Wednesday 30 May 2012

Fruit juice - the new smoking

A poison, cynically packaged with
attractive colours to lure in children

I've mentioned before the well-kept secret that fruit juice contains as much, if not more, sugar than the evil fizzy drinks. That message is now seeping out from 'public health professionals'.

“Juice is just like soda, and I’m saying it right here on camera,” pediatric obesity specialist Robert Lustig said in the documentary “Weight of the Nation,” produced in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There is no difference. When you take fruit and squeeze it, you throw the fiber in the garbage. That was the good part of the fruit. The juice is nature’s way of getting you to eat your fiber.”

Robert Lustig is becoming a familiar figure round these parts. "Nature’s way of getting you to eat your fiber" is a naturalistic fallacy, but then this is a man who thinks that bees were put on earth to stop us eating honey. And if you want fibre, have a Weetabix. He basic point is, however, sound. If you think that fructose is an evil poison (as Lustig does), you have to be against fruit.

When I have compared the calorific content of fruit juice and soda in the past, it has been to highlight the hypocrisy and thinly-veiled class snobbery of the smoothie drinking set. When the mandarins of public health do it, however, it is to take the "next logical step", as the headline indicates.

War on obesity takes aim at fruit juice

It seems that the juice industry ("Big Juice", as they will perhaps soon be known) have been fighting their corner.

Beverage-makers dispute claims that fruit juice and obesity are linked. The Juice Products Association said it supports the pediatrics group’s recommendations on juice but added that “current scientific evidence does not support a relationship between being overweight and juice consumption.” “Scientific evidence strongly maintains the nutritional benefits of 100 percent juice,” the association said. “In fact, studies show that drinking 100 percent fruit juice is associated with a more nutritious diet overall, including reduced intake of dietary fat, saturated fat and added sugars.” As proof, the association cited a cross-sectional study — a snapshot in time — funded by the juice industry that found a correlation between consumption of 100 percent fruit juice and higher nutrient intake in children.

Ooh! An industry-funded study says that fruit juice contains nutrients. We can't believe that now, can we, especially when Barry Popkin says otherwise...

In response, University of North Carolina global nutrition professor Barry Popkin cited six other studies that show correlations between increased fruit juice consumption and increased risk of obesity and diabetes. “There are no studies that show the opposite — that drinking a glass or two of fruit juice each day will have positive long-term health benefits on weight or diabetes [note the carefully narrow selection of diseases mentionedCJS],” added Popkin, author of “The World Is Fat: The Fads, Trends, Policies, and Products That Are Fattening the Human Race.”

Popkin has been waging this battle for some years and is one of the best known figures in the field. Amongst his previous bon mots are “Soft drinks are linked to diabetes and obesity in the way that tobacco is to lung cancer” and “This is a battle like tobacco–only bigger.”

For him, this is the Holy Grail of public health—the new smoking.

Popkin admits that he couldn’t have imagined warning people off fruit juice 10 years ago.

That, frankly, is because the world was less mad ten years ago.

“But it has taken us about a decade to truly understand the role of fruit juice,” he said. “In many countries, soft drink companies have fought hard to replace soft drinks with fruit juice (made by juice companies they bought), but the research has shown fruit juice has the same effect as soft drinks on our health — all adverse, negative and fairly severe.”

Really? Because fruit is sweet, it's all negative? No vitamin C? No energy? No hydration? No antioxidants? What nonsense.

So, here we are. 2012 and fruit juice is being treated like tobacco. Didn't take long did it? Enjoy your glass of tap water and if you're lucky they'll let you have a bit of apple peel.

Not that there's a slippery slope or anything...


Jean said...

That's nothing.
Music is evil. It can make you melancholic or inappropriately merry. People who spend too much time listening to music tend to be kind of absent, and that has an impact on their productivity. That must cost a lot to the economy. Not to mention people who actually make music, those sickos.
The effect of music on the brain hasn't been clinically tested, and there is no evidence that music is completely safe or that it can't favour schizophrenia or other sorts of mental pathology.
With all that, Big Music keeps on marketting music to underage people as if there was no risk involved (which hasn't been clinically tested). Marketting methods are quite sneaky and involve things like playing music.
That makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

The illogical conclusion for the food prohibitionists will be Big Gruel.

Anonymous said...

"But it has taken us about a decade to truly understand the role of fruit juice,” he said. “In many countries, soft drink companies have fought hard to replace soft drinks with fruit juice (made by juice companies they bought), but the research has shown fruit juice has the same effect as soft drinks on our health"

I'm surprised it took you a decade. Back in 1973, when GCSEs were "O" Levels, we were taught in Biology about the relationship between sucrose and fructose when ingested by humans.

Steve Kelly said...

Finally they've convinced me. No more fruit juice, or any food, they're all poisons! From now on I live on nothing but pure unfiltered cigarettes and straight gin.

dearieme said...

I cut down on fruit juice four years ago after reading the cartons to see how much sugar was in them. But then I eat a fair bit of fruit and veg anyway. But, by golly, I do miss a particular Polish brand of cherry juice - wonderfully wonderful. Other people are free to chug the stuff if they want, in my view. We can all read the cartons.

By the by, can anyone recommend brands of baked beans and tomato soup that taste as good as Heinz's, but have much less sugar?

Anonymous said...

@dearieme - to answer your question, no I haven't come across any brands as such but I've discovered the most marvellous recipe which fortuously combines both: you simply take haricot beans (absolutely NOT the tinned variety - too much sugar) soak overnight then boil for two hours; while that's happening (and there's enough time to fit in a session of pilates) you take some fresh tomatoes - but they must be the ones that were plucked from the vine one week before ripening (supermarkets now carry that labelling) and whizz them in the blender, drain the beans and combine them with the tomatoes. For a burst of extra deliciousness, I like to serve with the tip from a stem of basil.

It's all good: fibre from the beans (although you've got to tweak the proportions otherwise you trumpet like an elephant; good sugar from the tomatoes (if you get the ones properly plucked) and, of course, basil has numerous virtues.

It doesn't taste like Heinz but then it doesn't have the nasties that make Heinz taste like Heinz.


nisakiman said...

Blimey, Jay, are you aiming to usurp the cheeky chappie, our much loved Jamie Oliver? The tip from a stem of basil? Gawd, pass me the tin opener! :)

I really don't understand the obsession with sugar, salt, fat, alcohol and smoking. I can't make up my mind whether these people are merely rent-seeking control freaks or whether they actually believe the crap they spout. It's hard to believe there's any altruism driving these pronouncements. But the thing that really staggers me is that the masses believe these harbingers of doom, and follow their advice. In many cases, slavishly.

Sometimes I despair of the human race.

Anonymous said...

@nisakiman ;))


Anonymous said...

A tin of Heinz baked beans nicely warmed in a pan, a couple of slices of bread and butter (not marge or marge substitute) and lashing of brown sauce - luvverly

Farah Mendlesohn said...

A few years back my weight was soaring. We did a break down of what I was eating (and it's worth noting here that I am gluten and lactose intolerant and there wasn't much gf junk food around then--this has since changed). It soon became obvious where the excess calories were. But I didn't give up juice. The solution was to fill the glass maybe a third full and top up with sparkling water. Very tasty, a third of the calories. Now I find pure juice overpoweringly sweet.

LizardWizard said...

Watering down juice with sparkling water is a wonderful way to cut down the calories. It also helps keep hydration levels high (people aren't good at this) and it reduces cost too.

That last one is why I do it. Learning to cut your luxuries with cheap diluents is a good way to save money.

I just hope such treatments don't end up government mandated. Mandatory dilution of juice is very unlikely to match my preferences the way diluting it myself permits.