No Soda for You

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Under pressure from proliferating regulations and threatened litigation, the major soft drink companies have agreed to stop selling regular soda in elementary, middle, and high schools. Under the deal, brokered by the William J. Clinton Foundation and announced today, only water, low-fat milk, and fruit juice will be sold in elementary and middle schools; high school students will also be able to buy diet soda and sports drinks. A spokesman for Bill Clinton calls the deal "a bold and sweeping step that industry and childhood obesity advocates have decided to take together." The president of the American Heart Association says it's "the beginning of a major effort to modify childhood obesity at the level of the school systems."

Yet it's hard to see how these changes can reasonably be expected to have a significant effect on kids' weight. To begin with, fruit juices have just as many calories as regular soda; so do low-fat (as opposed to fat-free) milk and many sports drinks. If the concern is how many calories kids are ingesting (as opposed to, say, possible vitamin C deficiency), substituting orange juice for Coke does not accomplish anything. I'm not sure why diet soda, a close substitute for regular soda with no calories, will be limited to high schools, but that choice makes no sense if the aim is reducing calorie intake.

Even if the only beverages sold in schools had zero calories, I'm skeptical that the upshot would be measurably thinner students. They would still be able to bring the beverages of their choice to school, and their off-campus calorie consumption (i.e., the vast majority of their calorie consumption) would be entirely unaffected. In short, pulling corn-syrup-sweetened soda from school vending machines, like eliminating cigarette billboards, will make people feel good, but it will not have a noticeable impact on overall consumption.

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  1. In short, pulling corn-syrup-sweetened soda from school vending machines, like eliminating cigarette billboards, will make people feel good, but it will not have a noticeable impact on overall consumption.

    Unless it turns out that cornsyrup is somehow worse for you than the other sugars that come in to replace it. If that is the case then the regulation makes some sense. Like Bailey said: should be an interesting, contentious decade.

  2. Under pressure from proliferating regulations and threatened litigation, the major soft drink companies have agreed to stop selling regular soda in elementary, middle, and high schools.

    Don’t regulators and litigators care about the rest of us? …surely, they won’t just sit there when so many adults are running wild in the streets–drinking soft drinks at will! …They’re bad for us too, you know?

  3. Yeah, watch out – soon it’ll be convenience stores within half a mile of a school can’t sell anything sugary.

    I agree that this is largely a PR solution, just like any other diet where a magical combination of certain foods will make you slim and fit and attractive and solve all your health problems. The real solution is to just make exercise part of the culture, which right now it’s not. What that means for schools in unclear (more recess, intramural sports?), but it’s not a matter of putting everyone there on a diet.

  4. Don’t regulators and litigators care about the rest of us? …surely, they won’t just sit there when so many adults are running wild in the streets–drinking soft drinks at will! …They’re bad for us too, you know?

    They are hoping for divide and conquer, Ken. If these wacky Clintonians can get a segment of the population to cut the HFCS, then they might get some compelling data on the safety of HFCS relative to other sugars, you know comparing the HFCS people to the cane people. Once they have this data in hand, then they will come after your soda. They will grab your soda and extract the HFCS and replace it with cane and charge you for the privilege. And you will be happy about it because you don’t want to lose a foot, which at that future date you will indeed be worried about.

    That is the plan anyway. We’ll see how reality works out. They will look pretty bad if the HFCS-free kids end up as fat and diabetic as the normals.

  5. high school students will also be able to buy diet soda and sports drinks

    WTF????

    Diet soda and sports drinks are murder on your liver and internal organs. Many diet sodas contain carcinogens. Not to mention, diet pop tastes like dooky. Sports drinks contain ridiculously high amounts of high fructose (say it with me, people) corn syrup that human livers are not meant to process large amounts of. Moreover, most people, even active high school athletes, don’t need as many electrolytes and sugar energy that are contained in sports drinks, and they should really be used at a minimum and not relied on. I really think putting alchol in the vending machines would be a healthier choice for those kids’ livers over sports drinks and diet soda.

    Finally, to quote what a stupid (but wise in this instance) woman said,

    “Diet pop is for fat people.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

  6. This won’t matter much, in the long run. The rising cost of oil and energy will force Americans to lose weight. Cheap energy makes American obesity feasable. Take away the cheap energy, and the nation will be forced to lose some fat. You think Bob Q. Overwaite will still be towing 320 lbs around when he has to *walk* to Burger King to stuff his face with carbs, sugar water, and grease, the price of which has soared (due to soaring energy cost)?

  7. William J. Clinton Foundation
    Klintoon was a pudgy little kid; add pop-psychology as desired.

  8. Many diet sodas contain carcinogens.

    Is this the benzene thing or the aspartame thing? Because aspartame doesn’t cause cancer.

    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/tpaspart.html

  9. The real solution is to just make exercise part of the culture, which right now it’s not.

    It’s not? Don’t schools have gym class any more?!

    Anyway, the *real* problem, as always, is the parents. They feed their kids garbage, probably because there isn’t enough time (or desire) to cook. Then they drive their kids around from one programmed activity to another – when they’re not sitting around watching TV. In other words, kids are fat for the same reason that adults are fat: we’re rich.

    1. Children aren’t adults; we can’t assume that children, who most of whom are learning how they’re “supposed to be” are as capable of resisting maedia pressure as are adults—otherwise, from a market perspective, those multiple hundreds of millions spent on promoting sugary products to children would be irrational. From a practical political view, as in the drugs and pornography issues, libertarians would be advised to draw as clear a distinction between the situation for children and that for adults. (I would advise that we have a, say, 16-20 relaxation period, during which young people would be not held as responsible or allowed as many rights….)
    2. Children are not in school voluntarily, both because their parents force them to go to any school, and many (most?) parents can’t afford a private or home-based education for their kids. Think of it this way: it’s bad enough that the gummint herds our kids into pens; let’s don’t give them objectively (see next point) bad fodder.
    3. Reality is not subject to market forces, and biology only to a limited extent so far. Maybe the results are not definite for any given person, but if you make it easier for (large) N children to drink sugar sodas, some noticeable portion M of them will end up with diabetes such that M is greater than the number that would be afflicted otherwise. It’s just that way, and until we hack our genes better, that’s not going to change. If you say that diabetes is in anyone’s Pareto-optimal set, I will respond that childhood is a period in which we won’t allow that to be acted-on.
    4. “Immediate opportunity” is generally a very strong pressure—that’s why supermarkets have impulse-buy sections at the register, and why heroin and cocaine addicts have a much better chance of staying off those drugs if they aren’t in neighbourhoods where those drugs aren’t sold, or around other people [ab]using.
  10. “They will look pretty bad if the HFCS-free kids end up as fat and diabetic as the NORMALS.” (emphasis added)

    Awesome, just awesome. Maybe corn syrup will give kids super powers.

  11. Ah, but while juice and gatorade-like sports drinks have as much sugar and calories as cola, they lack one important element: caffeine.

    It’s a plot to make our school kids more docile, I tell you!

  12. “Burger King to stuff his face with carbs, sugar water, and grease”

    Mmmmmmmm carbs sugar water and grease. Man I’m hungry now.

  13. School is no place for the vending and dispensing of junk food.

    JMJ

  14. Anyone know if the fruit juice selection will be exclusively juice? My guess is that there will be plenty of fruit drink to choose from as well, whic of course has gobs of HFCS as well.

    cosmetic solutions are so boring.

  15. Correct me if Im wrong, but does anyone else remember hearing that the fact HFCS is cheaper to use in soda than cane sugar has something to do with big agro subsidies?

  16. Maybe corn syrup will give kids super powers.

    Or a hobby:

    Rod also has diabetes (described as ‘one of his favourite hobbies’ along with ‘being quiet during trips’), and is prone to bedwetting.

    FROM THE UKNOWWHERE

    Under pressure from proliferating regulations and threatened litigation, the major soft drink companies have agreed to stop selling regular soda in elementary, middle, and high schools.

    I am all for private dispute negotiation & resolution — its the libertarian way — but when threats of (frivolous) litigation or lobbying are made the negotiation really becomes coercion in the guise of persuasion. The Clinton Foundation should have made its presentation less forcefully so that the sodamakers don’t lose profitable business./sarc

  17. To my knowledge, no one has yet offered a compelling argument for why a libertarian should be in favor of the government profiting from selling junk food to kids.

    The points Mr. Sullum makes are good ones. Fruit juices and sports drinks are lousy substitutes, and it’s unlikely that this symbolic gesture will make a dent in the longer-term trends that explain increasing obesity rates: cheap food, sedentary lifestyles and effective medical treatments of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

    But why, oh why, do we want Uncle Sam making money off rotting Johnny’s teeth? Makes no sense to me. And let’s face it, that’s the only reason these vending machines are there in the first place.

  18. Correct me if Im wrong, but does anyone else remember hearing that the fact HFCS is cheaper to use in soda than cane sugar has something to do with big agro subsidies?

    I heard it was an (anti-Cuba) tax on cane. Figuring out whether HFCS really is more risky than cane could be a great start to getting rid of any of these protectionist policies that may exist. In other words, bravo Clinton Foundation if u can pull this one off.

  19. But why, oh why, do we want Uncle Sam making money off rotting Johnny’s teeth?

    I think or hope, rather, that there’s a natural libertarian aversion to the government micromanaging Johnny’s teeth. …not to mention Ken’s teeth.

  20. And the entrepreneurial kids will loose weight as they fill their backpacks with the evil sodas and haul them to school and sell them at marked up, prohibition-era prices to the fatties and sugar junkies.

    Don’t worry – the market will provide.

  21. How about we get rid of the ridiculously high price supports for sugar, and ridiculously high subsidies for corn production in the US so we can have “real” soda made with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup?

    I once had Dr. Pepper made with cane syrup: Nectar.

  22. [/I]And the entrepreneurial kids will loose weight as they fill their backpacks with the evil sodas and haul them to school and sell them at marked up, prohibition-era prices to the fatties and sugar junkies.

    Don’t worry – the market will provide.[/I]

    Thats probably true-that is, until Principal Stalin decides to ban posession of soda at school under pain of a three day suspension.

  23. People should not be afraid of soda. Soda should be afraid of people.

  24. “Thats probably true-that is, until Principal Stalin decides to ban posession of soda at school under pain of a three day suspension.”

    Principal Stalin is just another underpaid government worker. He’ll take his cut and keep the competitors (pepsi) out.

  25. In many schools backpacks have been banned as a security measure.

  26. Aren’t there anti-trust issues here? All the players in an industry get together and agree on marketing restrictions. Mom and Pop distributor loses money because he can’t sell as much soda, sues the hell out of them.

  27. Under pressure from proliferating regulations and threatened litigation, the major soft drink companies have agreed to stop selling regular soda in elementary, middle, and high schools.

    A spokesman for Bill Clinton calls the deal “a bold and sweeping step that industry and childhood obesity advocates have decided to take together.”

    Yeah.

    Current spin for “We put a gun to their head and they volunteered to do what we wanted.”

  28. And the entrepreneurial kids will loose weight as they fill their backpacks with the evil sodas and haul them to school and sell them at marked up, prohibition-era prices to the fatties and sugar junkies.

    I, and a friend or two, made a bundle in boarding school doing exactly that.

  29. Aren’t there anti-trust issues here? All the players in an industry get together and agree on marketing restrictions. Mom and Pop distributor loses money because he can’t sell as much soda, sues the hell out of them.

    This brings to mind an antitrust connundrum I was pondering yesterday on my commute home:

    – let’s say all the large market share florists get together and conspire in the old fashioned way to drive the small florists out of business. That is clearly an antitrust violation.

    – now let’s say the same large florists get together and make political contributions to get their legislators to pass a law driving the small florists out of business. I think the large florists are shielded by Noerr-Pennington or something like that. But shouldn’t there be a limit on this kind of antitrust immunity? Is there?

    If we somehow magically found out that Coke & McD’s lobbied for HFCS protectionism, is that a problem?

  30. Maybe corn syrup will give kids super powers.

    Or a hobby:

    Rod also has diabetes (described as ‘one of his favourite hobbies’ along with ‘being quiet during trips’), and is prone to bedwetting.

    Lol, Dave W.! That was actually pretty good.

    My highschool banned bookbags (I believe it was after my freshman year). I just ignored the ban and civilly disobeyed. All of my consecutive classes were as far away from each other as was possible, and I had a ton of books to carry…man, I was a big nerd. But in my defense, at least I took drugs.

  31. Current spin for “We put a gun to their head and they volunteered to do what we wanted.”

    we don’t know it was a gun. Could have been electrodes to the gonads. Or ripped out fingernails. Or a menacing guillotine in the corner of the room. Maybe he made like he was going to spooge on their dresses.

    Or maybe, just maybe, it was words that did the trick here. Words!

  32. School is no place for the vending and dispensing of junk food.

    Jersey McJones has spoken. Why continue with this thread?

  33. I’m with Ken.

    JMJ

  34. don’t ask me how this is possible, but i am convinced that diet soda causes weight GAIN. When I met my wife, she was addicted to diet coke. I convinced her to switch to regular coke. She immediately lost 10 pounds, even though she also gave up cigarettes.

    Have you ever seen a skinny person who drinks a lot of diet soda? It’s always some 390 pound monster…

  35. School is no place for the vending and dispensing of government propoganda.

  36. Many diet sodas contain carcinogens.

    Is this the benzene thing or the aspartame thing? Because aspartame doesn’t cause cancer.

    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/tpaspart.html

    Well, if benzene is being referred to, then it should be pointed out that 1) benzene is present in virtually all foods, not just sodas, 2) that the dose of benzene you get from drinking a soda “high” in benzene is a tiny fraction of what you get from breathing each day*, and 3) essentially all foods and drinks contain carcinogens, though few of them appear to have them in concentrations that pose a significant health risk.

    According to a spokeperson for the FSA, you’d have to drink 20 liters of soda with 10ppb benzene just to get the benzene you get from breathing city air in one day.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4864226.stm

  37. School is no place for the vending and dispensing of junk food.

    I see no problem in dispensing junk food to go along with all the junk science, junk economics, junk history, and junk literature dispensed in schools.

  38. Patrick: Thanks for the benzene link.

  39. Thank you, Patrick, you soda corporation shill.

    Just kidding.

    But that still doesn’t change the fact that soda is not only empty, nutritionless calories for your body but actually hurtful to your body (dehydrates, strips calcium from bones, and so on).

    That said, I’m not advocating coercion of corporations. I wouldn’t be surprised if guvmint salisbury steak is as poor a food choice as soda.

  40. Check out the nutritional information on the back of a bottle of apple juice sometime. Empty calories.

    I will say though, contra Mr. Sullum, that this move will have some sort of impact on the consumption of regular soda at school. Kids don’t have refridgerators at school, and nobody wants to sit down to lunch with a warm can of soda trucked in from home 4 hours ago.

    As far as creating a culture where physical activity is boosted, how about creating a shame culture at school? Grant the skinny kids access to junk food, thus creating an incentive to get skinny, while adding additional layers of Lord of the Flies-style bullying of the flabbier kids (ie more incentive… or, I guess, more fodder for school shootings).

  41. As far as creating a culture where physical activity is boosted, how about creating a shame culture at school? Grant the skinny kids access to junk food, thus creating an incentive to get skinny, while adding additional layers of Lord of the Flies-style bullying of the flabbier kids (ie more incentive… or, I guess, more fodder for school shootings).

    I must say that’s a pretty shitty idea. I wouldn’t entirely blame fat kids on being lazy. There are people who are genetically prone to have “big bones”, you know. A measure like this would mainly tyrannize stocky kids of Eastern European and Russian descent. And Eskimos. And other fat peoples.

  42. Check out the nutritional information on the back of a bottle of apple juice sometime. Empty calories.

    B.P.,

    I do agree with you there. In fact, I’m probably one of the only people who believes that eating a lot of fruit isn’t really good for you. Too much sugar.

  43. But that still doesn’t change the fact that soda is not only empty, nutritionless calories for your body but actually hurtful to your body (dehydrates, strips calcium from bones, and so on).

    No argument there, the stuff is damn terrible for you. Doesn’t stop me, though, it’ll never stop me. I’m looking at the can of Coke Classic on my desk right now, 140 calories in a 12oz can, 39g of sugars, 50mg of salt. Sugar water, basically. But, yeah, so is fruit juice. What’s in fruit, even 100% fruit juice? Mostly fructose, except in the case of citrus which is generally about 50/50 fructose/glucose. Moderation, little exercise, and not worrying so damn much about if 30 extra pounds cuts precious weeks off of your late 70s.

  44. Diet soda and sports drinks are murder on your liver

    Smacky, where did you hear this? I need to change my dietary habits if that’s the case…

    Have you ever seen a skinny person who drinks a lot of diet soda?

    Jose, I’m 5’8″ – 160 lbs., although I agree that I’m probably in the minority.

    MC 900 ft. Jesus had a song with the lyrics:

    Whaddaya think this is, some kind of joke?
    I want ten Big Macs and a small diet Coke.

    …how about creating a shame culture at school?

    …um, did you ever go to school?

  45. Thats probably true-that is, until Principal Stalin decides to ban posession of soda at school under pain of a three day suspension.

    When sodas are outlawed, only outlaws will have sodas.

  46. The company I work for used to offer free soda and juice. At one point our paternalistic CEO became concerned about the quantities of soda one of the developers was putting down, so the soda was moved to $0.50 a can while the juice remained free. I actually ended up consuming more calories a day than I would have if the soda was free since I would have consumed diet soda otherwise. Insofar as fat kids care about their weight (probably more so in middle and high school than elementary school), a similar effect may be observed.

    What bugs me the most about this type of pressure is that it focuses on a particular mechanism (drinking soda) by which the underlying problem (inbalance between calories consumed and expended) manifests itself and often disproportionately demonizes that mechanism. When the regulation of the mechanism fails to reduce the underlying problem because other mechanisms remain available (eating and drinking non-soda beverages, not exercising), activists call for progressively more draconian regulation of the particular mechanism (restrictions on selling soda near schools, carding people to buy soda, regulating the content of sodas, etc) as each round of the regulations fail.

    For this particular issue, the best solution would be that the school sells parents vouchers for general classes of foods which the kids can redeem at school, so that the parents can regulate the diet of their kids while at school to avoid them loading up on junk food. It’s easier and more flexible than actually packing the kid food, provides a lot more control than giving the kid cash, and allows parents to keep track of long term consumption, so if their kid is overweight, they can see where they are packing on the calories.

    Jose –

    Every yuppie in Madison, WI, skinny or not, drinks Diet Coke. Switching to diet soda helped me when I was dieting, although I did and still do tear through the stuff. I expect fat people who are trying to diet go through it even faster because they are jonesing for a real soda but know they can’t have one, so they increase the intake of the imperfect subsitute.

  47. Sodas and candy, the booze and cigarettes of the 21st century!

  48. What gets me about this debate is the assumption that kids have nothing else to do all day but sit around and drink soda.

    I graduated from high school 10 years ago, so maybe I’m wildly out of touch by now, but we weren’t allowed to eat or drink in class. And we only had about 8 minutes between classes, so chugging in the hallways was out. And probably against the rules anyway. So the only possible time during the school day that we could drink soda was during lunch.

    Is it so different now, that kids have constant leisure to sit around with a Coke during school? Or do people really think that one stinking soda consumed at lunchtime is Killing Our Children?

  49. I drink a lot of diet (and regular) soda, and Im 5’9 162. I also eat at McDonalds for lunch just about every weekday.

    Why am I not overweight? Because I run three miles everyday. Is it really that difficult to figure out how to be able to consume high calorie foods, yet still not be a fat ass?

    I know in schools in Virginia, they cut recess and physical education classes in elementary and middle schools. This was so that the teachers would have more class time to teach the Standards of Learning Exams. And they wonder why kids are fat (and hyperactive?)

  50. high school students will also be able to buy diet soda and sports drinks.

    Are the sports drinks of the diet variety?

    If not, perhaps you should have written that high school students will also be able to buy sports drinks and diet soda.

  51. Hey folks, I’m kidding. It’s not a policy prescription. Although it’s no less workable or more outlandish than imagining that the country, in the aggregate, will hop, skip, and jog its way out of obesity.

  52. Smacky, where did you hear this? I need to change my dietary habits if that’s the case…

    SmokingPenguin,

    I’ve read it in several health bulletins and heard it from several reputable nutritionists…I’ve known corn syrup is bad for years, and I didn’t need any medical journal to tell me that. Just think: How does it make you feel? My liver hurts just trying to process it, usually.

    It seems like common sense to me that a syrupy substance would be much harder for your liver and digestive organs to process than something natural like water, milk, juice (not in excess), or even alcohol. It takes more energy from your body to process carbs in general. So the way I see it (and I’m pretty sure I’m paraphrasing what I’ve heard about fructose and corn syrup in general):

    More energy = harder work = more wear and tear.

    Capiche?

    For this particular issue, the best solution would be that the school sells parents vouchers for general classes of foods which the kids can redeem at school, so that the parents can regulate the diet of their kids while at school to avoid them loading up on junk food. It’s easier and more flexible than actually packing the kid food, provides a lot more control than giving the kid cash, and allows parents to keep track of long term consumption, so if their kid is overweight, they can see where they are packing on the calories.

    If the major concern of parents is their children’s ever-expanding waistlines, one solution would be to give them money. I spent my lunch money on cigarettes and it certainly helped me lose the weight when it really counted (at the still-naive tender age when I actually cared what boys thought of my developing figure).

  53. Or do people really think that one stinking soda consumed at lunchtime is Killing Our Children?

    I think the people who push for this stuff, really do believe that. They have no sense of people being able to consume in moderation. The philosophy seems to be that if too much of something is bad for you, then a little bit is also bad, and shouldn’t be consumed. It’s similar to people who think that because one multivitamin per day can be good for you, ten must be even better.

    These type of people seem to need every action to have a purpose, and the purpose had better not be pleasure.

  54. “It seems like common sense to me that a syrupy substance would be much harder for your liver and digestive organs to process than something natural like water, milk, juice (not in excess), or even alcohol. It takes more energy from your body to process carbs in general. So the way I see it (and I’m pretty sure I’m paraphrasing what I’ve heard about fructose and corn syrup in general)” posted by smacky

    not necessarily, smacky. HFCS is not chemically different from the sugar found in other fruits (Fructose) which is made of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of sucrose, which needs to be broken down by amylase (enzyme in saliva) and sucrase (an enzyme produced in the lower digestive tract) to be converted into glucose (the most simple sugar and the one used by our bodies for energy). What the liver does in relation to all of this is convert glucose to glycogen, which a type of carbohydrate stored exclusively in muscle tissues and in the liver.

    HFCS is not any more difficult for the body to break down than other sugars (lactose and maltose are actually more complex and harder to break down). Proteins and fats are more taxing, technically speaking, on the digestive system. Fats involve the liver (production of bile for the gall bladder to breakdown fat molecules) more than sugars do.

    Where HFCS, indeed, almost all forms of simple easily digestible carbohydrates, become a problem, esp. w/r/t weight gain, is when the pancreas releases insulin to control the over-abundance of sugar in the system. Insulin converts leftover sugar into fat molecules to be stored for times of famine (which we obviously never experience here).

  55. Is fructose harder to digest than glucose? I mean, isn’t cane sugar just sucrose, which is really just glucose and fructose stuck together?

    Plus, in the case of sugars, any sweetener is going to be dissolved anyway, so I’m not sure its consistency before dissolving really matters. I have read a paper indicating that fructose doesn’t make you feel as full as cane sugar. The dubiously reliable wikipedia page indicates that the HFCS used in soda is 55% fructose (with the rest of the sugar in it being glucose), which means there’s only marginally more fructose than in table sugar and they taste similarly sweet.

  56. Timothy, you are right; I have to correct what I said about fructose being glucose and sucrose – should have been the other way around. thanks!

  57. Capiche?

    I guess not. Are you talking about corn syrup being bad for your liver, or diet soda? Or both? I avoid corn syrup, along with most processed carbs. That’s why I drink diet sodas.

    More energy = harder work = more wear and tear.

    Somewhat OT: That sounds like an argument I’ve heard against eating char-grilled foods. Also, partially hydrogenated oils.

    If there’s evidence that Splenda or Aspertame have negative effects on the liver, I’d appreciate if you could point it out to me. This is not a sarcastic comment.

    BP – sorry, my sense of humor was taking a nap. FWIW, I think your proposal and the one in the article would have an equal chance of succeeding.

  58. I guess not. Are you talking about corn syrup being bad for your liver, or diet soda? Or both? I avoid corn syrup, along with most processed carbs. That’s why I drink diet sodas.

    SmokingPenguin,

    Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about from a chemist’s perspective (AmyLou seems to know more about this). My point is that there is an unnaturally large amount of excess sugar in most processed foods and beverages (in this case, sports drinks). If not excess amounts of sugar, then excess amounts of chemicals and preservatives (diet soda). Regardless of whether these are harder on your liver than fats or proteins, its still crap for your body. You can’t properly replace fuel with sugar in an engine, so why is your body any different? At least that’s how I view it. I realize that this is not the most scientific of explanations. Take that as you will.

    If there’s evidence that Splenda or Aspertame have negative effects on the liver, I’d appreciate if you could point it out to me. This is not a sarcastic comment.

    SP,

    I don’t really know of any scientific evidence supporting this or refuting it. This might be a good topic to research. I don’t know; I suppose I find that learning about the things I am consuming for my wellbeing (in theory) is at least mildly interesting, if for no other reason than biological self-interest and self-preservation.

  59. More energy = harder work = more wear and tear.

    Sounds like a good reason to not work out.

  60. More energy = harder work = more wear and tear.

    Sounds like a good reason to not work out.

    R C Dean,

    Yeah, I like to use that one for my anti-exercise position, too. It’s versitile that way.

  61. Well, smacky, I agree with you that excess sugar is bad for you. The concept of “balance” in a diet is not in play when junk food is made; hence the name “junk food.”

    SP, no evidence to date that in its 20+ year history of being sold to consumers, Splenda has not been proven to cause cancer or any other illnesses or disorders. It is a sugar (sucrose) molecule that has a chlorine ion bonded to the 2 of the oxides in the chain – technically a chlorinated carbohydrate, and still sweet to the taste, only our body doesn’t recognize it so it passes through our systems, inert and intact. when no metabolism of the molecule takes place, it cannot break down into anything, whether it be potentially useful or potentially harmful.

    I will disagree with smacky’s analogy about replacing fuel in an engine with sugar – there is a good reason why it won’t work: combustion engines are designed to do displacement work, where air is literally and forcefully displaced by pistons in the cylinder to propel a drive shaft or turbine or whatever it is connected to. Though petroleum fuels (technically fats which are a glyceryl molecule or several away from a carbohydrate) are burned to drive the displacement. Combustion of the physical kind is necessary – spark from a plug (or compression in the case of a diesel engine) ignites the fuel, and heat expands the air up into the piston, displacing the air in the cylinder, etc. In the body, the process is chemical and incredibly complex. It involves oxidation, phosporous molecules, mitochodria, sodium-potassium pumps – it does not just stop at glucose, glucose is sort of like gasoline, but it requires breakdown at a chemical level and involves myriad processes all to make an oxygen molecule cascade down a chemical chain to eventually create adenosine triphosphate to cause cells to do what they do. And each individual cell in the body has a different purpose, and requires this ATP to drive muscle contractions, move electrical impulses across neurons, receive photonic energy for sight, reproduce, etc. etc.

    sugar is necessary – when we don’t have it in our diet, our body begins to feed on itself in a process called ketosis which is for very obese people is beneficial but for the rest of us is potentially deadly. that is why we crave sweet foods, its natural to do that since we live on it. but a diet fuelled solely by sugar, and little else, is also deadly, because sugar is consumed at the expense of necessary protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, etfc.

    perhaps there is a market out there for vitamin and mineral enriched, splenda sweetened, protein enhanced beverages and foods. Oh wait, I forgot, that already exists. its called GNC 100% Whey and it tastes like chocolate milk. perhaps instead of soda they could stock Vending machines with pre-made health shakes. Or how about this – teach BASIC NUTRITION in school. How difficult could that be?

  62. doesnt this lead to soda becoming the first gateway drug.

    or wait, is that still milk?

  63. smacky – thanks for responding. My questions were sincere. I thought you might have found a smoking gun somewhere that I didn’t know about. For now, I’ll worry more about alcohol intake than Splenda at this point for my liver’s sake…

    AmyLou – thanks for responding. The chemistry is interesting. It sounds like Splenda is similar to Olestra in that they are both chemically created to be “pass-through” indigestible. Better living through chemistry, indeed.

    Since I participated in a threadjack, let me also add that John P’s point about cheap energy playing a part really resonates with me. I think one of the main reasons why Europeans are much less heavier than Americans is that so many of them use public transportation, meaning they still have to walk a few miles a day. If people really want kids to lose weight, have school buses stop a mile before the school, and have all the kids trudge the rest of the way to class.

  64. “we don’t know it was a gun. Could have been electrodes to the gonads. Or ripped out fingernails. Or a menacing guillotine in the corner of the room. Maybe he made like he was going to spooge on their dresses.”

    We know for sure that it isn’t a gun, because if it had been flagrantly mishandled, resulting in a negligent discharge, you’d be calling for Gaston Glock’s head on a silver platter.

    Back on topic, it’s patently obvious that this is nothing more than a feelgood solution. The kids who really want industrial strength soda will either bring it from home, or buy it from other enterprising students.

    The adults get to pat themselves on the back because they’ve “done something for the children” and the kids will just roll their eyes and circumvent it.

    The entire thing is as dumb as Jersey McJones is crazy.

  65. Gaston Glock’s head on a silver platter

    John Doe XXIII, you have a real name now, baby! Thanks.

  66. What the fuck are you yammering about?

    Dave, I know you’re crazy, but could you at least try to work the whole endearingly nuts angle rather than the batshit insane angle?

  67. If anybody is still reading this, I’m looking at the nutirion information for some Tropicana 100% apple juice here, and it’s got 25g of sugar per 8oz serving, the 15.2oz container has 48g of sugar.

    http://www.kfl.com/spsb.html

    Explains about the sugar ratios in commercial apple juices, but there’s roughly twice as much fructose as there is glucose, and sucrose (each in equal proportion) takes up 10-20% of the sugar total…so, you’re looking at 80-90% of the remaining sugar being 2:1 fructose/glucose. So, someplace between about 53% and 60% of the remaining sugar will be fructose, meaning that the total fructose content of the 100% apple juice I just drank is somewhere between 58% and 70% of the 48g of total sugar. So, somewhere between 27.84g and 33.6g of fructose from that single container.

    If you’re sufficiently motivated, feel free to back out the numbers for a 12oz serving to have a direct comparison to soda. Point is that this 100% apple juice, with no sugar added, contains a higher proportion of fructose than Coca Cola which is sweeted with HFCS.

  68. Point is that this 100% apple juice, with no sugar added, contains a higher proportion of fructose than Coca Cola which is sweeted with HFCS.

    Maybe the type of fructose in apple juice is only as harmful as cane (or even less harmful), but the HFCS in coke is much more harmful than that. That is a possibility and one that should have been explored b4 now. i don’t know the nature of the processing that yields the HFCS for Coke, but I am going to guess that it is more highly processed than the fructose in the apple juice. That might make a difference.

    I just can’t believe that neither the FDA nor the private sector has seen fit to generate answers on this yet. If the tort lawyers have to do the testing themselves, and find HFCS-related extra-special-badness, then I hope they show no mercy in court.

  69. Maybe the type of fructose in apple juice is only as harmful as cane (or even less harmful), but the HFCS in coke is much more harmful than that.

    How are there different types of fructose? It’s a molecule. Fructose is fructose is fructose.

  70. response to Ellie:

    Maybe there are other ingredients in HFCS. Maybe these ingredients come from the corn that is processed. Maybe they come from the processing. Maybe they are an accidental by-product of the original corn and the processing. Maybe the process of breaking down sucrose in the body triggers a different set of reactions than eating equivalent amounts of sucrose constituents already broken down. Maybe there are other potential differences we haven’t thought of yet.

    The Wiki did not answer these questions for me to my satisfaction. I know sucrose tastes different and interacts differently with sour flavors (eg, the citrus in coke and slice). So my tongue thinks there is a difference. I am reasonably confident that I could differentiate HFCS and sucrose versions of the same soda (especially if it has some sour, like citrus).

    One thing the Wiki did tell me is that HFCS is not popular in Europe. The diabetes differential between the US and England should be explainable somehow. You are going to have a hard time convincing me that the British don’t have a taste for sweets. HFCS seems like one of the more likly explanations. Someday we will probably kick ourselves (if we still have feet) for not figuring this out sooner.

  71. also according to the Wiki, HFCS starts from corn starch, rather than corn. So there may be by-products from when the corn is turned into cornstarch.

    the wiki also notes that hfcs comes from genetically modified corn, but we North Americans know that GM corn has been proven safe beyond any doubt in study after study after study (I haven’t read the studies myself, but I have faith). So I doubt that there is a problem on that particular aspect.

  72. You know nothing of homeopathy, Ellie!

  73. Try the URL below for the manufacture of Corn Syrup. Pretty straight forward, if you ask me.

    http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Corn-Syrup.html

  74. Also, I just did a little more arithmetic. The 37.5g of sugar in a 12oz serving of my aforementioned apple juice from this morning is somewhere between 58% and 70% fructose. So somewhere between 21.75g fructose and 26.35g fructose. The 39g of sugar in this Cocacola Classic are 55% fructose, or 21.45g. So, at best, the apple juice and coke are just about equal in their levels of fructose. The apple juice has some nutrients, so it’s probably a shade better on the whole.

    As for why HFCS isn’t popular in Europe, I’m going to guess they’re not beholden to ADM and the US sugar producing lobby.

  75. Timothy raises another possibility which is that Coke and fruit juice are equivalent as diabetes-causers on a per unit volume basis. When was the last time you saw anybody drink a big gulp cup full of apple juice, Timothy?

    I think a diabetes comparison between cane Coke and HFCS coke would be a more apt comparison. Because customers got conditioned to keying their consumption based on the sucrose drink. After those expectations build up for 75 years or so, it is not really fair to up the diabetes causation agent (if that is what happened) and not, you know, alert the market in some fashion. It is not nice to wait for an epidemic disease to start being curious about this kind of thing.

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