long-term. We ingest small doses of antibiotics with everything we eat – residual traces of growth boosters used by farmers to fatten up livestock quicker and plant crops yield more strongly.

You read that right too. Growth boosters. Added to animal feed and plant fertiliser in industrial quantities. Super-charging the manure that’s used for everything from grazing grass, to vegetable crops, to grain production – you name it.

How can you tell?

Look around and ask yourself, aren’t more of us overweight than we ever used to be? And not just a little portly round the middle either – but seriously bulging everywhere, at all stages of obesity.

Antibiotics did that – just like they did for the cows and chickens and pigs they were fed to. They got fat, so we get fat too. Fatter and fatter and fatter as the residual doses collectively mount up. Seriously obese.

Which means we’re seriously at risk of what obesity triggers – type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma – all kinds of slow, debilitating ailments that will eventually kill us. Caused by the very same miracle drugs we thought were life savers.

Keep healthy, or else

All of a sudden, our health and everything concerned with protecting it, have become a major issue – like driving on bald tyres. Everything is OK as long as nothing happens. But if it does, we’re going to crash Big Time.

Luckily, we do have defences.

No 1 – wash our hands at every opportunity. Germs surround us and are on everything we touch – so unless we keep them clean, our hands are constantly transferring viruses and bacteria to our mouth, eyes and nose, the easiest doorways for infection to get in.

No 2 – eliminate germs around us. We all carry germs with us and our living spaces are full of them. But they don’t have to be. Mopping and scrubbing gets rid of only a few – we need to be sure of the cracks and crevices. Plus we need to treat the air – probably 80% of any room space that is never usually touched.

Easy with a Hypersteriliser though. That fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide destroys all viruses and bacteria by oxidising them to pieces. Forty minutes and the place is sterile – safe from germs down to less than 1 air particle in a million.

No 3 – be watchful. How many times do we cut ourselves because we’re not paying attention? If accidents don’t happen, germs don’t get a look in.

No 4 – go organic. Stop eating mass-produced foods that have antibiotics in them. Not easy at first, you have to find a reliable source. Certainly if you grow your own and eat ocean fresh fish – not the farmed jobs – you’re off to a good start.

Yeah, the drugs don’t work. But if we’re watchful and we’re careful, most of the time we don’t need them. And hopefully we’re healthier and stronger, so if anything does happen, we can rise above it anyway.

Let the dying happen another day.

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