Clever one, this. A tax on sugary drinks to stop kids getting fat.
Meanwhile 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics – specially tried and tested for the way they fatten up animals – is getting through unmonitored and unchecked in every meal kids eat. In their meat, in their vegetables, in their milk, in their baby feed.
And that’s on top of the antibiotics most modern kids get in their early years – overkill medicines for childhood illnesses, also proven to boost infant obesity. Give them antibiotics by two and they’ll be fat by four.
Up a bit lower
Looks like our government obesity strategy really knows what it’s doing with a sugar tax. A tax on the one substance which – surprise, surprise – the human body cannot do without.
Mind you, confusion is understandable. First we’re supposed to eat this, then we’re told it’s bad for us. We have to avoid eating that, and then suddenly it’s good for us.
Truth is, with diets and food types – nobody really knows what they’re talking about.
Here’s Jamie Oliver, rabbiting on that sugar is the bad guy – when along comes Glasgow University with a report that FAT, not sugar, is where our health campaigns are misguided – the real villain of the piece.
And right on top of that, we’re told to eat fat to get thin – no less an outfit than the National Obesity Forum telling us that low-fat diets trigger disastrous consequences.
Who to believe?
The only sense in recent months seems to come from Lord McColl, who pointed out in a speech to the House of Lords recently that “it is impossible to be obese unless one is eating too many calories.”
So guess what? In Lord McColl’s opinion, low-fat diets and exercise don’t mean a dickey-bird for losing weight. And as emeritus professor of surgery at Guys Hospital, he probably has a better perspective than most.
So why are we eating too many calories, especially our kids?
Because the one nasty fact that everyone chooses to ignore is that just about every single food source available through our supermarkets is laced through with antibiotics.
Yeah, antibiotics. Officially for health reasons – to keep those mega-size industrial factory farms running smooth with intensive livestock herds, crowded into massive production units.
In reality as the big money-maker growth booster for agriculture worldwide – shovelled in with every feed and absorbed by every plant crop from antibiotics-laden manure.
Fact: antibiotics make animals fat.
So fact: antibiotics make us fat too.
Make us WANT more food, make us EXTRACT more nutrients when we get it. Turning us into super-efficient eating machines.
Nothing to do with sugar, that’s for sure.
But is anyone looking at taxing antibiotics production?
Are they, hell.
Because would you believe, our top health honchos want drug companies to be paid an INCENTIVE for developing new antibiotics. Because again – surprise, surprise – overuse in agriculture (240,000 tonnes, remember) is causing bacteria to develop resistance, so the drugs don’t work any more.
Where’s the antibiotics REPLACEMENT?
What is it, denial?
Antibiotics are a busted flush, yet medicine still chases after them. We don’t need new ones, we need new thinking completely.
And sugar tax?
Nothing about the elephant in the room. Our kids are getting fat, so tax Coca-Cola. They’re big, they can afford it.
Will somebody please wake up before we’re all ten ton porkers?
Some overdose. 7.6 million of us makes it 1 in every 10.
Climbing 4 in 10 by 2035.
Nearly half the population of Britain, chopped down by terminal disease.
Condemned to long, slow suffering and years of pain – all from antibiotics.
The end of all of us
Serious stuff from the Obesity Health Alliance – a group of high-powered experts from Cancer Research UK, the British Medical Association, six Royal Colleges and the Royal Society of Public Health.
Quite rightly, they’re sounding alarm bells as our current obesity epidemic takes hold. 18,000 of us a year falling to cancer, rocketing to 38,500 by 2035. 4.62 million new cases of type 2 diabetes. 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease. A staggering 7.6 million of us.
And that’s not including other obesity-triggered illnesses such as high blood pressure, liver disease, osteoarthritis or chronic kidney disease.
Again quite rightly, the Obesity Health Alliance wants action NOW. Junk food advertising to be banned on TV from 6am to 9pm, food industry limits on sugar and fat – and of course, the much-vaunted sugar tax.
How wrong can we be?
Guaranteed, that will achieve nothing.
Junk food doesn’t make people fat – if you can justify calling it that. Fast foods like burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and the like are all good healthy foods that satisfy millions of people who are NOT obese. They don’t get fat eating them – only if they eat too much. If they overdose.
“…many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are as caloric and obesogenic as anything served in a Burger King.” David H. Freedman, The Atlantic magazine
Exactly like they would pigging out on avocado and bananas if they ate enough. It’s not the food that’s unhealthy, it’s the act of gorging on it.
The government can pass all the laws they like – control food content, add warning labels, restrict sales to adults over the age of 35 on presentation of their driving licence – it will make no difference. Just as a sugar tax will make no difference either.
Oh sure – in Mexico, sugar tax caused sales to drop by 12%. That’s sales, not consumption. In the dry areas where there is no safe water supply and the local bottled water doesn’t measure up, people are drinking Coke in the same volumes they always did. No change, even though the stuff costs more.
Is anybody watching?
So come on, what’s with our health professionals who should be calling the shots here? The Obesity Health Alliance, the government, Public Health England, the NHS, everybody – they’re all looking the wrong way.
Fact: people only get obese because they consume too much.
They overdose on food.
And they only overdose because their systems are out of balance. Human beings do not naturally overeat. We are not naturally fat – and throughout history, we never have been. Where on this planet are there naturally occurring fat people?
Right, there aren’t any, because they don’t exist.
But all around the world, all kinds of people are suddenly getting fat. They didn’t do that fifty years ago, what’s different?
One word – antibiotics.
But not as the miracle lifesaving drugs we all think they are and rely on them for.
For fifty years, antibiotics have been pumped into farm animals daily with their feedstuff – to bulk them up bigger and faster. Extracting more out of the same nutrients in a fraction of the time, they have enabled massive factory farms to mass produce food on a scale so large, our world now supports three times the population that it did fifty years ago – all off the same land area.
2½ billion people in the 1950s, 7½ billion people now – that’s the colossal boosting effect of antibiotics as growth promoters working on our food supply – 240,000 tonnes a year right now, and set to climb nearly 70% by 2030.
Yeah, so why are our health authorities looking past this? Or are they in denial?
Animals eat antibiotics, they get fatter. We eat the same animals, we get fatter. We also eat the vegetables, fruit and plant crops that manure from these same animals fertilise. So that with every single meal, from every single source, we get a daily dose of antibiotics – our daily obesity top-up nudge.
Not junk food, junk drugs
So why isn’t anybody surprised here? We’re sleep-walking into this and nobody even notices. At least after 50 years of smoking, health authorities started to listen – and today it’s a recognised health risk.
No difference with obesity. Not just from eating too much, but from EXTRACTING TOO MUCH food value from the stuff we do eat. Just like the cows and pigs and sheep and chickens, our systems have been glitched by antibiotics, it’s what they’re now programmed to do.
“… roundly demonized junk food companies could do far more for the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50.” David H. Freedman, The Atlantic magazine
Which means even if you DON’T gorge yourself stupid, or glug Coke by the barrel, as top echelon medics like to think we do – we continue to get fatter and fatter. We never used to do it, but now two-thirds of us are already tipping the scales at the porker level.
Next stop, cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, osteoarthritis, chronic kidney disease – take your pick. Our overdose reward.
So, OK Westminster – let’s see if you’ve got brains. Don’t nanny us with how much sugar is allowed in our food – or how much fat, salt, preservatives, additives, colourants, or any other stuff is in there.
Get tough legislation
Ban the antibiotics. Ban them outright.
It’s too late for us existing fatties, of course – we’re already on the slippery slope – with ten or twenty years of hospital visits to look forward to, and an oversize coffin at the end.
But not for our children.
Pull the plug on this self-inflicted curse we’ve lucked on ourselves – and watch new generations grow up athletic and slim like they’re supposed to be. With stronger immune systems too – not clobbered by the biological cosh of antibiotics.
No more overdoses. No more antibiotics. Healthy at last.
One hell of a problem for modern medicine though. No more protection for intricate procedures, almost all surgery totally impossible.
But that was going to happen with antibiotics resistance anyway. The drugs aren’t working – and they kill us by the way we eat – time to dump them.
Time to let everybody live – and end the biggest overdose of all time.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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%.
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.
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.
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.
A lot of talent, a lot of passion – and serious commitment to getting our kids onto a healthy diet.
You’ve got to admire his determination in pushing for a Sugar Tax too.
Something to fight for
Yes, our kids DO have too much sugar and pig out on junk food. Yes it is critical. And yes we need to do something about it.
But not a Sugar Tax – mainly because it won’t achieve anything.
You see, Jamie’s concern is that more and more kids are becoming obese – and that the wrong diet is bulking them up further – with all kinds of health problems threatening them in the near future.
But here’s an analogy. A bath is filling up with water, it is going to overflow. But putting a tax on water is not going to stop it.
In our best Michael Caine accent, YOU HAVE TO TURN THE BLOODY TAP OFF!
Address the cause, not the condition. Ask the question why those kids are on such risky diets – and how come they got there in the first place. Because a lot of things about this issue don’t add up.
Check the numbers
For a start, UK’s actual consumption of sugar, salt, fat and calories has been DROPPING for decades – sugar down 16% since 1992 and calories per head down 21% since 1974.
But despite these plunging totals, average adult body weight INCREASED by 2 kg, simultaneous with a drop in sugar per head of 7.4% and calories of 4.1%. And that’s according to a report sourced from the Office of National Statistics, DEFRA, the British Heart Foundation and others.
Wha…? You want to tax these people when sugar levels are going DOWN!
As a result, the same report – THE FAT LIE by Christopher Snowden – puts the bulking up of our kids and increase in obesity across the board down to a decline in physical activity at home and the workplace – NOT everybody gutsing out on sugar and fatty foods.
A whole slew of research medics are up in arms about that. LIES! they say. Misreporting, say the more reserved of them. People are careless with the truth when asked about their obesity, they deliberately say they eat less than they do.
Now hold on a minute. People are very embarrassed by their fatness. It’s very visible – and they can’t get away from it. It is hurtful to talk about and there are many, many of them in despair because they actually eat like a bird yet still get fat. Somehow their bodies are absorbing more, extracting a higher volume of energy out of their intake.
That’s not how it’s supposed to be, is it? The human body is a brilliant creation and in its natural state does not make mistakes. We are not normally fat, nor do we naturally become fat.
In nature everything is balanced, so if we’re less active, we eat less food – the system evens out. Even hunting animals which gorge themselves after a kill don’t get fat. They know prey is scarce and that life is peaks and valleys – feast, famine, feast, famine. You never see an overweight tiger.
Which means something is definitely wrong which has nothing to do with sugar at all.
Why does the body deliberately go for quick-hit power-charge foods – burgers, pizza and energy-boosting drinks – and then go in into stand-by mode to conserve its strength by lying down or sprawling in front of the games console, physically doing nothing?
Somehow the system is on panic alert. It is saying Emergency, Emergency, Full Power At the Ready, Now! Now! Now!
System glitch – fake hunger
But there is no emergency. The bath is overflowing – but the tap is still full throttle. Somewhere there’s a system glitch. Because suddenly going athletic won’t fix things either. Run 5 miles a day every day and the weight might drop off. But ease back on the exercise and it comes right back on again – ask the girls in tears who don’t fit their wedding dress.
Leptin is a hormone produced by the bacteria in our gut – our personal teeming colony of vital microbes that digest our food and regulate our immune system, along with thousands of other necessary tasks. It’s the tap to turn things off, the biological switch that tells our bodies we’ve eaten enough, it’s time to stop.
All of us have leptin, but for some people their bodies somehow override its instruction. They are still driven by their ghrelin, another hormone that is the appetite ON switch. POWER UP, WE’VE GOT THINGS TO DO.
OK, so what causes leptin resistance? Doctors are still going round the houses on that one, with no conclusive answers.
Right in front of us – the invisible villain
But there is one cause staring us in the face that nobody’s taking notice of. The elephant in the room. Ask any farmer what makes modern farms so incredibly able to produce so much full-volume food so quickly and you will get a cracked smile.
The miracle growth booster they all use is antibiotics – first discovered in the 1950s and now pumped into animals and crops round the world at the rate of 65,000 tonnes a year. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 1 year instead of four.
Growth booster, huh?
Isn’t that what’s happening to us? Residual antibiotics in the food we eat gets into our gut – and we balloon up, just like Farmer Brown’s cows and chickens. And more antibiotics in the manure they produce gets into all the plant crops we eat as well. We’re on the same fatteners that the animals are.
And guess what? We’re animals too.
Uh huh. Now for our obesity system glitch. Antibiotics do one thing. They kill bacteria. A life-saver if you’re sick and have an infection, but not so good for normal healthy bodies. Because antibiotics are not selective about what they kill – they just go in, shotgun blast, and take out everything around them.
Actually, not shotgun blast, more like hydrogen bomb. Devastating among the 100 trillion bacteria in our gut that work to keep our system going. Whole families get wiped out, others go on the fritz, no longer able to perform their vital tasks. Like responding to leptin SWITCH OFF signals.
Not sugar, antibiotics
There’s the tap Jamie, that’s why the bath is overflowing. Nothing to do with sugar at all. It’s antibiotics we’re not even aware of – unknown, unregulated, unmonitored and unhealthy. Our own miracle lifesavers turned into fatteners that are slowly getting to all of us – two thirds of adults today, tomorrow even super-zealous weed-thin vegans.
And that’s why the Sugar Tax makes no sense in tackling obesity. It feels right, but it doesn’t even begin to address the CAUSE. If we’re going to tax anything it should be antibiotics – however did we let them get away from strict medical supervision anyway?
But even tax isn’t enough. We need to stop exposure to antibiotics altogether – both from medical emergencies and daily top-ups from the food we eat. And we need to do it NOW. Dose a toddler just once with antibiotics before the age of two – and by five they’re already visibly overweight.
All of which means we genuinely ARE going to go hungry.
Because back in the 50s before antibiotics, there were 2½ billion of us world-wide and factory farms were unheard of. Today we’re pushing 7½ billion people, yet land under farming is still the same size. Three times more people to feed, only possible by growth boosting from antibiotics.
If we go back to all-natural farming – no antibiotics, no hormones, no pesticides, no nothing – 5 billion of us are going to go without food.
Now THERE’S a problem Jamie. You’re the cook, how on earth are we going to get round that? Go to one of your restaurants right now. Order a burger – from personal experience it’s healthy, wholesome and amazing. Not junk food.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Can’t be done, can it? Your body won’t let you. Too much of a good thing, your system can’t handle it. Which is natural, right? The body says NO to too much. In this case, too much bulk. There’s not enough space.
Which is what it’s supposed to do.
The same process works with everything we eat and drink. The body knows what it wants – and how much it wants. And shuts off when it’s had enough – satisfied.
But just look at us. We ARE getting fat when we’re not supposed to. Especially kids.
The body’s NO switch is glitched and keeps saying YES. Nothing to do with Coke. How come?
The real villain
You’re not going to like this. Because it starts when worried Mums first take us to the doctor – fever, swollen glands and glazed eyes. Do something, do something, give us special medicine.
Antibiotics, hmm. Always an iffy question with kids. But antibiotics are miracle drugs, so we push for them. And these days we strong-arm our GPs so much that 10 million of all prescriptions written out for antibiotics are unnecessary.
Worse, as helicopter parents, we keep pushing antibiotics over and over. Sniff, sniff, antibiotics. Teensy tummy problem, antibiotics. So for example, by the time they’re 20, the average American child has had antibiotics SEVENTEEN times.
Which leads us to the awkward truth that most doctors know but prefer not to talk about. That children given antibiotics by the age of two are likely to become obese by the time they’re five.
Somehow antibiotics switch their metabolism so they DO drink too many sugary drinks. AND eat too much pizza. AND pig out on burgers with double fries. AND all the other high octane power foods people eat on the go when time is short.
Power food and drink
High octane foods, right? Not “junk”. There’s nothing bad in them to make the body ill. And there’s nothing wrong with the nutrition packed into them either. They just pack more of a charge than other foods – a super-quick boost that satisfies hunger fast.
Which is what the body goes for when its hunger switch says YES. Fill up now – quick, quick.
There might be no need, but that is what the hunger switch says. Go, Go, Go! And a burger you can eat with one hand walking down the street. A quick, high-nutrition charge in minutes.
So we’re getting fat, not because pop foods and drink are bad for us, but because our hunger switch is jammed on YES. We keep eating and keep eating. And like the drink-chugging experiment we tried a moment ago, we only stop when there’s physically no space for more.
All of which we can thank antibiotics for. And this getting fat business is no joke. Because our miracle drugs are the cause of a world-wide obesity epidemic that is rapidly taking us over.
How can we be so sure?
Super growth boosters
Well, who uses antibiotics?
The medical sector, yes. But did you know that around 80% of antibiotics used world-wide are actually used on farms to feed to livestock? 240 THOUSAND TONNES of them every year.
And do you know why?
Since antibiotics were first discovered, their major use has been as GROWTH BOOSTERS. They’re fed to animals to fatten them up. Make them develop bigger, meatier, faster.
Exactly what happens with us.
Every year they’re shovelled into the 1.4 billion cattle, 19 billion chickens, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs that feed us. Vitally necessary to sustain the 7½ billion human beings we have become since our 2½ billion only 50 years ago. A rocketing threefold increase only possible through antibiotics.
And that’s why we’re getting fat.
Every day, every mouthful
Our starting shove is antibiotics we get from the quack while we’re small. Followed by daily top-up doses from the meat we eat laced with antibiotic residues.
And not just meat. The same animals’ manure fertilises our plant crops, so there’s antibiotics in all the fruit, grain and vegetables we eat too.
Because our metabolisms are so similar, our bodies respond like the animals do. They get fat, so we get fat. And with constant antibiotics in our ongoing diets, we keep getting fatter and fatter. Short of ignoring our bodies and eating less, there is no way to avoid it.
Which is why the whole sugar tax thing makes no sense. It’s treating symptoms, not cause. We might just as well tax spinach, or milk, or sausages. Choose any category, let’s tax that.
Yes, we eat and drink too much – but that’s everything across the board, not just sugary stuff.
The real issue is to control our antibiotics intake.
Next to impossible with the demands on world food supplies. Without them, production would fall to the way they were 50 years ago – and 5 billion people would go hungry.
In other words, keep using antibiotics or starve. Big problems for the medics, big problems for the farmers. But until our leaders sort that one out, we’re going to keep getting fat.