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The real inside story on our unstoppable obesity

Peephole - unstoppable obesity is coming
However you look at it, unless something amazing happens, our obesity epidemic is unstoppable. Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Unstoppable and accelerating every day. Obesity already traps two thirds of us in its coils of fat  – and one third of our kids.

Health watchdogs are in a tizz. We’re irresponsible, can’t manage our ravenous appetites. Food producers should be penalised – forced to make portions smaller, with lower food values. And we ourselves, culprits that we are – we should be controlled, limited to what we should eat.

PHE’s new numbers game

400, 600, 600 the new mantra goes. The number of calories we should be “allowed” for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Plus, on top of that, food producers must reduce the calories in foods eaten by families by at least 20% by 2024.

Otherwise – smack-handy, naughty – Public Health England will send us to bed without any supper for the next 50 years.

Spotted the mistake yet? That PHE maybe haven’t thought this through?

All punitive, isn’t it? Dire consequences if we don’t conform.

Yet not a dicky bird about why we’re obese in the first place. Why there’s so many of us – two thirds of adults makes it an epidemic. And why, despite all PHE’s magic numbers, the continuing onslaught of obesity is so relentless and unstoppable.

Jail for fatties

Consider for a start, how the 400, 600, 600 rule might be enforced.

Note the implications – “rule” and “enforced”.

Do PHE think we’re all obese from choice – that we LIKE to go through life looking like a lump of lard?  And what are they going to do – arrest us for being fat?

It’s all our fault, of course. The sedentary lifestyle, pigging out on junk food, never any exercise except for what we lift to our mouths.

Easy to play the blame-game when you’re publicly funded and don’t have to answer for anything – or even produce results. Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities?

Excuse us, but people have to eat. It’s how their metabolisms work. So how does our new one-size-fits-all 400, 600, 600 rule contribute to our health and wellbeing when our whole equilibrium is balanced to working higher?

Does PHE intend we should impair our capabilities and continue through life as less than we are? Not so fat, but not so smart either. Impaired in the brain department – with no chance ever against the world’s whizz kids of Singapore, Japan and South Korea?

The blame game

Yeah, the blame-game. But we can all play that too.

Because we never used to be so fat, so why are we now?

Twenty years ago obesity was not the unstoppable monster it is now, so what’s different?

And if protecting the nation’s health and wellbeing is so paramount, HOW DID PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND LET US GET THIS WAY?

One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back.

Because PHE well knows that the world’s most effective FATTENING RESOURCE is antibiotics. Just a small dose every day promotes growth in food animals by 5%, 10% and more.

It’s why they’re so up in arms about it too. With 240,000 tones of antibiotics shovelled into cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry every year, drug-resistant superbugs are developing so fast, modern medicine could fail completely within five years. No more infection control – back to the Dark Ages.

Oh sure, sure.

It’s precisely because of superbug resistance that antibiotics were banned as growth promoters in the EU from 2006 and in the US from 2017.

PHE in the poo

Except world use of antibiotics in agriculture isn’t coming down, it’s continuing to explode. Because since 50 years ago, food production has had to increase five times over, just to keep up with population growth – from 1½ billion then, to 7½ billion today.

Which makes intensive factory farm methods almost essential to provide enough food – the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs that the world consumes annually.

Animals living on top of each other – unsanitary, easily susceptible to all kinds of infections – and in dire need of regular antibiotics, just to stay alive. Which of course, for therapeutic reasons, they are allowed – in both the EU and US.

No growth promoters – but the animals get their fattening-up pills anyway.

And that puts PHE right in the poo.

You see, food animals might be fed all kinds of enriched feedstuffs to make them plump and juicy fast – but it’s a fact of life they don’t absorb all the nutrients they eat. Far from it. Beef cattle for instance excrete 80% to 90% of the nutrients they consume.

Not just nutrients either. It’s everything else their bodies need to get rid of, macro- and micro-minerals, physiological active compounds such as natural and exogenous hormones – and of course, antibiotic residues.

The manure that PHE is mired in.

Highly fertile, animal manure is used across the board to enrich forage which the animals munch right back in again. Plus of course cereal grains, vegetables, fruit and all types of plant crop – directly applied, or absorbed through the soil from manure-laden water seepage, right down to the water table and the streams it feeds.

More antibiotics in – more fatteners included in the foods we eat. Meat, veg, fruit – you name it, chances are it’s got antibiotic residues in it – the world’s most successful growth promoters.

Back in the day

And let’s see now, the first fast-processing American-style broilerhouse for chickens was opened at Aldershot in 1959. By 1990, a quarter of all meat eaten in Britain was poultry.

On top of this, government  campaigns – that means PHE or its predecessor – urged people to eat less red meat, pushing chicken to No 1 on British dinner tables and triggering a 26% rise of intensive farming, particularly in the last six years.

More factory farms, more foods containing antibiotics residues, the world’s top growth promoter. More people getting more obese – and PHE never saw it coming. Never saw to this day the connection between antibiotics fed to animals and an unstoppable obesity epidemic among people.

Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing. Yeah, right.

And it gets worse.

One of the reasons antibiotics are so good at boosting growth is that they cause the digestive system to absorb nutrients better. Beef cattle might only retain 20% of the nutrients they eat, but a higher proportion goes into making them bigger and fatter on antibiotics than if they’re not.

Same thing with people.

An absorbing problem

Depending on the state of our metabolism, how healthy we are, how hungry we are, how well-built we are, how active we are and a host of other variables – our absorption capability can range anywhere from 10% to 90%.

Which is where the 400, 600, 600 rule begins to make no sense.

In a nutshell, thin people are undernourished because they don’t absorb enough. And fat people are underfed because their bodies aren’t satisfied enough – one slice of bread won’t do the job, so they’ll have two.

And how will PHE police otherwise, lock everybody up?

Check out prisons like HMP Addiewell and inmates take photos of the food they eat. Fish and chips, steak and chips, chicken and chips – slightly more than 600 calories right there.

So is our obesity epidemic completely unstoppable?

From personal experience, the weight can be dropped – at least if you’re strong willed.

Others would certainly find it a lot easier if they had help. A lot more understanding from PHE, a lot more sympathy – and some serious policing of getting antibiotics out of our diet.

Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.

How about it, Public Health England?

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

If sugar makes us fat, why DOESN’T it get used to bulk up farm animals?

Sugar lust
Take it from the billions of animals who know. Sugar is under-powered – to get really fat, you need antibiotics

Not good enough is why. Doesn’t do the job. If you want to bulk up proper, use antibiotics.

That’s what farmers do. Micro-doses of antibiotics in the feed – the most powerful growth boosters ever invented. To make animals WANT to eat more. And to make them absorb more food value than they normally do – which is  how they put on weight.

Super-duper growth boosters

Works great with cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, even fish. From egg to a roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From newborn calf to an Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

Overnight maturity. Instant obesity.

The same with plants. Faster seeding, stronger shooting, quicker yielding. From antibiotics applied directly, or absorbed from the soil in animal manure.

Oh sure, sugar has an effect – but mild alongside antibiotics. Feeble. The farmers’ secret to fast fat for at least the last fifty years. Exploding to industrial levels  in the last twenty – with the introduction of factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

Exactly when our current obesity epidemic got started. Two thirds of British adults now overweight or obese – and one third of children too.

But not from sugar. Fifty years ago we had sugary Coke and junk-food pizza, just like we have now – and people didn’t get fat. Now they do. From the same antibiotics that the animals get fed.

How does that work?

All in the poo

That’s the messy part. Very ewey.

You see, animals don’t absorb all the food that they eat. Around 80% is pooed out again as waste, nature’s way of providing on-going fertility to plants and smaller animals like birds and insects. And not just nutrients either, but residual amounts of those antibiotics.

Some of it falls on the grass in animal grazing areas, to enrich the soil and promote healthy growth. The animals eat it, re-ingesting those same antibiotics all over again. Or they eat cereal straw and grass dried after cutting – or silage made from cereal crops like maize and wheat.

Again, grown with fertile manure from those same animals. And again with residual amounts of antibiotics – exactly like the micro-doses added to their feed in the first place.

So even if antibiotics are withdrawn from their food because they’re getting ready for market, they’re still getting their daily hit. Still with their appetites turned full throttle.

Our daily dose

And still with antibiotics in their bodies. Which become the beef, lamb, pork and poultry offerings on our supermarket shelves – ready for us to eat, antibiotics and all.

With the same effect of making US want to eat more than we usually do – and absorbing more nutrients than normal. What works for the animals works for us, so WE get fat too.

Fatter and fatter. Because we don’t go to market at an early age – we’re here for the long haul. So we pile on the pounds – meal after meal, day after day without realising it. Until suddenly we look in the mirror and we’re a hulking Size 20.

Yes, sugar has a bearing on it. We eat too much of it, of course we bulk up. Two two-litre Cokes instead of the 350ml bottle our grand-folks chugged. Double burger with extra fries – and muddy Mississippis to follow.

Too much food altogether, that’s why we get fat.

But sugar’s not the cause. Not everyone who puts two spoonfuls in their tea is a porker. Nor is everyone who chows a Mars bar dangerously overweight.

The info that we’re over the top doesn’t reach the brain because the bacteria in our gut mix up the signals. We over-eat without realising it – until reality hits us in the mirror.

So putting a tax on sugar is not exactly going to help. It’s treating symptoms, not cause.

Yes, we eat too much sugar. And too much bread, and too many chips, and too much cheese, and too many eggs, and too much jam, and too much cake, and too much ice cream, and too much curry and rice.

It’s not the sugar that’s the problem. It’s the too much.

And the only way to stop it, is to stop us getting these micro-doses of antibiotics in everything we eat. Meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy – even water. Everything is laced with them – right through the whole food production chain.

With more coming all the time. 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics currently get used worldwide in agriculture – with totals set to hike nearly 70% by 2030.

Which means it’s not sugar we have to tax, it’s antibiotics.

Not exactly wise – because without them, world food production would stall completely.

From eating and absorbing too much, billions of people would starve and wither. And there would be nobody to eat the sugar anyway.

Ever get the feeling our “experts” don’t know what they’re talking about?

Picture Copyright: mihtiander / 123RF Stock Photo and picsfive / 123RF Stock Photo

Do our health authorities actually realise the deep manure that antibiotics put them in?

Surgical team
Oh, oh, the brown mire’s already hit the fan – and billions of us are going to need treatment

They already know we’re in trouble.

Everybody from England’s Chief Medical Officer on down is seriously worried about antibiotics.

“A ticking time-bomb threat that ranks with terrorism,” says Dr Dame Sally Davies.  “The drugs don’t work, so we’re back to wash our hands or die.”

Antimicrobial resistance – just for starters

Serious, yes, because she’s talking about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). One by one, savvy bacteria have developed immunity to our miracle life-savers. Modern medicine is at the brink of a new Dark Age. No more heart transplants, hip replacements, or even C-section births.

So doctors are scared, but not poop scared.

But they should be.

Because all of them – the government, Public Health England, the General Medical Council, the NHS, everybody –  they’re already in deep poo, and don’t even know it.

Sure AMR is serious. But alongside other concerns with antibiotics, it’s only the beginning.

The age of the fatties

Like obesity, for instance. The elephant in the room that doctors don’t want to acknowledge.  A runaway epidemic that already affects two thirds of British adults – and a third of British children.

Dame Sally puts that on a par with terrorism too – though it’s actually worse. Obesity that leads to diabetes, heart disease and cancer – around 30 million deaths and accelerating like crazy.

Yes, fuelled by sugary drinks, junk food and a couch potato lifestyle. But not triggered by them.

Our current slo-mo tsunami of accelerating obesity is from antibiotics in the FOOD we eat. Micro-doses in everything we put in our mouths – meat, vegetables, milk, water.

How come?

Down on the (factory) farm

Because micro-doses of antibiotics are exactly what farmers feed their animals to bulk them up and make them grow quicker. To obese-ify them.

They’re not supposed to, of course. Overuse of antibiotics by agriculture is a major cause of antibiotic resistance. And farmers use 240,000 tons of them worldwide every year.

Which is why antibiotic growth promoters are banned in the UK and EU – to prevent AMR from getting worse.

Fat hope.

And we can thank antibiotics for that too.

At the end of World War II there were only 2½ billion of us on this planet. Today we are 7½ billion. Antibiotics lowered the death rate so more of us could survive. No longer just the fittest – but also the weak, those rescued from disease and infection. Another 5 billion of us.

Which is why farmers NEED antibiotics. To produce enough food to sustain us in such numbers. Except the planet hasn’t got any bigger, there’s no new land they can use for farming. So the only way to go is industrial.

Enter the CAFO – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or factory farms. Thousands of animals, concentrated in every available space. So many of them on top of each other that antibiotics are essential for keeping them alive.

Antibiotics not as growth promoters, note – that’s illegal. Strictly therapeutic. Ultra necessary in the close and unsanitary slum conditions these poor animals have to live in.

Antibiotics everywhere

The effect is the same though. Antibiotics fed to animals every day in regular doses. All above board and within the law. With exactly the same obese-ifying effect.

So we eat them and we get fat too – from the residual antibiotics in their bodies?

You got it.

Although actually, farmers are supposed to withdraw antibiotics from feedstuff up to a month or more before slaughter. And keep strict records that they’ve done it. To ensure no antibiotics get into our own food chain.

Except they can’t always do that, can they? Their animals might die.

So there ARE actually maximum residue limits (MRLs) of antibiotics in our food – tiny doses of course. But it’s tiny doses that get fed to animals to obese-ify them in the first place.

All of which is before the REAL poo happens.

You see, it’s a fact of life that animals do not absorb everything they eat. Around 80% of it is excreted as waste. Which is how come manure has high nutritional value – it’s full of unused food.

S*** happens

So here we are – up to our necks in manure.

Because manure is used to grow crops of all kinds – including feedstuffs for livestock. So even though animals might not be dosed with antibiotics along with their food, they’re getting them anyway – from the grass, hay, maize, soya or whatever it is they’re being fed.

Better include fruit and vegetables too – and everything else.  The entire food spectrum we get in our local supermarket.

So that whatever we eat contains antibiotics. In exactly the micro-doses needed to obese-ify us like the animals – whose metabolisms are nearly the same as ours anyway.

Plus of course, manure leaches into the soil and into the water table – eventually into our streams and rivers. Swig a glass of water out of the Thames and it’s also full of antibiotics.

Oh, you want to get rid of the antibiotics before you eat them? Aside from any cooking you might do, you have to boil everything for at least 30 – 60 minutes. Though what your cauliflower cheese will taste like after an hour on the gas flat-out is anybody’s guess.

All of which means that our obesity epidemic is going to snowball – not go away. And that’s on top of the AMR superbug casualties we’re already taking. Millions of us face a long slow death thanks to illnesses brought on by antibiotics.

Dark Ages 2.0

OK, so suppose we get tough and ban antibiotics altogether?

Straight away we get Dame Sally’s Dark Ages. Forget to wash your hands and you could die from a paper cut.

But how are farmers going to sustain enough production to feed 7½ billion people without the power boost of antibiotics? No more factory farms, no more mass production.

Looks like medics will have to add malnutrition and starvation to the presenting symptoms they have to deal with.

Up to their necks in the brown stuff.

Us too.

So when Dame Sally says wash your hands, we’d all better listen. Our only defence with antibiotics gone.

Soap and water. More than at any time ever in our history, our lives depend on it.

Picture Copyright: nyul / 123RF Stock Photo

No amount of sugar can sweeten the truth – it’s ANTIBIOTICS that make us fat

Plus size girl cutting fat off
We can cut out sugar, starch or all of them – truth is, we’ll still be fat unless we cut out antibiotics

The truth is certainly that we’re all getting fat.

Two thirds of adults are already overweight or obese. So are one third of children.

Our couch potato lifestyle, junk food addiction and sugary drinks are to blame say the experts. We’re bringing this misery on ourselves.

The truth is equally that we never used to be like this. The Swinging England of the Sixties was stick thin by comparison. So were the Seventies, and the Eighties.

People slouched in front of the telly in those days too. And ate junk food. Wimpy hamburgers from Coventry Street in 1954. Pizza Hut from Islington in 1973.

And of course Coke from 1926, starting at Selfridges.

Uh huh.

The disastrous miracle

Looks like there’s more to the truth than meets the eye. Our Mums weren’t fat, so how come we are?  How come if we want to look slim, we have to be Photo-shopped that way?

Because if all the things that are supposed to make us fat were around all those years ago, why are we only ballooning up now? Our current epidemic of fatness only started in the late 90s, so what was different in the 40 years before?

Yes, well those were the days before factory farms were invented to feed the world’s exploding population. 2½ billion back then, versus 7½ billion now. Farmers needed a magic bullet or all of us would starve.

The miracle they chose was antibiotics.

First, antibiotics would keep animals healthy, all crowded together in the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) needed to supply large numbers.

Second and more amazing, antibiotics would make them grow faster. Bulk up quicker, be ready for market sooner. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

Fatter and fatter

Though scientists had known about the growth phenomenon ever since antibiotics were discovered in 1948 – overnight they rocketed to became the ultimate growth booster. Round the world, antibiotics were shovelled into animal feedstuffs like there was no tomorrow.

Today, according to a government report, 240,000 tons of antibiotics a year are used on farms around the world. By 2030, that could nearly double.

An industrial volume so staggering that medics attribute it as the major cause of antibiotic resistance. The rise of superbugs – harmful and often lethal bacteria that have mutated to become immune to treatment by antibiotics.

Officially, antibiotics are therefore banned from animal feedstuffs as a growth booster – certainly throughout the EU. They’re still used to keep animals healthy though. Their daily dose is still administered – but not as food, as medicine.

And in the super-crowded, unhealthy slum conditions of CAFOs, antibiotics are essential to keeping them alive.

Fatter vegetarians too

It doesn’t stop there.

Manure from these animals is used to enrich soil and fertilise plant crops. It’s full of nutrients – and residual antibiotics. Because as part of nature’s life balance, most animals excrete 80% of what they eat – to become a food source for plants and other living things.

Which means animals are still EATING antibiotics anyway. Not added to food, but already in there – grown from the earth in the grass, straw, soya, maize and corn they’re fed.

And that means, you guessed it, they’re laced full of antibiotics when they’re sold and wind up on our supermarket shelves. Food that we will eat, charged with these same super growth boosters – more and more with every meal. Deliberate fat-makers we don’t even know we’re eating.

It’s not just in meat either.

The same animal fertiliser is ingested by plants of all kinds – grain crops, fruit and vegetables , fruit trees, everything. They’re full of antibiotics too.

So is our water. Antibiotics from manure leach into the soil and down to the water table. They’re in our streams and reservoirs, including the Thames.  Every turn of our kitchen taps is another partial dose.

Deliberately fatter, without our permission

And there’s the truth of it. Every meal we eat, every morsel, every bite – contains a residual dose of the most efficient growth booster in human history.

We’re getting fat because our bodies respond just the same way that animals’ do. We crave power foods because our hunger switch is always on. Our bodies never know when they’ve had enough. They even extract more food value than they should, absorbing more nutrients, accelerating the fattening process.

Thanks to antibiotics, we eat too much.

Can’t face the truth? Easier to live with than the mumbo-jumbo we’ve  been sold about diets all these years though, isn’t it? Which, it seems, is not exactly the truth either.

Besides, it means it’s not our fault we’re fat.

We’re the only ones who can fix it though. And it can be done. Simple physics. We’re eating too much, so we all have to eat less.

Not easy. To succeed takes hard work and will power.

And that’s no lie.

Picture Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo

Hush! GM foods are back: to genetically modify you

Grabbing doctor
They’re gonna get you – GM foods – in fact they already have

Brace yourself. Genetically modified foods are back in town.

All over the headlines nearly 20 years ago. A big public outcry to get them off the market.

Genetically modified, see. To be immune to pesticides. So when crops are sprayed to get rid of weeds, the important plants aren’t affected.

Downside risk

Yeah, great. But how about the super-weeds that become pesticide resistant? Running riot, ready to take over the planet. And what about the dependant ecology – birds, insects, other plants – the whole biological balance?

And what do they do to us humans?

We showed them back then. 1999, it was. Together with the Daily Mail – guns blazing, run that stuff out of town. And we did, all consumers together. Told our supermarkets “No Deal” – we didn’t want any of that Frankenstein stuff.

Well guess what?

Just checking out this year’s National Farmers’ Union conference, they’ve showed up again. Digging by the Mail has exposed GM foods are back. In up to 80% of maize and soya fed to livestock that become the meat that we eat. Sneaked into our supermarket fridges by big money corporations with no questions asked. We pays the money, the retail chains keep schtum.

Yeah, bad news, the pits.

GM and worse

But squeaky clean alongside the ANTIBIOTICS you’ll find in the same food. Especially since those mega-buck conglomerates have no idea they’re there anyway.

Yeah, GM crops – we can probably live with them.

But genetically modified human beings – meaning YOU and everyone else on this planet – that’s seriously screwing with us. Because that’s exactly what antibiotics do long-term – screw up our genes, shake up our body balance.

Ever wondered why we’re all getting fat? Or why we’re getting sick more than we used to?

Thanks for nothing – from antibiotics. In the food that we eat – straight from the supermarket.

You see, they’re actually ADDED to livestock foods, like the maize and soya already GM cultivated – deliberately fed to animals to make them grow bigger, stronger and faster.

And animals have been fed that stuff for decades – generation after generation of cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and even fish – fattened up for market in high density factory farms. Places so crowded, and hygienically iffy, those same animals NEED antibiotics to stop them falling sick in droves.

All in the poo

OK, let’s get basic.

Every farm animal – cows, sheep, chickens – makes poo. Tons and tons of the stuff – a major source of nutrients for all plant life. In fact the average cow probably pumps 80 – 90% of the stuff that it eats back out again – super-enriched food to make fertile manure.

Laced through and through with residual antibiotics.

Right, so follow the chain. The poo enriches grass for grazing – to be re-eaten by those same animals. More of the same stuff to bulk them up – the farmer’s rubbing his hands, although probably has no idea it’s there.

Because they’re in the grass, antibiotics residues are in the animals’ silage too. They get them with every mouthful, even though the farmer will withdraw antibiotics in their feed – for an elimination period required by law – before sending them off to market.

Plus of course, the poo gets collected for manure – which spreads antibiotic residues everywhere it’s used – including the GM farmed crops of maize and soya to be used as additional feed. So even though the animals are not receiving direct doses, they’re still mainlining with every mouthful.

It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere

The same manure of course, gets used everywhere else too – for fruit, grain and vegetable crops, everything. There are no laws or restrictions on its use, so it may even wind up being used to encourage growth of ORGANIC crops too. Organic crops thought to be pure, but containing antibiotic residues.

Oh yeah, and while we remember, antibiotics are widely used to boost plant growth too – sprayed on, mulched into the soil, or sometimes injected – and there’s no legal restriction on how that happens. They’re also used like pesticides – to control white spot, blight and leaf rot. More residues.

Since they’re in the soil, the residues leach down into the ground too, to be borne away by rainwater and runoff into the river systems. Which means there are antibiotic traces in our drinking water too – everything we eat or drink, right across the food spectrum.

Double-edged miracles

Now here’s the thing. We think of antibiotics as medicines, right? Miracle drugs that prevent and cure infection, protecting us from illness and disease. They do this by killing pathogenic bacteria, prescribed according to whatever the need is, to target treatment more effectively.

Not so bad if applied locally, to the skin or directly to a sutured area. But a real full-on drama if taken internally. Because as doctors are now starting to realise, our bodies are actually 90% bacteria and only 10% human – a mutual and harmonious partnership that makes us the amazing creatures that we are.

Down in our gut, where everything we eat eventually winds up, there are hundreds of trillions of bacteria – our microbiota – a diverse and carefully balanced community handling all kinds of functions, including digestion, protein production and regulating our immune system.

Pitch any kind of bacteria-killing antibiotic in there and it’s mayhem. Medicinal antibiotics might home in on specific pathogens, but a lot of other bacteria types inevitably get in the way. Residual antibiotics attack pretty well anything.

Wholesale murder

Bang, the end of carefully balanced harmony, the whole community goes out of kilter. Some whole species get wiped out, others are severely devastated. Not good for their basic defence system, which is to crowd invaders out by sheer numbers, impossible if half of them are missing.

Er, damaged gut bacteria. With damaged DNA. Unable to do what they’re supposed to do. Genetically modified gastrointestinal malfunction. Oh, sorry!

All kinds of things happen as a result, none of them positive. Yes, we might get rid of whatever bug we got our prescription for, but everything else is a downer. Plus there’s no coming back. Some bacteria resuscitate if their numbers are big enough. But the minor groups are gone for good – the system never comes back to 100%. Being genetically modified is a one-way street.

First to go is usually appetite control – and how many nutrients should be extracted from food. At worst, there are no limits, the body eats gluttonously, side-stepping the brain and indulging itself simply because it can.

More likely we wonder why the hell we start ballooning up, we’re not eating any more and we don’t normally guts ourselves anyway. Yeah, but the body absorbs more as it passes through – with our bacteria on the fritz, it squeezes out food value that much tighter. Check your poo – eating the same but passing less? It’s on your tummy and your thighs and your bum.

Uh huh. Exactly the mechanism that makes farm animals bulk up – only now it’s happening to us. Just one of the happy surprises that genetically modified means. Without controls, we pull out more food value than we should – and pile on the pounds big time.

Uber obese

Fat, fatter, obese – but it’s not all lifestyle. Devastating consequences though – type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma – and a lengthening list of other ailments, most of them slow, debilitating and ultimately fatal. Unless we realise what’s happening, we can eat ourselves to death.

And we’re already on the way. Check out Parliament’s own Obesity Statistics.  24% of adults in England are obese and a further 36% are overweight. Double the way we were in 1994 – when GM foods first pushed their way into our supermarkets – and farmers started ramping up antibiotics in animal feed, now at 324,000 tonnes per year worldwide and counting.

Want more proof we’re already genetically modified?

Well, since when did we develop all these sudden allergies, sensitivities and intolerances?

Some of them are because we grow up too clean these days – too little time as toddlers, eating dirt. Our immune systems are a combination of our inheritance from our mothers and what our bodies learn in our formative years, teaching our gut bacteria how to defend us.

Hmm, not so rosy any more. For a start, Mum’s own immune system is genetically modified from a lifetime of residual antibiotic damage – and probably under-powered from her own birth because HER Mum was genetically modified too.

Phantom ailments

On top of that, the world we live in has fewer challenges to even a generation ago. Major league killers like cholera and typhoid don’t exist any more – which means our immune reflexes sit twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do.

OK, so they invent something. And our high-powered defences over-react, chasing phantoms. We get a reaction, even plunge into life-threatening anaphylactic shock – coming down with asthma, eczema, hay fever, urticaria, coeliac disease, dermatitis, lactose intolerance, nut allergies and a million more – a three-fold increase on where we were back in the 70s.

Avoid antibiotics

Time to strike back. Pressure our supermarkets into rejecting GM foods – and antibiotics too. Go organic if we can. Avoid antibiotics like the plague – because they might save lives in the short term, but in the long run they’re killers.

Which also means stay away from germs wherever possible so that our weakened systems stand a better chance of survival. Only one way round that – wash your hands like your life depends on it (which it does) – and sterilise the area around you whenever you can with a Hypersteriliser. If there are no germs, you can’t get hit.

Yeah, genetically modified foods – at least they’re well intended, despite the side effects. Not like antibiotics – they’re about as helpful as being genetically modified with a baseball bat.

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Hey, sugar-taxers! Obesity starts with antibiotics

The Fat Pill
Running to fat starts with antibiotics – sugar just keeps it going

So we need a sugar tax, huh?

To stop our kids getting obese.

Hell, to stop ourselves getting obese, because two thirds of us are.

Good idea, if sugar is the cause.

Uh huh, but before we go galloping off, here’s a few questions.

Because just maybe there’s a bigger threat out there than sugar. Active and alive – with a proven ability to bulk up bodies fast – to twice their weight and more in half the time.

Obesity perspective check

Are we naturally fat? No.

Are we meant to be fat? No.

Were we always fat? No.

Were we fat in the 1950’s? No.

Were we fat in the 1990’s? No.

Didn’t we have Snickers and Mars bars in the 1990s? Yes.

Didn’t we have Coke and Pepsi and Lucozade in the 1990s? Yes.

But we weren’t fat in the 1990s? No.

Sure? Yes.

And we’ve ballooned up since then? Yes.

But don’t all those things have sugar in them? Yes.

So why does sugar make us fat now, but not in the 1990s? Er…

Let’s just back up a bit

We’re not naturally fat, are we? And we don’t naturally puff out from sugar, even though a lot of us have a sweet tooth, do we? Sure, there’s exceptions – those unfortunate people whose bodies have a disorder that makes them fat. But most of us are quite normal – fat has never been an issue, until now.

So what’s changed? Is there some kind of super-sugar that is making us fat?

How come only in the last twenty years? And how come it’s snowballing?

Whatever it is must be a pretty powerful growth booster.

Damn right.

How do you like accelerating from an ordinary chicken’s egg to a 1.5 kg supermarket roasting chicken in six weeks? Or a calf maturing to a full-size Aberdeen Angus beef steer in one year instead of the usual four?

Easy-peasy too. Add virginiamycin to poultry feedstuff  and bambermycin to beef cattle’s.

Yup, you’ve got it – antibiotics both of them, the kind that farmers have used increasingly for the last twenty years. Triple whammy growth boosters de luxe.

There’s a whole slew of antibiotics that get used in agriculture – from boosting animal growth, to keeping up health levels in intensive factory farms, to enhancing plant growth and preventing blight. 65,000 tonnes of them every year – increasing to over 110,000 tonnes in the NEXT twenty years.

Which means there’s a whole slew of antibiotics in everything we eat – never mentioned or even thought of alongside additives, preservatives and all the other usual things we’re worried about. They’re even in organic foods too.

Because it’s not just stuff that gets fed DIRECTLY to livestock or plants. It’s RESIDUAL antibiotics spread across the whole spectrum of food types – via manure from accelerated cattle used to fertilise crops or enrich grazing lands.

It even finds its way into groundwater and river systems, so that pretty well everything we eat or drink has antibiotics in it – proven high performance growth boosters right across our entire food chain.

Slightly more significant than sugar at causing obesity. And way more serious.

All in the balance

Because a normal healthy body naturally maintains its correct sugar levels. Gut bacteria absorb what they need and excrete the rest – along with all the nutrients surplus to requirements. Only the right amount gets extracted, the rest becomes waste just like other animals.

Which is why manure is so fertile – and human manure is the most fertile of all. An icky thought for Western minds, but known and used by Chinese farmers for centuries.

Let the system get out of balance though and all kinds of disorders set in – obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease – life-threatening all of them.

Out of balance, out of control

And it’s antibiotics that upset the balance.

You see antibiotics work by doing one thing – killing bacteria. And the whole body balance is achieved by gut bacteria – over 100 trillion microbes that are maybe the most important part of us altogether – the active living life force that keeps us going.

OK, so the Doc prescribes an antibiotic for a condition you have – say amoxicillin for your sinusitis. You swallow the capsule, it goes down to your gut – with an effect like an exploding hydrogen bomb.

Sure it clobbers the streptococcus pneumoniae, haemophilus influenzae, and moraxella catarrhalis that are probably causing the problem. It targets several billion others besides – beneficial bacteria normally resident, that regulate all kinds of body functions. Yeah the infection’s dead – but injured and out of balance, things start to go wrong with the survivors.

Some tribes of bacteria are lost altogether, so you might lose an immunity or pick up an allergy. Others are damaged and behave erratically – possibly the reason why antibiotics are so successful at triggering weight gain. Bacteria that control appetite produce two types of hormone – ghrelin to stimulate and leptin to diminish.

Don't Eat Sign
The body’s appetite control –
leptin for STOP and ghrelin for GO, GO, GO!

When the ghrelin keeps producing, hunger does not switch off. Eat, eat, eat, cravings develop. More, more, more, a compulsive addiction. And it’s not just the eating. The body greedily grabs more nutrients from the food it gets, more than it should – out of balance, the system bulks up.

It also goes for the foods that accelerate the process – sugary fatteners, high-powered junk food – OK in moderation but supercharged in bulk. Deep fried Mars bars, here we come.

Worst of all, these days many of us get a jump start – antibiotics administered before we’re even two. Start early like that, for whooping cough or pneumonia, and guaranteed infants will be overweight by the time they reach five.

Uh huh, and the damage done by antibiotics cannot be reversed. If a particular class of bacteria is destroyed, it’s gone for good – no more protection, no more specialist ability. Others which are depleted may breed themselves back – but you will never be the same again.

And all the while – drip, drip, drip – the daily assault goes on. Every sip, every mouthful – making us weaker, less resilient, more prone to infections – fatter.

Make no error, sugar abuse is bad and we need to fix it. But the cause is worse and an illness in itself – an uncontrollable addiction.

If you tax heroin, would it stop junkies?

So what are we doing taxing sugar?

Come on guys, we got to stop taking antibiotics.

Yes, they’re lifesavers – but they’re killing us too.

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Fat and fatter: our hidden daily intake of antibiotics

Shocked dieter
Diet or no diet, everything is fattening – and you don’t even know you’re eating it

Yes, hidden fat-makers – in pretty well everything we eat.

Good, improving salads. Health-giving fruit. Ordinary everyday meat and two veg.

Not just the fast food pizzas and burgers.

Nobody knows

Hidden because we never even know they’re there. Ask your own doctor and you’ll get a blank look. Antibiotics are only on prescription. Fat chance.

Unfortunately, fat chance is right.

You see, there’s antibiotics in our food from the stuff that makes it grow. Just about any kind of fruit or veg in your supermarket is grown with fertiliser. Even organic food is grown from soil made fertile by rotating crops and using compost, manure and clover.

All natural stuff, right?

Well, yes. Except that just about all natural manure used by farmers comes from herds or flocks of animals that are regularly fed antibiotics. For their health and well-being is the official line – but it’s mostly because it makes them bulk up and grow faster.

And sure, on a modern high intensity factory farm, health is a huge issue. So many animals so close together, they’re impossible to keep clean – large numbers can get ill very quickly. And of course any kind of sickness goes through them like wildfire.

So the rule is, dose ‘em up and keep ‘em dosed.

Big bucks fatter

Meantime these same antibiotics they regularly get in their feedstuff is fattening them up and accelerating their growth. From egg to supermarket chicken roaster in five weeks. From calf to meat counter rump steak in one year instead of four.

Money, money, money.

Alongside the inevitable result that all the manure they produce is laced with antibiotics. The same stuff that fertilises the grass they eat, or the silage – and which used by other farmers to grow grain crops, vegetables and fruit trees.

By law, antibiotics added to feedstuffs are supposed to be withdrawn before getting ready for market, so there are no drugs in any animal’s system when they’re sold.

Zero ADDED, yes.

But those cows and sheep and pigs and chickens are still noshing food grown with antibiotics in the manure. Which is how come you’ll find chlortetracycline in onions and cabbages. Sulfamethazine in lettuce and potatoes.

There’s antibiotics in there anyway. Because plant crops ALSO get regular antibiotics – streptomycin for grain crops, oxytetracycline for fruit – to take care of blight and harmful bacteria.

Plus – you guessed it – to boost growth.

So like it or not – organic or regular – just about everything we eat is dosing us with antibiotics every day – JUST LIKE THE ANIMALS.

They get fat, we get fat

And just like the animals, we’re getting fat too – on account of how we’re animals, just like they are. Some of us kinda chubby, some of us definitely muffin-tops, and some of us with a serious avoirdupois problem. Twenty, thirty years ago, not an issue – today, with nearly 60% of us overweight or obese, it’s an epidemic.

Which means, sooner or later, it’s gonna get you too.

A few uncomfortable facts:

  • We all get a jump start because antibiotics are prescribed to us medically. Give antibiotics to children under two – and by the time they’re five, they’re 15% overweight.
  • Like magic bullets, antibiotics get prescribed for just about everything – from serious to trivial. By the time a teenager reaches sixteen, at least ten courses of antibiotics are likely to have been through their system.
  • Antibiotics kill bacteria – good ones and bad ones. Down in your gut, they’re like an atom bomb exploding through your natural gut bacteria. Your gut recovers, but it’s out of balance – and it never comes back to 100% the way it should be again.
  • Gut bacteria out of balance boost the fat cells in your body – the good kind and the bad kind. The good kind you can exercise off at the gym. The bad kind are there for keeps.
  • Being out of balance boosts ghrelin too – the “hunger hormone” that increases appetite. Think those cravings for gallons of Coke and boxes of doughnuts are the natural you? Your own gut is hyping your brain to pig out on them – the real you has no say.

Different strokes for different folks

If you’re not fat already, you might have a different metabolism – some people are always thin. Much more likely, your balance hasn’t been too badly affected yet – and your daily preferred food choice hasn’t pushed you over the edge.

Come down with a recurring condition that requires antibiotics and it could be another story – amoxicillin for sinusitis, say – repeated every few months because it won’t go away. Hello size 18.

What to do about it?

Watch what you eat, obviously. Indulgence foods and sugary stuff do you no favours.

As Dr Martin Blaser proved in his research with laboratory mice. One test group was given antibiotics and got fat. Another group was given fatty foods and got fat. A third group was given antibiotics AND fatty food and got VERY FAT.

But avoiding antibiotics in your food is not easy, unless you stop eating altogether – hardly a long-term solution.

One way is to grow your own veg – without fertiliser of course. The other is to eat fish, but not the farmed jobs – net-cage salmon are fed quinolones. Stick to the deep sea types – cod, haddock – without the chips though!

Then get off antibiotics – and stay off. Don’t insist on high octane power when you don’t need it – and only agree to antibiotics treatment if there’s no other way.

Which means don’t get ill. If you’re not ill, you don’t need medicine.

Which means avoiding germs. Keeping yourself safe and not looking for trouble.

Hype up your hygiene

Which means hyping up your hygiene. Washing your hands, before and after pretty well everything you do. Because your hands touch everything, including your food – and the sensitive areas round your eyes and mouth – germs favourite way into your body.

You can sterilise your surroundings too, so viruses and bacteria don’t get a look in. Mist up your workplace with a Hypersteriliser and germs are gone.

Don’t grief though if your clothes start feeling tight and you look a bit fuller in the face – it’s happening to all of us. An epidemic like the medics say, but not all your fault.

They won’t like it, but this one’s up to the farmers.

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