Sugar Babies: How to Stop the Genocide of Our Children

by

Never before in human history have we seen “adult onset” or type 2 diabetes in children.  There has been an over 1,000% increase in type 2 diabetes in children over the last two decades(1). Fifteen years ago 3% of new cases of diabetes in children were type 2 diabetes.  Now it is 50%(2).   Forty percent of children are now overweight and 2 million are morbidly obese, exceeding the 99th percentile for weight(3).

Scientists say that we have only 3,600 cases of type 2 diabetes in children(4).  Nonsense.  Almost all of those 2 million morbidly obese kids have either pre-diabetes or diabetes or what we should call “diabesity”.  In adults 25% of diabetics and 90% of pre-diabetics are not diagnosed. In children most of the cases are missed(5).

A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that medications don’t work and general lifestyle instruction isn’t much help either to treat type 2 diabetes in children. And the disease is more rapidly progressive and aggressive in children. Kids who haven’t even learned to swallow a pill are now facing giving themselves daily insulin injections.  Poor and minority kids are more heavily afflicted.

Do we really think we can medicate our way out of a bad diet? Can we really overcome the 54 gallons of soda consumed every year by the average American, or the 34 teaspoons of sugar consumed DAILY by the average child in America with a medication(6), or some handouts on eating better?  One of the drugs used in the study, Avandia, has been responsible for over 200,000 deaths from heart attacks since it was introduced in 1999(7).  The Food and Drug Administration has restricted its use. Should we be using this in children?  This is pharmageddon.

Putting these little children on insulin sooner doesn’t make any sense either. Starting insulin in diabetics is a slippery slope, leading to a cascade of increasing weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The sugar comes down, but everything else that kills diabetics gets worse.

Adult diseases are now commonplace in children.  I recently spoke at an Emory University conference on childhood type 2 diabetes.  I met a pediatric gastroenterologist and wondered what he was doing at a conference on diabetes.  He told me he now has 5-year-old patients with cirrhosis from fatty liver caused by years of drinking soda. There has been an over 50% increase in strokes in children aged 5 to 14(8).  We are now seeing heart attacks in teenagers, and twenty year olds needing cardiac bypass surgery because obesity and diabetes clogs their arteries.

This is a disease that is nearly 100% preventable and reversible. But it won’t be solved in the doctor’s office, clinic or hospital.  It has to be fixed where it begins; in our homes, communities and our society and in our government policies and industry practices. This is a social disease and we need a social cure.

This study should be a national wake up call.  A siren blaring the insanity of our current medical approach to obesity and type 2 diabetes for both children and adults.

When a five year old has cirrhosis and an eight year old has a stroke this is not about personal choice or better medication. Now that scientists have proven that fast food and sugar are biologically addictive, we can’t blame the individual or the family. Can a heroin addict just cut down?

We need a massive call to action, a national coordinated multi-pronged campaign. We need President Obama and all the Republican candidates to stand before the nation and declare we will end type 2 diabetes in children by the end of this decade, just like President Kennedy mobilized our nation to get a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s.

The food industry must be held to account.  Simple policy changes could have enormous impact.

The food industry tries to convince us that all calories are the same; that a snack of carrots or Oreos is the same as long as they are 100 calories each. The science proves otherwise.  Sugar calories act differently in the body, driving biology toward diabetes.  And carrots aren’t addictive but sugar is.

The food industry has hijacked our taste buds, our brain chemistry, our kitchens, our homes, our schools and our communities.  When children have nearly unlimited access to sugar and processed food, when we have 600 calories more per day of sugar calories per person than 30 years ago we have to have an honest accounting of the playing field(9).  The food environment is designed for kids and adults to fail.

The SNAP program (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), or food stamps, was started to provide “good food to hungry people” but now provides bad food to the overweight.  While it is true that poverty and obesity go hand in hand because sugar calories and processed food are cheap and because government subsidies lower the prices of corn and wheat products, there is no reason that the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) should put $4 billion of taxpayer money into the coffers of soda manufacturers every year by allowing the use of food stamps to buy soda.

That is more than 29 million a day or 10 billion servings a year of soda that our government feeds the poor in this country.  Then the government pays again through Medicare and Medicaid for obesity and diabetes related illness.  Maybe we should call it the “Supplemental Nutrition Obesity Program”.  You can’t buy alcohol, cigarettes or prepared meals with food stamps, why should kids buy soda with them.

We can’t ignore or accept this any longer.

The food industry blames the victim and tells us we are just lazy, it’s about our sedentary lifestyles. Eat whatever you want, we are told, but just exercise more.  You would have to run 4 miles a day for one week to burn off just ONE fast food meal. That strategy won’t work. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.  Moving is important, but changing the food environment is more important.

We now have a nation where 75% of the applicants for military service are unfit to serve because of obesity(10). The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and two Surgeon Generals have called this a national security issue.  Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes also affects our global economic competitiveness because health disparities lead to an achievement gap. As our kid’s waist sizes grow, their brain power shrinks.

We need community action and policies to support healthy communities. Since our government, corporations and health care institutions fail to provide solutions, mothers stand arm to arm in front of convenience stores to block kids from entering after school.

But there are things that can be done.  We need a grass roots movement and government policies and programs to change the food landscape and the built environment to give our children a chance to have happy, healthy successful lives.  Children with obesity and diabetes live harder poorer lives, they often don’t finish school and earn much less than their healthy counterparts.

We may not be able to win the war in Afghanistan, but we can end this. But it will take an approach that works on all the forces that drive obesity and diabetes in children simultaneously – at home, at school, in local neighborhoods and communities, in the media, and in corporate regulation and government policies that foster health rather than disease.

Here are a few initiatives and ideas that may help shift this frightening tide of poverty and disease:

  1. Stop government subsidies for junk food. Stop or reduce subsidies of agriculture products that allow for the glut of cheap, high-calorie, nutrient-poor sugars and fats from corn, wheat and soy into the marketplace.
  2. Tax sugar. We should tax sugar (and maybe even processed junk food with added sugars.) A one cent per ounce tax would raise $15 billion a year, while a 10 cent per ounce tax could raise $150 billion per year(11). This could support national food programs and community projects to fight obesity and diabetes and promote health, and help cover the hundreds of billions of dollars of health care costs from increasing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.  The food industry has blocked initiatives for this tax in 30 states by pouring millions of dollars into lobbying and donations such as the $10 million Coca-Cola gave to a hospital in Philadelphia to swing the vote in the legislature(12).
  3. End junk food marketing to children.  We are one of the only countries that allow this.  Studies show that the worse the food, the more the marketing.  The average 2 year old can recognize and name junk food from their baby carriage in the supermarket(13).
  4. Fund community-based initiatives. Support healthy eating with community kitchens, gardens, and cooking classes that teach how to make good food cheaply. Children need life skills on how to care for and feed their bodies.  We are raising the first generation of Americans who don’t know how to cook. If implemented, the new health care bill and the new Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health provide avenues to support these programs.
  5. Provide incentives for grocery stores and farmer’s markets in food deserts and all communities.
  6. Make school lunches healthy by providing only real food and modeling healthy eating. Food can be both fun for you and good for you. Create national standards based on sound 21st century nutritional science and common sense. Most schools have only a microwave or deep fryer, hardly the tools needed to feed our children real, fresh food. Any government-supported programs should have strict guidelines for what foods may be served. There is no room for junk food or sugar calories in schools.
  7. Change zoning around schools to limit access to fast food and convenience stores.  We shouldn’t have to rely on parents blockading junk food stores after school, as a group of parents did in Philadelphia. We shouldn’t make it easy to get bad food!
  8. The FDA should regulate sugar as a drug, not as a “GRAS” or generally recognized as safe substance.  It is a known toxin and is deadly when consumed in large quantities.

What are you doing in your home, your family, in your schools and communities to end the attack on our children and our nation’s future?  We have the power to take back our health.  It starts with small choices, local action and political advocacy.  Now more than ever we have the collective power to change this.  Let’s do it for our children’s sake.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

Do you have local programs in your schools to encourage healthy meals?

Are there any cooking classes offered to children in your community?

Have your children reduced or eliminated sugar from their diets?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

1. Ludwig DS, Ebbeling CB. Type 2 diabetes mellitus in children: primary care and public health considerations. JAMA. 2001 Sep 26;286(12):1427-30.
2.Pinhas-Hamiel O, Zeitler P. The global spread of type 2 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents. J Pediatr 2005;146:693-700
3. Murtagh L, Ludwig DS. State intervention in life-threatening childhood obesity. JAMA. 2011 Jul 13;306(2):206-7.
4. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/health/research/obesity-and-type-2-diabetes-cases-take-toll-on-children.html?_r=1&hp
5. www.unitedhealthgroup.com/hrm/unh_workingpaper5.pdf
6. Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012 Feb 1;482(7383):27-9.
7. Nissen SE, Wolski K. Rosiglitazone revisited: an updated meta-analysis of risk for myocardial infarction and cardiovascular mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jul 26;170(14):1191-1201.
8. Tong, American Stroke Association, Annual Meeting 2011 (abs)
9. Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012 Feb 1;482(7383):27-9.
10. Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012 Feb 1;482(7383):27-9. And personal communication General Jack Keane
11. Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012 Feb 1;482(7383):27-9.
12. Personal communication NY State Commissioner of Health
13. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2005/Food-Marketing-to-Children-and-Youth-Threat-or-Opportunity.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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115 Responses to Sugar Babies: How to Stop the Genocide of Our Children

  1. Nikhil Hogan May 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    Dr. Hyman, thanks for talking about the dangers of sugar. However, I think an interventionist approach to the problem in the manner of incentives, subsidies, taxation and regulation is not a good approach. I agree that we should end subsidies to food companies but I would shy away from the heavy hand of government.

    • John July 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

      Ok, but you do realize that diabesity is going not only bankrupt hundreds of hospitals, it most likely will bankrupt the Federal Government. Thanks!

    • Daniel August 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      How about we shy away from the heavy hand of the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry and let the government provide some common sense regulation? Incentives won’t work, especially for the poor who typically represent these kids. The incentive now is cheap crap food – and it’s killing our kids and will bankrupt our country and health care system.

  2. mike pollard May 5, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    Thanks Dr Hyman for a powerful and cogent article.

    I’ve just about dumped all sugar and am educating my 19 and 9 year old boys. Drip by drip (approaching a torrent) I will lead them to be making the choices that will allow them a mouth full of cavity free teeth and maintaining a healthy metabolism for life.
    Thanks again for all you hard work – I shall be using this article as a wake up call to the ill informed.

  3. Tabby May 5, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    I agree with everything but the TAX crap. Shame on you. Create another government nightmare bureaucracy that will just spend everything on the bureaucracy and almost nothing on the program.

    We see this everywhere. Where the government administrators and their bureacrats spend the money lavishly on new offices, buildings, furniture, their pensions, retirement funds, endless meetings and on and on…….

    No, we just need common sense, it’s free and only needs to be tapped from one’s self and like-minded others. And speaking of that why don’t you just send them over to the Weston A. Price organization which teaches people to eat like their ancestors and have perfect teeth and sound minds. But practice the kosher version.

    Give them your money instead with a cheap membership but PRICELESS advice.

  4. Darlene Pirrello May 5, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Just an addendum to your article. Folks can now use their EBT cards (food stamp cards) to buy food at Jack in the Box. Nice, huh? We can just buy a case of soda at the grocery store and pick up a few cheeseburgers to go with it….all compliments of the government.There may be others that do this also, but I just happened to notice the signs at J-I-B.

    Don’t take this wrong….I am not against food stamps, there are those who definitely need the help, and I am all for helping those who truly have a need, but allowing fast food places to sell for food stamps when it is no better for our health than alcohol and cigarettes is just not right. How can we get people to learn to eat properly when the government encourages junk food purchases with food stamps?

    • Joan July 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      I am stunned about the ability to purchase food at JIB. I have been on assistance with an EBT card but there are many restrictions here in MN on the items available for purchase. Firstly, if it is a ‘name-brand’ soda, the food assistance will not pay for it. I say that because Wal-Mart brand soda doesn’t register; thus, we can purchase these 2L bottles on assistance.
      The other comment I’d like to make is about different cities in MN. Where I’m from doesn’t allow for purchases outside of a physical brick & mortar store. In our new city, a twin cities suburb, we could use our EBT card at farmers markets! This allows everyone the opportunity to have access to good, natural foods.

      • Michelle Melson Mock August 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

        Joan – That’s fantastic that the EBT card can
        be used at your local farmers markets!

  5. Ross May 5, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    I am total agreement….how perverse has our world become when there are more overweight people in the world than undernourished…..and remember you don’t have to be overweight or obese to be a candidate for Type II diabetes…

    • Melisa May 10, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      I agree with your statement except that I would contend that a majority of overweight people ARE undernourished and their bodies loaded with toxins from the low quality food they eat. A person simply can’t receive the nourishment they need from food that isn’t real food, not to mention the body holds onto fat to buffer these toxins. Perhaps the term should be ‘overfed’.

  6. Onoosh May 5, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Bingo! This approach is spot-on, but would take too much political backbone on both sides of the aisle for government to implement in the face of heavy lobbying from the food industry. Local approaches will be critical here: concerned parents who “get” it, persistently campaigning in local schools and at school board meetings, will probably be more effective than action the Federal government takes…or, more likely, doesn’t. Keep up the good, informative work, Dr. H! Your book ought to be required reading.

  7. Maricarmen Rivera May 5, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    Totally agree with the article; government should limit access to fast food and convenience stores around schools. As a Certified Personal Trainer and Youth Fitness Specialist committed to fight obesity in children, I founded a fitness and nutrition center addressed to children K-12. Among other fitness classes, we are going to offer fun-cooking workshops where the kids will learn how to prepare healthy breakfast, juices with fruits and vegetables and snacks. At the same time the kids are preparing the healthy food, there will be a licensed nutritionist explaining the nutritional value of each ingredient.

  8. maria May 5, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Great article! Such a misunderstood issue in our society. Right on Dr. Hyman!

  9. Hillary DeCecchis May 5, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Dr. Hyman,

    This is the soapbox upon which I stand! It absolutely kills me to see our children being highjacked by the industrial food system. I do everything I can within our home to provide our two teenagers and one pre-teen with healthy, honest food. In our house we openly talk about sex, drugs AND food … choose wisely because the consequences can be life altering!

    I’ve been teaching the Daniel Plan for a year and a half now in order to help educate parents, grandparents and families on how to live life feeling great.

    Thank you for your work!

  10. Dawn L. Sonntag May 5, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    This country desperately needs ALL physicians make nutritional education their number one priority. And they need to educate themselves first. I can’t tell you how often friends and family have told me that my views on sugar – which I learned from medical experts like you – are “extreme,” and how “moderation” is best.”Moderation” is of course very subjective. To some, it means “only” one soda and fast-food meal a day. To some, eating one slice of tomato and a little piece of lettuce on a hamburger means that they are “eating vegetables.” Doctors should routinely give patients detailed questionnaire about their diet. Of course, they “don’t have time.” Clearly, the whole system – from medical school training to insurance – is designed to support the chemical industry, not health.

    To most people, especially the less-educated, whatever a doctor says is the gospel truth. Physicians are treated as god-like. Until all physicians start telling all patients, “Sugar is poison,” and telling them about the real effects of insulin, as well as the real effects of sugar consumption – from obesity to diabetes to cancer and heart disease, individuals will not change their diets and will not support politicians trying to enforce false advertising laws. Politicians will not fight for such measures unless they are sure doing so will not jeopardize their careers.

    If physicians would unite, educate themselves, and educate their patients, this problem could be solved. Until that happens, the problem is only going to get worse.

    • Joan July 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      I genuinely agree with every comment stated above, especially about the support on the pharmaceutical industry! I just checked out (and ready to dive into!) a book called Over Duagnosed – how people are diagnosed in the name of health, but really supporting the medication industry!
      Another book I own Is called ‘Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know’. It talks about natural food cures to your ailments — a great resource!
      One last resource I’ve seen & believe in is a mobie called Food Matters. Absolutely brilliant & focused on the issue of healthy eating, role of medications, & how to change them. MUST SEE! it’s even on Netflix now if you have an account.

    • Leaf Eating Carnivore July 30, 2012 at 3:28 am #

      I desperately hate the phrase “Moderation in All Things”. It’s the lazy persons substitute for thought, and a self-righteous rationalization for doing what you bloody well please.

      A moderate helping of arsenic every day? Used to be fashionable in Napoleon’s era, to “make the complexion white”. Moderate hitchhiking? A good way to get killed. Moderate unprotected sex? Got Aids? Got baby? And so on…

      There are things that should be taken in relatively large amounts (like water), things that should be indulged in more temperate measure (like food), things that should be approached with caution (like medications, television, computers, social media – which latter three are demonstrably rewiring your brain, and not for the better), and things which should be consigned to oblivion (soda, for one).

      And there IS a place for government in this conversation: as OUR tool, giving us the means to improve our lives. Not the craven lackey of AgriBiz and Big Pharma and the rest of the dishonest, feeding us shit information in order to sell more shit stuff, you, me and this country be damned.

      Don’t bother calling me an “Elitist Liberal Snob” – Surprise! I want you to live a long and healthy life too, if you so choose. Just quit dragging the rest of the world down with you, if you want to be Fierce, Proud and Stupid.

    • Daniel August 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      The majority of physicians don’t even take one course in nutrition in medical school. Mark Hyman is the exception, not the rule.

      Most docs don’t know anything about nutrition and most medical schools don’t even teach it. Also, Docs don’t have time to provide nutrition education even if they had it.. they are too busy double booking patients to be able to afford the costs associated with insurance reimbursement and collection.

      Our health care system is a disaster.

  11. Auntiegrav May 5, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Instead of just taxing sugar, ALL taxes should be sales taxes. Sugar, carbon, gasoline, etc taxes just create opportunities for loopholes. We demand the overhead (government, etc) when we buy anything. The movement of cash out of local communities destroys their usefulness by extracting the wealth of local resources (including children when they graduate or join the military).
    It’s all about the cashflow, so tax ALL of the cashflows.

    Sugar is just ONE of our consumption problems.

  12. Sylvia Alakusheva May 5, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Thank you Dr. Hyman for this excellent article! The statistics are staggering. It is time for us to wake up and do something about the obesity epidemic in America and the drastic raise of type 2 diabetes in children.
    Coincidentally, I am teaching a workshop on the dangers of sugar this afternoon, so I will use some of the numbers you listed above to remind people of the severity of this problem.

    Thank you,
    Sylvia

  13. Doctorsh May 5, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Well stated facts on the dietary consequences of the standard American diet on children and adults.
    But the question should be what got us to this point, and how do we change it?

    Govt recommendations, regulations, laws and programs got us into this mess. Asking the government for even more of the above will just make it worse.

    Educate, educate, educate parents and teachers of the dangers of sugar. It is a slow process, but will ultimately be more successful.

  14. Belle May 5, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Dr. Hyman is 100% right about the garbage fed to children. One of the worst offenders is our public schools that provide “free” breakfasts, mid-morning snacks, lunch, and after school snacks. All of these are high carb and loaded with sugar.

    My mother was a homemaker and a wonderful cook who prepared delicious meat and fresh vegetables for us every day. Unfortunately, her wonderful profession has fallen out of favor. Now women put their children in daycare at 3 months of age to hurry back to work. Tired and pressed for time, it is easy for them to go to the drive-through at McDonalds or call Pizza Hut. Breakfast is a bowl of Fruit Loops and hormone/antibiotic laden milk. Sadly, there is very little desire to change.

    Good luck, Dr. Hyman, with your crusade. I am afraid it is Quixotic.

    • Mayra Montrose May 7, 2012 at 9:14 am #

      This is an excellent article. Do not blame working mothers, though! I work a full time job in the greater DC area, yet make time to cook homemade meals for my family. I participate in a farming co-op, buy fresh at farmer’s markets, and only eat out once a week (on Fridays) and never fast food. (My children ate at a McDonald’s ONCE and declared it DISGUSTING.) In addition, my children participate in food making at home. It is their after school/before dinner break. They help plan the menus and are learning cooking techniques. Finally, neither one of my kids eats school-provided meals. They say the school cafeteria food does not smell right.

      I think the key, as Dr. Hyman writes, is two fold: access and education. Once the palate gets used to real, fresh food it does not crave junk. I have been to low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore where it is extremely difficult to find a banana or any snack that does not have trans-fats, corn syrup, or is loaded with preservatives. What are folks to do if they can’t get their food vendors to provide fresh foods?

      The first lady, Michelle Obama, has made nutrition education her personal cause. I think that the first lady’s example can go a long way, but there is still the issue of access!

      • Grace July 30, 2012 at 1:20 am #

        That you are an exception does not make Belle wrong. It is very hard for me to cook homemade meals for my kids. We used to eat out regularly (not to mention all the convenience & boxed foods). It was only when they started having allergy & health issues that I began educating myself & feeding them better. I have lost track of the number of moms who have told me they don’t have time to cook from scratch. I have yet to meet one who was not a stay at home mom who did so regularly.

    • LRD May 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      I totally agree with Belle – my 12 year old stepson always ate healthy home-packed lunches until stating middle school this year. He begged to “eat the school lunches like all his other friends”. I relented.

      He eats school’s breakfast’s white flour pancakes or French Toast Sticks with margarine and fake “syrup” ( the ingredients in this “breakfast syrup” are equal to concentrated Coca-Cola without the carbonation) or white flour bagel and cream cheese/ jelly.

      For school lunches: pizza, cheeseburgers, french fries, tator tots, deep fried chicken fingers ( his favorite). He knows he is not allowed to get soda, but he gets “orange-flavored water” -ingredients : high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, artificial flavor. The fruit is canned fruit cocktail or canned peaches, boiled and added with more HFCS.

      Unbelievable.

    • Kelly July 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      Although not free, I am shocked at what is offered for “breakfast” at our school. Some form of doughnut and chocolate milk. No wonder our kids are fat.

      As far as women working out the the home, that in itself is another overconsumption issue. As we strive to be like the Joneses and aquire more and more crap, women end up having to work to make ends meet. I’m not saying that women shouldn’t work, or that some women don’t prefer working out of the home, but I’m just looking at my own situation. Until we cut back on our lifestyle, I had to work full time so we didn’t go bankrupt. Now that we’ve decreased our consumerism and paid off our debt, I am able to work part time, and love it.

      Anyway, I’m a recent convert to healthier eating, but still struggle with my kids picky eating. They are eating healthier, but my one child will touch no other vegetable besides carrots, and the only fruits he will eat are apples and pears. When you’ve already spoiled their taste buds with sugar & bad food, how do you get them to even try good food?

  15. Chas May 5, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    The claim that “75% of the applicants for military service are unfit to serve because of obesity.” is incorrect. This appears to have been a misreading of reports from 2009 that stated that 75 percent of applicants were being turned down for a set of reasons, including 35 percent for obesity or health reasons:
    http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/11/military_unfityouths_recruiting_110309w/

  16. Brooke May 5, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    It is so sad. It made me think of the ongoing, decades long campaign to get people to stop smoking. If those images and the cost for a pack dont stop them, nothing will. And teens are beginning smoking in bigger numbers every year.
    That being said, am older and get food stamps and I am really surprised at what you can buy with them. The goverment could limit that but, with the big food lobbyists, it wont be done. It is a “subsidy” and you certainly cannot buy all your monthly food with it so, it could easily be for just fresh foods and tax the hell out of soda, etc. It would come to a grinding halt at least in that part of society. This is from a much deeper problem with the whole lobbying system in our government.
    I gave up soda years ago but, wow, everyone drinks it! It is just chemicals and sugar. When you see that people dont even care about that, then, what have you got??? It is mass addiction. People get mad at me if I even suggest it is bad for them but, I cant beleive they dont see it.
    I am not givng up tho and neither should you. You are changing lives and we can do it on a grass roots level. By our votes and lifestyle examples and influence in our circle of friends, especially kids.

  17. Richard David Feinman May 5, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    You describe the problem well but you won’t get a grassroots movement if you hold to ideas that your potential allies disagree with. Sugar is a cheap shot and especially for kids with diabetes is probably less dangerous than starch (probably greater dysregulation of glucose-insulin axis). When you say “The FDA should regulate sugar as a drug,” you completely turn off professors of biochemistry. And you are not any more of an expert than I am on taxation but when they tax sodas and people drink more water, will the water bottlers keep prices the same, or raise them? In fact, have you thought this out at all? It is not the food marketers who turn to drugs first and do not take the trouble to understand carbohydrate restriction.
    Rather than using the power of government to tax something because you think it is unhealthy, how about investigation and education.

    :On information, I have offered 15 theses on diabetes and carbohydrate restriction which might help http://wp.me/p16vK0-c3

    I suggest the following three strategies that we should ask our elected officials for:

    1.Open hearings on nutrition in which all credentialed researchers participate and, in particular, researchers in low
    2. carbohydrate diets meet with their critics (a kind of Diet of Worms).
    Funding of a comparative study in which researchers in carbohydrate restriction and experts in other diets cooperate in the design and analysis of outcomes. Possible results and their meaning are agreed upon in advance and finally,
    3. New oversight agencies (possibly from National Science Foundation or Office of Science and Technology Policy) where truly neutral scientists can evaluate information and make recommendations (or not if there is no evidence).

    If you insist that you know the answer and you will tax and punish you may wind up with un-intended consequences; the people who insisted that we need margarine instead of butter were in the same mind set as you are. Also, if your approach is to inflict you will on others, you have to anticipate what behavioral psychologists call counter-control, that is people will rebel and there will be more conflict and little progress or, as Shakespeare put it “we do but teach bloody instruction which, being taught, returns to plague the inventor.”

    The call for more information and all voices being heard will get you grass-roots but I don’t know that I want you taxing what my kid eats anymore than the next guy.

  18. Tom May 5, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    A noble call to action, Dr. Hyman, but I’m afraid most of America is too dumbed down now, too addicted to sugar, wheat, and dairy, and too tired to rise up in the necessary numbers to support this kind of grass-roots movement. Very few people have the insight to take preventative action with their health; the vast majority wait until they have a health crisis before they even think about doing something about it.

    And the government has no interest in helping people live too much past retirement age.

    The Corporatocracy of America controls the media, and will sooner or later take control of the internet so that voices of reason and beacons of light such as yourself will be censored or confined to a very small corner reserved for extremists and quacks whose views are lumped together and publicly “debunked”.

    • john rogers May 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      i hear you loud and clear, but i would add that whatever any of us can do in opposition to this insane ignorance is worth doing and i would not give up or surrender to this for a minute.

  19. Linda May 5, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Our son has had a packed lunch for school every day. Public school lunches often aren’t fit to feed to pigs. Have already been doing the supplements you recommend, but recently have been weaning him off gluten – and have seen an improvement in his ADHD.

  20. john rogers May 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    i have held cooking classes at a yearly homeless fair in honolulu, Hawaii to teach homeless how to cook on a cheap propane burner healthy vegetable dishes that they can easily do even being homeless! it was well recieved. i made asparagus-tomato stir fry with parmessan cheese, brown rice with guacamole and other plant based dishes. I explained how diet helps chronic illness, that HFCS is death, cancer causing, cardiovascular system death in no uncertain terms. i showed them where to easily get cheap produce in china town, at farmers markets etc and how to store produce etc. the person running the fair thought i should have more sweet and fat ingredients in my dishes, i disagreed adamatly to that comment. my dishes are super delicious, cheap and easy. i encourage everyone to embrace the vegetable kingdom, herbs, spices etc to make delicious food because food should taste great!

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      John, I applaud you for what you are doing! Teaching a whole-food, plant-based diet is the key to improving the health of this nation and lowering healthcare costs significantly. All people, not just the homeless, will benefit from this approach. It is a crime what the schools are feeding our children. PopTarts for breakfast are so bad for their growing brains. I am so glad Dr. Hyman mentioned the travesty of the school-lunch programs in this country. I do not agree with taxing sugar for the reasons other posters have stated, but I totally agree that the govenrment should change the food stamp laws so people CANNOT buy junk foods and sodas with them. There also has to be continued education of doctors so they know what to tell their patients. My PCP told me sugar does not cause diabetes, but he was very wrong about a lot of other things as well.

      I think it is wonderful that you are working with the homeless to teach them how to eat healthy. I have been giving out the DVD “Jeff Novick’s Fast Food” to people who say they do not have the time and/or money to eat healthy meals. I also bought 20 of the DVD “Eating” to pass out to people to educate them about healthy eating and what is happening to them and to our planet when they do not eat well. Of course, I promote all of Dr. Hyman’s books all the time. I have a passion for helping people get and stay healthy and feel that there is so much we all can be doing to reach our goals.

  21. Avatar of CaFe
    CaFe May 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    I’m new to Dr. Hyman’s Blood Sugar Solution program but when I read this article it brought it home to me how imperative it is for us to stop this cycle for our generation and for generations to come. I started my own personal program just last month and already know that it will work for me and I will get more healthy.

  22. Rhonda Howell May 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Government is not the answer. Government is what got us into this mess. We have dumbed down people in our education system that they can’t even parent their own children. We have children raising children. Our school system is too busy socializing our kids into zombies that when they have children they don’t know how to take care of them. And true our children are being raised by daycare workers and schools. Children already eat breakfast and lunch at so called healthy lunch schools. We need to teach people how to raise kids in the right way not all this garbage we get from liberal media and liberal government. Moms cant even stay at home to raise their kids cuz they have to make ends meet and many are single parents. All because of the socialistic, immorality we are pumping into our school kids. I am glad to hear someone finally say that too much sugar causes diabetes. I am not sure we can even begin to undo the damage we have done to our society.

  23. Ellen May 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    This is one of the best, no-nonsense articles about one of the gravest situations that we are all facing in America today….it’s as if our culture is sleeping at the wheel….who are we kidding…..if we don’t deal with this situation now, it will only get worse! I applaud your frankness…..and for addressing the real culprits…..and it’s not the kids….we have great kids that have been dealt a low blow packed with lies! Please keep writing these articles and talking no-nonsense about SUGAR, PROCESSED FOODS, SODA AND JUNK FOOD!!!! We must all wake up!!!
    I cam from a family of obese people…I remember how freaky my father was at 365 pounds…there weren’t alot of obese people back then…..people stared at him alot…sadly, today he’d fit right in if he hadn’t died at 56 years of age from OBESITY and it’s ugly side effects.
    Thanks for your honesty,
    Ellen Newhouse

  24. Carol Frey May 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Finally – the truth about the health of our nation and the responsibility we have to our own bodies as well as the responsibility to protect our children from the almighty dollar and the greed of those who have hijacked our agriculture and our food. It’s time we took responsibility for our own health instead of allowing the government and agribusiness to “fix” all our problems through taking over “for” us! It’s how we got into this mess of “prescribing” medications instead of addressing the causes of the symptoms. Assigning responsibility for what we need to be held accountable for never works. Thank you, Dr. Hyman. I’m behind you 100%!

  25. Art May 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    We should not be placing a sin tax on all sugar. I am afraid that personal choice is the only way to go in an open and free society. If the food programs in schools are forced by the government to serve specific foods, it is fine since the government is paying for the meal. The same goes for SNAP participants, the government (taxpayers) pays for it. Concerning the marketing towards children it is a free country and it is the responsibility of the PARENTS to control what a child stuffs into his/her mouth. A law prohibiting the sale of “junk food” is probably a better way to go.

    Sugar should not be controled as a drug since it is in every plant we consume. Do you really think we should be taxing our broccoli and other vegetables. What about fruits and nuts, should they be taxed. I think you are way too radical with some of your views towards marketing and taxes.

  26. Jean May 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Thanks for your valiant efforts in bringing the truth to the forefront of this conversation on what amounts to terrible neglect of our nation’s children. Alas, I know too well what a battle we have on our hands.
    We have a healthy diet in our house and my boys are fit as little Jackie Chans but they go to the store with me and look around and see their friends eating Oreos in school at lunch. They want what they don’t have and also have their Mother’s sugar genes and crave sugar without the hormonal fluctuations to blame! What does a mother do to counter that powerful chemical pull?!

  27. Gigi Christensen May 5, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Here in Boulder County, Colorado we do have Ann Cooper on board to revamp our school lunch program. Sweets like cakes and cookies are now a treat and not a daily indulgence. My mom used to cook in my school as a kid and I can remember having sweet treats every single day. And then again at home for dinner. No wonder I consider myself a sugar addict!!!! I have two kids, ages 11 and 16, and they both love their sugar. Feel like their friends consume more though as they are drinking things like soda pop regularly. We just bring soda in the house every once in a while. We are lucky enough to have a great kid’s cooking school (Stir It Up) in town. Both kids have taken classes there and love to cook. My kids also love greens…..they fight over kale chips and their favorite meal is poached eggs on a bed of cooked swiss chard with mushrooms and garlic :)

  28. MichaelB May 5, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    It’s so unfortunate that I many people are not going to like what I have to say but I must speak the truth and nothing but the truth because the truth is what I believe counts no matter what the consequences are. In my humble opinion which I have always believed and always seems to confirm my suspicion of why we are in this mess. It basically started with the late President Lyndon Johnson’s successful push for his vision of “The Great Society”. In his vision, everyone gets served pretty much with a silver spoon in their mouths so to speak which caused the dumbing down of our educational system and where critical thinking eventually went by the wayside through the 60′s, 70′s and beyond. As a sad result, most adults today lack critical thinking and have become so lazy that they never bother to look into food labels and what they mean as well as becoming ever so self centered, that they truly either don’t have a clue as to their children’s development or too self fish to bother finding out what’s going on around them. In order to change this and reverse this awful trend, we must go back to the basics of living and give the back the authority to the parents, the teacher, the principles and to the most local hiarchies. Discipline must again be taught at home and in the class room as well as the very basics like reading, writing and arithmetic as well as critical thinking. I think that critical thinking for example is not being taught anymore to most young people and this type of training must be brought back or our society will drift further into more chaos!!!

  29. Mike May 5, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    While I totally agree with the problem, the answer is NOTmore governmental regulation/control. We need to wean away from thinking the government can solve all problems (when in fact they usually cause them).

    Getting the government out of the way is usually the first step to a solution. Yes, stop the asinine subsidies for all things HFCS/corn and soy based frankenfoods. But also, why are we not encouraging more private type schools? The control of the government over public schools is near total- including what is served for lunch. A more nutritious food service could be set up and competitively bid on if not for the union control of the food service and it’s employees.

    Taxing sugar- use the money to pay for health care- are you serious? How about taxing butter?, taxing sports gear (to pay for injuries), taxing butter (to pay for heart attacks), taxing medicines (to pay for medication related complications!). And so on, and so on.,.

    Fund Community Based initiatives ?? To pay for “kitchens, gardens, and cooking classes”? Paid for by whom? To what end? You consider this realistic? Please- cite any such program that has been a success at teaching children to make good foods cheaply.

    Dr. Hymen, to push for more taxes, and more spending and more regulation on the federal level is just not going to work nor solve the problem. Surely you can rethink some of this and come up with free-market solutions! And may God help us all if Obamacare is implemented as you hope. We could have a rather lengthy discussion concerning the disaster in waiting that is named Obamacare…

    “Empty your cup” and let’s not rely on an all-government solution. You can do better…. many of the problems you bring up are due to well intentioned yet disastrous consequences- programs such as food stamps.

    Have more faith in the free market undistorted by excessive regulation and progressive ideology.

    Back to the drawing board…

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

      Dr. Antonia Demas, Ph.D. has a very effective program for teaching children in the public schools to cook and eat vegetables. Check out the Food Studies Instutute and Food For Life program. It is very impressive what her programs have accomplished with children who had NEVER even heard of vegetables. She even got the public schools to let her programs into their schools. She is amazing! It can be done guys!

  30. Doug Baumber May 6, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    People need to wake up. I have treated fat disgusting parents who feed their kids this garbage. I get them to change the diet. Their kids are often special”ie at the bottom end of intellectual function”. I have had these kids in one month go from special school to ready to go to normal school. In every case the stupid parents have gone back to what they were doing…and made the kid special again. In the end i just became angry with these parents. Even screamed at them. ” Do you realise what you are doing? You are setting up your child to be retarded for the rest of their life” .These parents do not deserve sympathy.They should have their kids taken from them. Feed ing your child manufactured processed food and coke should be considered child abuse of the highest order. At my daughters school their is a “special” read politiaclly correct for a bolt short of a nut.The mother gives the child (age 8) a Redbull for breakfast and hungry jacks for dinner.My daughter for a while started to take food from our house for the child and surprise he had great improvements. The mother claims she is to busy and not enough money to feed her kid. Eggs cost 2.00 a dozen. you can buy grass fed beef at 5.00 a kilo. I just made a bone broth soup that gave us 15 meals for just six dollars. and we are all tall muscular and eat 3 times the average person so it would have been 45 meals for the average. We have to stop being polite and start treating these kind of parents as child abusers. If they don’t know it is becasue of ignorance by lies perpetrated in the media and perhaps ignorance from previous generations,If they continue doing it when they know it is deliberately harming their children screwing up their life.

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      I agree with you 100%. I also work with people with developmental disabilities and am so frustrated because they consume and are addicted to sugary sodas, but I cannot get their case workers on board because they are just as addicted as the clients, maybe more so in some cases. I am also appalled by the sheer number of junk food and junk drink machines lining the walls of the cafeterias at the workshops operated by the developmental disabilities boards. This gives the clients the message that it is okay to consume this poison. It is not just the schools that need fixed!

      It is so great to hear that a healthy diet can improve cognitive functioning in your students. I am a psychologist and have thought for a long time that what we eat has a huge influence on our mental and physical health. That is why I just completed a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition so I can work with my clients and their staff and families to provide better nutrition information. It is not expensive to eat healthy, and in the long run, is a lot less expensive than prescription drugs and surgery.

    • Zaria July 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      I totally agree! But the worst part is that even if you try and do your best at home, the kids get exposed to junk food at school from their friends. Once they get hooked on sugar it seems like a loosing battle.
      My kids were raised vegetarian, almost vegan (we do eat organic eggs) and no sugar. Their treats were raisins and dates and recently I learned how to make some raw and frozen desserts that they love. We eat fresh fruits only for breakfast, lots of salads, vegetables, nuts and seeds, avocados, yams, some whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice), beans and eggs. We always cook from scratch and eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables (and I work full time). We rarely go out.
      My son started school in 4th grade (he was homeschooled before) and for a couple of years didn’t make any friends and was actually teased by his classmates for eating fruits and nuts for lunch. But then he discovered Rita’s water Ice on his way from school…
      My older daughter wasn’t as strong, withing 2 weeks of starting school (in 3rd grade) she got sick from eating her friend’s junk food. After spending her own money she started stealing from her brother to buy junk food in school cafeteria. I had to write a letter to the staff to let them know that they were not allowed to sell her anything (she always had her own lunch). After many talks and cries she admitted that she wanted to stop eating junk, but sometimes just couldn’t (typical sign of addiction). Things did get better and she tries her best, but falls of the wagon easily (she’s only 11).
      My youngest went to Kindergarten last year. They were allowed to bring 1 snack since it was only 2.5 hours. I always gave her a piece of fruit and some nuts. She always had lunch at home just before going to school so she really wasn’t hungry anyway. After couple of months she discovered that the kids that didn’t bring a snack got cookies from the teacher (how thoughtful of her!!!). So she told her teacher that she didn’t have a snack for 2 days and brought her fruits home telling me that she didn’t have the time to eat them. Good thing that after the second day her teacher wrote me a note questioning why I didn’t send any snacks to school. I couldn’t believe that after watching her eat the fruits for 2 months she felt that it was OK to give her cookies without asking me first!!!
      I wrote her a note saying that my girl had gluten sensitivities and was not allowed to eat cookies (I haven’t had her tested yet, but she probably does since I do).
      Even though I agree that they need do something about school lunches, but I think the problem really starts at home. Kids eat whatever the parents feed them especially when they are little and after that it’s the addiction that takes over. Education needs to start with the parents and their unhealthy habits.
      I agree that the sugar tax may not help much, that’s not the only problem. But I do agree that it’s our corrupted government and subsidies that go towards growing GMO corn, soy, wheat, sugar and traditional animal farms that cause the problem. If they subsidized organically grown food, it would be cheaper and no one would have the excuse that it costs too much. It would also be better for our planet and for future generations.
      Unfortunately this country is run by food industry and big pharma and human lives don’t mean much. It’s the profits that count. Until that changes we will not see much improvement. You can’t take away food from food-addicts and expect them to be happy about it, unless they make the decission on their own. It has to start with education.
      Thanks Dr. Hyman for trying to educate us!!!

  31. Bess Blanco May 6, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Dr Hyman,
    I have the utmost respect for you, and I am inspired every time I open these emails, please keep this VALUABLE and oh-so-important information coming. I use it as “Dr approved” info in my own cooking classes, coaching programs, etc as I am a family health coach on a mission to influence as many individuals & families as I can to get off sugar, and get on whole foods. I pore over every book you’ve released, I truly appreciate the stuff you bring! I have found that when I speak of your position (that you’re a doctor), I immediately gain more respect and listening ears – interesting how our culture works.
    I became an impassioned health coach a yr and a half ago after my own family and I (hubby and four kids) got off sugar (a not-so-easy process!)
    We found that the resources out there for entire families wanting to get off sugar and eat more whole foods are slim to none, so I began to create some! I now have a website w/ a community, weekly family radio show, free webinars, a family cookbook, and I teach cooking classes and coach groups! My listeners, followers, and clients tell me they can feel/hear me there with them now at the grocery store, restaurants, in their kitchens! Ha ha It’s working!!!
    Anyway, thanks again, Dr Hyman – I truly appreciate you and the work you are doing! THANK YOU, thank you, thank you!
    Warmly, Bess

  32. Shirley May 6, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Critical thinking? Parent responsibiity? Yes, partly to blame but when the American Heart Association makes recommendations that are based on biased science and accept money from food manufacturers to put their stamp on “healthy foods” your average parent tends to believe them. I do and I’m a nurse, so am I guilty of not using critical thinking? When the American Diabetic Assocation (ADA) continues to recommend high carbohydrate foods for a disease that results in an inability to metabolize carbohydrates, is that the lack of critical thinking of parents? When the ADA continues to receive fuding from the major soft drink manufacturers and people become aware of it, then we should be talking lack of critical thinking on the part of the American public. When the researchers and “experts” set standards for cholesterol levels and don’t reveal they have received monies from pharmaceutical companies and/or own stock in a company that manufacturers statin drugs, is that the lack of critical thinking on the parent’s part? Unfortunately the research bias and money that is provided by food industries and big pharma will continue to support doing what is profitable for them. The health of the American people have no impact on their decision making.

    I am a registered nurse in a public school division and every day I watch our school children eat high carb foods and drink skim milk because that’s what the USDA says we must provide in order to receive funding for meals. We wonder why diabetes and obesity are on the rise? I don’t because I see that we are actively promoting diabetes and obesity.

    It is truly sad when you can no longer trust those organizations that should be looking out for the health of our people. The lack of critical thinking is sadly on the part of the American people who don’t question the recommendations of those “expert” government organizations . A drug rep once said to me “there’s no money in prevention, only in treatment”. That was very revealing.

  33. Avatar of CaFe
    CaFe May 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I’m new to Dr. Hyman’s Blood Sugar Solution program but when I read this article it brought it home to me how imperative it is for us to stop this cycle for our generation and for generations to come. I started my own personal program just last month and already know that it will work for me and I will get more healthy.

  34. SharonW May 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    It is a common myth that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program use only microwaves and deep fat fryers. Fryers are largely missing from school kitchens. Also the standards for school meals have recently been upgraded even further, but additional funding for high quality foods is not there, and there is no public support for the school cafeteria any more than there is for public education. On the national scene it is all about austerity for these programs but more spending on military and more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We all want to pick on the school nutrition programs because they can be governed and legislated into oblivion. No one would dare pass laws prohibiting marketing junk foods to little kids.
    Further, the recent legislative action to cripple the new healthier food standards to reject the mandate not to serve fries or other starchy vegetables and to limit serving commercially prepared frozen pizzas was a direct result of lobbying from the food industry concerned about their profits.
    The food industries cry foul and offer to “self regulate” when it comes to the foods served in fast food places and restaurants. Many of them do offer a healthy alternative – so I guess it is better to have a few carrot sticks with your kids’ burger than fries. Then it comes to the parents. When they are having their Big Mac with fries, are they really going to opt out of the fries for their kids? Many parents are obese and diabetic themselves. They will claim that they love food, or that the processed foods are much cheaper and less time intense to prepare (and they are right). But in the name of enjoying your food, we all do some pretty destructive things to our bodies.

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

      Check out Fast Food by Jeff Novick. On this DVD, Jeff Novick, a chef and dietician makes five HEALTHY meals in about 10 minutes for less than $25 a week. Eating healthy does not have to be time consuming and expensive. The meals are delicious…Italian, Cajun, Indian, Mexican and a soup. It is a great investment!

  35. Salvador Peguero May 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Now, we got out the Cola-machine from our school, next step is to send petition to the Congress to request follow all suggestion made by Dr. Hyman in order to save our future, our children. All soda container with high fructose corn syrup or others artificial sweetener must be labeling with a graphic sign of poison.

  36. Marsha McMurray-Avila May 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Thanks for the excellent post, Dr. Hyman. Despite the pessimism of some of the folks responding above, there actually is a strong and vibrant movement in the country right now to make the kinds of policy changes you are calling for. From non-profit organizations, local coalitions and school districts to local/state government to the federal government, people are coming together to find creative ways to tackle this challenge. We all know that it is absurd to think that an entire country collectively lost their willpower in the last 30 years and can’t control their eating. Especially when you think about babies and children who are already obese, as you described. This isn’t just about will power. Health education classes and new medications are not the answer. All of the policies that you list are truly at the root of this dilemma and we must work together to change those policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently funded Community Transformation Grants in several counties, states and tribes to support communities coming together to use policy, systems and environmental changes to reduce chronic disease in their communities, specifically heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In addition, there are numerous local initiatives, from Food Policy Councils to community gardens and Farm to School programs and more, that are working hard to make a difference. We can do this. We HAVE to do this!

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      I just received a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from The T. Colin Campbell Foundation and eCornell. The purpose of the training is to teach students the connection between diet and disease and then work together toward a solution to the healtcare crisis in this country. The more people that are trained, the more information and resources there are to combat this epidemic of government and big business greed and selfishness that is harming our citizens and our global environment. I strongly recommend this course. It is amazing! We also had a few medical doctors enrolled which was awesome. Lifstyle Medicine is becoming a new specialty, just like Functional Medicine. Doctors who are jumping ship from the old conventional medical model who want to make a difference. Change is happening!

  37. Sean H May 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    While we are talking about taxing consumption, which I whole-heartedly believe we should do, let’s consider taxing advertising. The messaging is playing a key role in the negative trends discussed in this article, and the barrage of advertising we have deal with everyday is pernicious, excessive, and, as pointed out in this article, harmful. I have a dream of a world without billboards . . . .

  38. Anonymous May 7, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I have suffered so many problems due to a poor diet – depression, irritability, fatigue and joint pain, among many other things. I am familiar with a lot of Dr. Hyman’s programs – the Ultramind Solution, Five Forces of Wellness and the Ultra Simple Diet. After going through these programs, I really began to understand what my poor food choices were doing to my body. Especially sugar. It was all common sense.
    Because of this, before I had children, I envisioned myself as a mother who only gave her children sweets on special occasions like holidays and birthdays in small amounts. I saw myself taking my children out for ice cream on the occasional summer afternoon and making homemade pancakes with real maple syrup on Sundays for a special treat.
    Because I had seen first-hand the effect sugar and junk food could have on one’s health, I was determined to steer my children away from those things.
    Easier said than done. I have three children now — and three problems: family, friends and school. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my family, friends and my children’s school. But they are all throwing a wrench in my plan.
    One would think that in today’s world, the majority of people would be well-aware that sugar and junk food are extremely bad for you and would know what foods fall into those categories. Since I have had children, I have been astonished to learn that that the opposite is true. It’s the minority. Or perhaps it is the case that people are aware, but are in denial.
    Since my children have become school-aged, I have learned that I am the only person I know who does not have a drawer full of Pop Tarts, Fruit Rollups, Doritos and the like. My junk-food drawer consists of Kashi Chewy Granola bars and Whole Grain Saltines.
    My family thinks I go overboard with trying to limit the sweets. They even poke fun at me from time to time. They’ll say, “it’s a special occasion” or “it’s okay once in a while”. But they don’t realize that every other day there is a “special occasion” when you’re a child in today’s world. It could be a party at school, a playdate over a friend’s house, a birthday party or a family gathering. What really surprised me was what my children were eating for snack at the after-school program in the public school – Capri Sun juice and Doritos. Why not a piece of fruit? After all, we are paying $20/day for each child to go to after-school.
    People are well-meaning. They do not give my kids junk food because they don’t care. On the contrary, they do it because they DO care. This is especially true in the case of grandparents. That is how they show their love. My kids still talk about how Grandma always brought them “fruity snacks”, long after she passed away in 2009.
    I try to teach my children about eating healthy, but it is very hard to get a 6-year-old to understand the consequences of a poor diet because the effect may occur over time. I didn’t realize how sick I was until I was about 36 years old. (Although I did realize in Junior High school the correlation between eating junk food and the size of my behind). It’s one thing if your child is overweight – that is something tangible that they can see and feel. Or your child might get a belly ache from eating too much Halloween candy. It’s another thing when they’re tired or irritable or cannot concentrate. They just don’t connect that with what they ate earlier. Even if they did, they wouldn’t care – they’re now addicted to processed foods.
    I wish I could be around my children every minute of the day so I could control what was going into their mouths, but it’s not possible. I make them healthy lunches, and they come home uneaten. I tell them not to eat junk food over a friend’s house, and they come home with Cheetos on their breath.
    Do I want to be that mother who calls other parents on the phone and tells them not to give my children any sweets or junk food? I want to, but I fear that I will be ostracized along with my children; and that would not be good for them either.
    Do I want to get into battles with well-meaning family members?
    I have to confess, I have given up. I’ve been beaten. I couldn’t be the food activist in my family or among my peers. I started out strong, standing up for my cause, now I’m just as bad as anyone else. I’m a hypocrite.
    I don’t know what the answer is.
    I tend to be politically conservative and prefer smaller government – but I do feel in some ways that the government has to step in – at least with school lunch & snack programs. I also feel that there is too much emphasis on obesity. While that IS a serious problem, it draws the attention away from all of the other chronic health conditions that arise from a poor diet. And it’s not just sugar and fat that are the culprits, it’s all the other artificial ingredients going into food like dyes and preservatives.
    As far as elsewhere is concerned, it really IS up to parents. But unfortunately many parents just don’t realize the implications that sugar and junk food have on our health.
    From time to time, I’ll share a Dr. Hyman article on my Facebook page, hoping that eventually the word will spread.
    Most people think that as long as their children are not overweight, it’s fine to give them unlimited amounts of sweets.
    They also don’t realize that almost every food with a label on it has little nutritional value. Pretzels seem harmless for a snack to hold a child over until lunch or dinner. But they serve no purpose whatsoever. The body doesn’t get any nutrition from processed flour. It’s actually harmful because it turns to sugar.
    Parents really need to be more educated about what REAL nutrition is – it’s not the government’s food pyramid. They need to understand that the only thing their kids need is real food – fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and good fats like olive oil – and water is the only beverage they need.
    If everyone fed their kids like that, then I could feel good about giving my kids a treat now and then – getting a slush at the beach or having homemade waffles on Sunday morning – because I know it would really be a treat – not something that was occurring on a daily basis.

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      You are very wise, and I want to support you to keep doing the right things for your children. Please don’t cave in to the uneducated people who are going to harm their children and yours with an unhealthy diet loaded with HFCS and junk foods. Be strong knowing that you are indeed doing the right things for your children. They will know that and will appreciate the health that you are giving them. Children thrive on limits and setting limits on what they eat is a great example of that. Keep having conversations with them about the benefits of a healthy diet and they will come around. Let them help with the cooking and shopping so that they are empowered, too. It may take a little extra time, but it will be worth it in the long run. Dr. Daniel Amen has a great book out called Use Your Brain to Change Your Age. In it, he gives some great information on how to deal with the issues you are facing and how to talk to children. Good luck!

  39. Therese May 7, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    I like the idea of taxing sugar and putting that money into being part of the solution.
    Soda is bad on so many levels and it has become such a part of the culture. Most people
    are uninformed about the many side effects it might have, depending on who is drinking it.
    Same goes for white flour. Unfortunately, poor eating habits have snowballed and
    turned into an avalance that we are just buried under.

    I work in a school system in VA that has a program for second graders called “Food Explorers.”
    About once a month a vegetable or fruit is prepped by the cafeteria and brought to the classes by the School Nurse
    who gives them the information about the food item and a chance to try it. It’s a fun time to learn about something they
    may not see at home but is good for them. The cafeteria provides pretty good choices for lunches but the funding being what it is can only stretch so far. They are trying to promote good choices for healthy eating.
    It’s a shame things have gotten so bad and that children and society will suffer because of poor choices, ignorance and basic greed.

    Thanks for helping me get a clear picture of what I can do to stay healthier longer.
    I’m all for being proactive about health.

  40. Ivel De Freitas, MD May 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Hi, I’m Ivel, I’m a doctor and mom. A year ago, inspired by Dr. Hyman and The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I started a campaign, that I called “Coloring Life with Food”, designed to empower and educate children and parents about the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. I go to school, give a little talk and a cooking lesson. I show the kids how to make smoothies with fruits and veggies, by making a green smoothie or a green pound cake. The funnies part is when everybody wants to try. Moms and teacher do not believe it. I agree with Dr. Hyman, the solution for our health crisis will come from the core of American Society: our families. Each one of us has to do their part. We can build a healthy and happy future and the foundation start at home.

    In the mean time I will keep working on my dream, have a F&V smoothie station in every school of america.

    Thank you Dr. Hyman for your work and inspiration.

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      Hi Ivel, that is awesome what you are doing! Congratulations! Dr. Antonia Demas did the same thing and was very successful. Children love fruits and vegetables when they are exposed to them in a fun way! Great job!

  41. Jim LeBeau May 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I’m trying hard to get churches involved in health issues. If they can teach kids to sing “Jesus loves me this I know” they should be able to teach them how to eat and drink right and their parents how to feed them right. http://www.compassionatechrist.org

  42. Thank you for the article May 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    This is an excellent article and I am happy to know I am not the only one who is mad-as-hell about our current food industry. What about starting an initiative on change.org?
    It is a constant struggle in this society to feed children good quality food. Our society is not set up to feed people food that will keep them healthy and whole but rather to keep them from being hungry. With this we have lost sight of the true reason we eat, to nourish not for taste only.

  43. Erena DiGonis May 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Dr. Hyman you have hit the nail on the head with this article! We need to make these changes today, not tomorrow, not a week from now. The future of our nations health is in our hands, and we can’t afford to let them down.

  44. Jim May 10, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    Just yesterday I asked a colleague what is the first thing that comes to mind when he hears or see Coca-Cola? He said diabetes. He asked me the same question. I said cancer. What’s your impression?

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      Unfortunately, you are both correct! Check out The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. The diseases of affluence are caused by the Standard American Diet. These are cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney stones and disease, autoimmune diseases, etc.

  45. Dave LeBlanc May 10, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Dr. Hyman.

    Nice try and I know that you are sincere in ending childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, but just about everything you suggest will fail.

    Your ideas avoid the problem entirely, parents refusing to be parents.

    Your call for greater government involvement quickly turns the benevolent hand of government into a thuggish club. Whack, eat the way I say or else! For evidence read this: http://is.gd/kT9t7V. England is going through the same problems we are in the USA and this approach is not working. If this happened to my child I would sue for state sanctioned bullying.

    You and I agree that subsidies for good should end and your arguments give weight to Frederic Bastiat’s law of unintended consequences. A free and open market just may solve the problem if left alone to be a true market.

    Your ideas for sugar taxes and regulation of sugar as a drug will just create a black market for all things sugar. The war on sugar will be like the war on drugs, Prohibition, the war on poverty and the government’s attempts to solve the country’s energy’s issues. Those all turned out well, didn’t they? That plus government mandated censorship. Ever read about Germany in the 1930s? These ideas were planned way back then when the war ended. Happily, Berlin fell.

    Food deserts are a myth and as for incentives have you checked the national debt lately? http://www.usdebtclock.org/ . A mean, overly intrusive, broke government taking its wrath out on a pudgy kid. Fun times ahead, kids.

    Central planning always fails and your ideas are from the central planning handbook.

    If people, namely parents, truly believe that sugar is bad, they will cut back or stop it. They will insist by spending their income on better food and make their kids eat it, just as parents, namely moms always have done. Dr. Hyman, you have to let the parents, legally acknowledged adults, be adults and let the consequences fall where they may. If things go badly, as now they are, they will learn to change. It always happens that way.

    If you want to help, keep in insisting for better choices. You voice is being heard to encourage better food choice. Stay at it. It will work in the end.

  46. Lee Guetterman May 14, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Dr. your assessments are right of course but it is not the job of government to stem this tide. Nor is it the job of government to aid with medicare and welfare and subsidizing these companies. I do agree that the government should further reduce the list of purchasable items for those on welfare, just like they should drug test every participant and charge them from the amount they are given for the tests. But also to regulate their food choices. Welfare was originally designed to help people get back on their own two feet but obviously with now second generations and more staying on welfare the government has not managed this program well at all. Unless you realize the governments intent for welfare is sub servitude keeping people on welfare for control purposes. When the government allows major food producers like Monsanto to reintroduce carcinogens back into our food supply among other debilitating chemicals you begin to wander if they are really not for us but working silently against us. Ultimately we have personal responsibility in all this. And yet political correctness tells us “its ok its not your fault” to make us feel better about ourselves. After all we must not harm the psyche in any way for fear of scaring them emotionally. All this does is keep them from being mature adults who at times must make the hard decisions of life. All this to say keep the government out of our lives and let the self inflicted chips fall where they may. Self-discipline is what is missing and the government does not want you to have it back.

  47. Susan May 15, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    As a recent IIN grad, my mission is educating families on healthy food choices! All of my recipes feature only natural sweeteners, and I encourage avoiding dairy and gluten. My kids’ friends are often guinea pigs for my baked goods when they come over for play dates!

    Sharing this article on my FB page. Thanks as always Dr. Hyman!

  48. Melanie Albert May 15, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Thanks for the great article Dr. Hyman! As the Founder & CEO of Experience Nutrition and 2007 graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I have been guiding former professional athletes and their families to enjoy food and life with real, whole food and lots of home cooking. In the last few years, I’m happy that my workshops have extended to kids and love how excited they are about cooking with local, seasonal roots, greens and veggies. I’m glad to be part of this grassroots movement to help the kids with their nutrition and health. Melanie Albert, http://www.facebook.com/experience.nutrition.tips

  49. Michelle May 15, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Just a friendly reminder that not all working parents feed children processed food. Again, it is about what is important in your family. My three year old has never had soda, doesn’t drink juice on a regular basis and have never had fruit loops.
    We eat at the dinner table almost every night. Families have to make nutrition and priority. A choose this so our son will have better eating habits than we did.

  50. Hadley Gustin May 15, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    You are such a pioneer and revolutionary leader, Dr. Hyman, and I agree with you 100%! I would also like to add that the Blood Sugar Solution should be required reading in school health classes and programs. Boy, how the world would be different if this were the case! I am confident, though that we can get there. Thank you for your continued dedication to helping everyone achieve stellar health!

  51. Chef Jeremy Goodwin May 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    In interests of full disclosure, I started a list of all then names of sugars, including artificial with high GI indeces, and was able to name 56 off the top of my head. Then it got interesting. Now it is scary.

    https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150368900193198

  52. CE May 17, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Thank you! This is everything Newsweek’s recent obesity article wasn’t. Thoughtful and informed!

  53. Beth Johnson May 18, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Hi Dr. Hyman, I just wanted to congratulate you on a fabulous article. I agree whole heart-idly will all of your points. I am a senior at Framingham State University studying nutrition. I created a childhood nutrition blog this past semester (I have provided the link) and I will be linking your article to this weeks blog entry. I also believe that the SNAP program should be revamped. You can’t buy cigarettes with food stamps, so why should one be able to survive off of the addicting behaviors that sugary foods and beverages exhibit? The health problems that come along with these foods have cost many dollars and many lives. I volunteered with the USDA this semester, working with nutrition directors at local schools prepare for the Healthier US School Challenge. It is a great step in the right direction, but if eating habits do not change in the home, it will be difficult for these kids to make the transition into a healthier diet. Lifestyle in general is an important piece to this. These kids are not moving around. I am also a member of the Plainville School Systems Wellness Committee, during meetings we are focused on keeping sugar out of the schools by eliminating sweets during celebrations and coming up with ways to get kids active instead. Getting children involved in the changes is an important piece as well. Feel free to contact me with any thoughts or questions. I will be following you on facebook and twitter. Keep up the good work,
    Sincerely,
    Beth Johnson

  54. Avatar of Mysty Pfeffer
    Mysty Pfeffer May 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I would love to see some of these ideas implemented into our health care system. I think a simple solution for the food stamp program and obesity in children would be to model the FSP after the Women/Infant/Children (WIC) program.

    WIC regulates all free items based on nutritional value and content (it is already a government sponsored program).
    Also, no WIC or FSP vouchers should be given unless those applying attend and complete 8-10 classes teaching nutrition for children, the negeative affects of sugar–dyes– hydrogenated oils, making vouchers go farther, easy/healthy meals for kids, and basic child rearing values (stages of development, discipline, behaviour modificaiton, manners). It gives people a sense of accomplishment to know they have earned something for their families, rather than accepting handouts. I believe it was Ray Vander Horn that said “WE FAIL TO CHANGE THINGS THAT TRULY SHAPE OUR CULTURE” Accountability and responsibility are things every citizen/government/and school system should be required to practice, especially since most chronic diseases are a result of poor food choices.

  55. K Martinez June 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    We have a “wellness program” for food in our school district. To my knowledge, the guidelines are only strictly observed in one of the schools – that’s the one that teaches only to Pre-K and K. In the other schools, they are a much looser. In the one that observes the letter of the guidelines, everything that is served or brought in the administration monitors. No cupcakes, no soda, no juice with additives, everything low fat and whole grain, etc. By the time the kids enter one of the elementary schools, the guidelines have fallen by the wayside and the administration seems to take the position that they can’t control what comes in from outside (class birthday parties, cultural/holiday celebrations and the like). My kids report that their classmates indulge in McDonalds and Lunchables, some of them daily. These food artifacts can’t possibly conform to the guidelines, but nothing is done. In addition, the food served in the cafeteria isn’t much better – the “prepared foods” like chicken nuggets etc. are still processed and still contain some trans fats, even if the breading is “whole grain” and the greasy little suckers are baked. The students can even purchase rice krispy treats in the cafeteria if the parents haven’t blocked their lunch account (Big Brother, but WORTH IT!). All in all while the intent is good, the observance of the spirit and the letter of the policy leaves a lot to be desired.
    @ Dave Leblanc above, it’s not all about the parenting, it’s about what the government pays for. Yes, you’re still free to eat crap, but don’t ask the taxpayers to subsidize it, especially if it’s likely that these folks will be needing (subsidized) medical care for their dietary indiscretions later. That being said, I agree that parents need to vote with their wallets and that government should stay out of it, except to the extent that it should refuse to pay for crappy food (as well as continue to refuse to pay for alcohol and cigarettes).

  56. Alison July 29, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    The BBC in the UK have broadcast 3 episodes titled ‘The men who made us fat’ Follow this link to watch them on iplayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01k0fs0. It’s a wake up call to the aggressive marketing by rich corporations that has led to poor health and obesity.

  57. H July 29, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I took refined sugar out of my diet after reading your book. I felt light headed and loopy for 12 days of my body withdrawing from it. Now it’s been about 6 weeks and I feel SO much better. I have more energy. I’m not slumping in the afternoon. I am sleeping better. I used to have hypoglycemia symptoms and get shaky and dizzy when I didn’t eat on time. That is gone! I also hardly crave sugar at all. When I really have a craving I eat something naturally sweet like fruit or a few dates with some nuts.

    I agree with everything you said except the taxes part and rezoning schools part. People choose a home based on what school their kids will go to and they shouldn’t be forced to attend a different school because of junk food stores. We have enough taxes. Taxes aren’t going to solve the problem.

    Schools would save so much money if they went back to actually cooking lunches and serving it on washable plates. The packaging and waste I saw when I was a teacher was disgusting. When I was a kid there were two lunch ladies who cooked all morning and served meals to us on real plates with real utensils. It wasn’t perfect food but it was way healthier than what they get now. There was NO junk food sold at school except on Fridays when we could buy a small ice cream bar or popsicle for a few cents. We didn’t have access to chips, soda, candy, or any of that. There’s no reason for it to be sold in schools. They say the kids won’t eat it. Well yeah if you give them choice. Give them no other choice. Serve only healthy food and don’t even make the junk an option.

  58. Lyn Morris July 29, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I totally agree with you but the solution is not so easy. It boils down to each individual and what you accept. Busy people, busy lives and the ease of faste foods is the cop out for a vast lot of people. They don’t want to face the truth until it catches up with them. Then they follow the doctors advice and pop pills until they have to inject insulin. And this they accept as the only way because they are doing what the doctor has told them. I have seen my sister go this way. Put mums in the work force, take away the time for properly planned and cooked meals, put in there place frozen meals and take away meals and you have a recipe for disaster. I am horrified by my grand children and their choices. I was actually strongly talked to by my son because we had made his two year old eat veges she did not want to eat. He stated they did not believe in making her eat anything she did not want to. My answer, And a two old has the knowledge to choose what is good nutrition??? When they come to our home, they are offered home cooked food. Fresh veges, fruit, good meats, nuts and dried fruits. At first there was resistance but now they eat everything. I guess some people are afraid to upset their children and grandchildren.

  59. Cassie Ito July 29, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Fantastic article and ideas. I LOVE the taxation of sugars and processed food. Now the government is subsidizing these products which lead to them being less expensive which adds to the problem. Sugar and highly processed foods are just as dangerous and addictive as cigarettes and needs to be treated as such by the government and the health industry.

  60. larry July 29, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    as long as Republicans and tea party conservatives have power, nothing will be done, and that’s the facts!

  61. Sue Martinez July 29, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Thank you Dr. Hyman for this article. I’ve posted it on my FB page in the hopes that my friends will see and read this.

    As an educator approaching 20 years in the classroom (middle school science now), I see shrinking abilities to learn as waist sizes explode – especially for my girls. In tight fitting white t-shirts, ‘bowls full of jelly’ strut down the hall, and horrifyingly noticeable is the fact that the boys seem to like it.

    Whether it is children or adults that I talk to, there is a predominant desire to ‘protect’ their choices. I have had ingredient lists shoved in my face by colleagues, who argue that they are drinking vending products that are sugar free. The lists of chemicals on the bottles have my liver screaming.

    I sincerely have considered stopping field trips, since the bags of junk that are brought to consume are troubling to the extreme. My colleague and I, who ‘walk our walk’ on nutrition, are not popular, as we banned colored sugar water and chips during school hours.

    Honestly, I’d rather be reviled by my students who possibly will live just a bit longer because I’m fighting their addiction.

    I am waiting for someone to do studies on how the brain cells of our children are being affected by the over consumption of omega 6s relative to 3s. If I was 20 years younger, I’d seriously consider working on a PhD in that field.

    To close on a lighter note, I did have many colleagues begin to bring snacks of almonds and apples sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s a start.

    • Marianne July 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

      Check out Dr. Daniel Amen’s books especially Use Your Brain to Change your Age in which he has pictures of brains on chemicals. It is a very important piece of work! What they eat definitely affects their brain power.

  62. sheena July 29, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    If sugar is as addictive as you say it is, what makes you think people are going to stop buying it because their food stamps won’t pay for it? A true addict will get what he/she needs by any means necessary.

  63. sheena July 29, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    I agree with Lee. If we, the people, are going to beat this, we have to take personal responsibility for our actions. People need to be educated about sugar. And then they need to choose – between life or death.

  64. Myrto Ashe July 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    What the folks opposed to regulation and taxing sugar don’t realize is that we are presently being subsidized to eat unhealthy food. Those millions of dollars in subsidies to corn growers means cheaper high fructose corn syrup and cheaper CAFO beef and chicken. It is very much a tax (a reverse tax) and “the heavy hand of government”. If you are against regulations, just work to eliminate those and let’s see what happens. I bet Big Ag would choose a sugar tax over eliminating subsidies for corn–in a heartbeat.

    There’s people profiting everywhere you look–the health care system, food vendors and grocery stores that get to sell more and more because the food we buy is addictive, and commodities farmers. Who isn’t doing so well is what Mark Hyman is focusing on in his article. It’s a dicey situation–how do you hand out food stamps, yet maintain people’s dignity by letting them choose their food? But there’s a lot of other things you aren’t letting them choose: Section 8 housing is subsidized but limited and so is Medicaid healthcare. Can we afford to look the other way while
    money is wasted and people get sicker?

    To answer the question of what I am doing about sugar, school lunches and food stamps: I have joined California’s Food Policy Council and hope to work on better school lunches. I work in a community health center and teach my patients about healthy food every day–I hope to teach groups there soon.

  65. Owen Johnson July 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I understand insurance won’t pay for a doctor to spend any time talking with patients about diet, nutrition or healthy living and disease prevention. And that’s a travesty! But every doctor’s office has a waiting area and that’s where a big sign could be put up, saying something simple like: “Sugar is poison for your kids!” Or “Save your children from early death!” Would that get a mother’s attention? On a table below the sign have brochures to educate the parents. You get five parents to read and make changes in their kids’ diets and they will talk to ten more each.

    As someone else commented, people tend to think their doctor knows everything about health, so who are they going to believe? In my opinion, that’s where we need to start: in the doctor’s waiting room.

  66. Janney Lee July 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your good sense and honest appraisal of the mess this country is in health-wise. Do you ever feel like a lone voice shouting in the wilderness? Well you’re not, many hear you so please continue to “shout” and tell us (Dr. Hyman’s Army if you will) what we can do. With great admiration and appreciation

  67. Denise July 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    You have so much knowledge on these health subjects that I can’t believe how ignorant you are to think that the government can make any difference whatsoever in this situation. I am disappointed in you. You can’t solve a problem by taking away freedoms.

  68. Gina Lambert July 30, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Dr. Hyman,

    My business partner Michelle and I are very passionate about teaching the importance of eating healthy/real foods as a way to help heal your body. Being teachers, we also see the effects of unhealthy eating on our students. Therefore, August 15th at Bryant University in Rhode Island, we will be holding the first of many free presentations entitled “Pack This, NOT That.” This presentation is for parents and teachers who want to learn how to feed their kids healthier foods in order to be more successful learners. We have invited vendors of healthier versions of “junk food” which we call transitional foods as we know it is very difficult to dump all the junk and eat organic, clean foods. We have gotten gift certificates and prizes from local health businesses for raffles in order to entice people to attend. We have contacted local newspapers in hopes of getting a story out there about our mission. We are moms on a mission to help others give their children the best childhood possible in this sugar coated world.

  69. Lawren July 30, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I totally agree with the decrease subsidies/ increase tax approach– it is simple economics that if you raise the price, you will lower demand. But I especially agree that parents need to raise a ruckus with their local schools. I have been appalled during a visit to the American south; I put my kids in a local “science camp” here and on day 1 they were building model cells out of marshmellows, jello, and chemical-laden candy. Any “extras” were given to the kids by the teachers with the chant, “Have more energy, have more energy.” In other words, your cells are made from sugar and you energize them with sugar. When I complained, I was told by the director that she agreed with me but that I was the first parent to bring it up as an issue, that the sugar-laden cooking camp was the most popular camp at the center, and that in the South, kids were regularly given candy as a rewards at school. She said anyone that complained too loudly was generally seen as a member of the “granola fringe.” I find it both discouraging and frightening to see this level of ignorance in the population, an ignorance that is avidly encouraged not only by corporations but by our own government.

  70. JoEllen DeNicola July 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    As the Nutrition Director for Ceres Community Project, I wanted to let you know about a model for community health that is working.

    Ceres Community Project builds healthy communities by restoring fresh, whole and organic food to its place as the foundation of health and by connecting people in heart-centered ways to themselves, others and the earth.

    Key facets of our approach include:
    • Supporting individuals dealing with serious illness with free, delivered and nutrient-rich prepared meals, nutrition education, and a community of caring.
    • Involving young people as volunteer gardeners and chefs, giving them direct, hands-on experience of the difference that fresh, healthy foods and community make, and of their own capacity to contribute.
    • Educating the broader community, including health professionals, about the connection between fresh, healthy food, strong social networks, healing and wellness.
    • Connecting people of all ages and from all walks of life to one another, and to their value as an integral part of the community.
    Please check our website at http://www.ceresproject.org

    Ceres is 5 years old and began in Sonoma County, California, where we have transformed teens, their families, lives of those that are seriously ill and those that are caregivers or medical professionals simply by having teen chefs cook locally produced organic whole food meals for families and individuals dealing with serious illnesses. The cost to the families is free. The community service for the teens is invaluable.

    This project now has over 120 teens working in the Ceres commercial kitchen four days a week, 52 weeks a year. The teens receive leadership skills, nutrition information, and cooking skills. They are an active part of our community.The Ceres Teens won the Sonoma County Heroes in Healthcare Award, an award until Ceres Teens recognition had only been given to medical professionals. They were nominated by our community for their caring, consistent, incredibly delicious and nutritious meals that helped so many people in our county.

    Ceres promotes whole foods, not processed foods. We use plenty of greens and vegetables in our kitchen. We soak and sprout our grains, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as make ferments for our clients. Sugar is off limits, except for the occasional fruits and local honey or maple syrup.

    Some of our clients who are going through cancer treatments tell us that they can taste the love in the food. The food carries the community spirit as well as the nutrition they need. We at Ceres know community is essential to health.
    Claire Victor spoke at one of our fundraisers and summed up her experience:
    “What was most amazing about receiving the meals is that there were “no strings attached”. The shock of diagnosis, the exorbitant medical expenses, the debilitation of my body – it was all so overwhelming. To suddenly have these meals come without attachment to financial means was magic. It was as if the universe itself was saying, “Claire,
    you are going to get through this”. It gave me such a sense of gratitude and hope that strangers would show up to
    take care of me without me having to do anything in return. No obligation, no demand, just simple kindness at a point
    when I could not take care of myself. The food may have nourished my body, but the kindness nurtured my spirit and supported me into health.”

    We also offer Healing Foods Cooking Courses for caregivers, medical professionals and those dealing with serious illness. We do not prescribe a specific diet, but rather talk about the benefits of whole foods and then cook a meal together.

    Our project is branching out to Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Tennessee and our neighboring counties here in California.

    check our website http://www.ceresproject.org for more information or to purchase our cookbook Nourishing Connections the Healing Power of Food and Community.

  71. Victoria July 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    I did speak to my state representative about the food choices in our schools and he was opposed to the idea of limiting a child’s choice! What! An adult has a difficult time choosing between a honey bun and an apple….. how can we expect children to make the right choice? I proceeded to tell him how I, as a tax payer, end up paying for the poor choices of others through medical programs or indigent hospital bills. It all comes back to the taxpayer, but he wasn’t buying it. Thank you Dr. Hyman for making this your platform and using your position to educate America! It all seems so silly to me….the Government provides subsidies to manufacture the “fake food”, then provides assistance in the form of Medicaid to treat the very diseases caused by the “fake food” they paid the corporations to produce! WAKE UP, AMERICA! Let’s all use our personal power to end this nonsense!

  72. Wanda Bedinghaus, MD July 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    As a pediatrician, I watched parents cave in to the demands for candy and sugary foods. What does it take to be a mindful parent? Does it take more education? Does it take supporting them to be the parent in their family? I agree with Dr. Hyman that it begins in the home. I have a niece who has 5 children, and watching the rows of boxes of sugar-coated sugar displayed on the breakfast table made me want to cry. Now she has at 3 of these children with obesity and other health problems, including ADHD and other learning problems. Why didn’t I say something? Would it have done it any good? Well, we have to say something now. Parents, get rid of the sugar in your pantry and learn to say a firm, “no”, when the whining and complaining start.

  73. Beverly July 31, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    Good article. I do hesitate to add more taxes to our over-taxed society.

    We most certainly could (and should) definitely start with a couple big deals – stop advertising sugary foods to kids the same way we got alcohol and tobacco ads off television. That is a no-brainer and it’s hard to believe it has not been done yet.

    Second, is STOP – IMMEDIATELY – all subsidizes for the corn and sugar growing industries! I am sorry, but this is greedy big corporate America and government at work against their own citizens! I could not believe it when I found out how our own American governments, citizens and government seem to be in cahoots to destroy the citizens of this country! It is as shameful as big tobacco and the greedy pharmaceutical corporations.

    shameful. traitorous. intolerable.

    Did we punish Big Tobacco for LYING to the American public – and government – because they knew nicotine was addictive – and, in fact, did what they could to make it even more addictive than it was naturally.

    In principle, the same thing is going on now with the corn and high fructose corn syrup industries. It’s not good for people. (And, by the way, it’s not good for the animals either.)

    If we simply put a quick Halt to the industry “welfare” and the advertising, we have half the problem licked.

    By the way, I was a smoker for many years and I can not begin to tell you how horribly hard it was for me to stop smoking, especially with society being very punishing and shaming about it, rather than supportive. I tried – and failed – dozens of times – before I was able to stop. Undoubtedly, i am weaker than others who were able to stop before me and without the depression I suffered when I did stop. I am very grateful for Wellbutrin and the patch, both of which helped me stop.

    But increasing the cost of cigarettes did not help. It just made me choose sometimes between healthy food and my addiction. The addiction won – every time. The shaming made me feel worse and made it more difficult to change. So I am against any form of punishing the addict.

    I think it might be appropriate however to stop including “soda” – in the classification of “food” for the benefit of food stamps and thereby at least stop that one form of sugar from easy consumption. I am also 100% in favor of eliminating all soda from schools. they never belonged there in the first place, did they? But I understand that started as a clever way for school districts to raise some money for their schools – since taxpayers do not want to pay for schools.

    We need to agree as citizens in this country that our health is extremely important – and vital.

    We do not need to punish addicts – or users – of sugar any more than we need to continue to punish smokers.

    It was tobacco companies, after all, who lied to us all about tobacco for decades. I am shocked that none of those fellows had to do prison time – for getting generations of folks addicted to nicotine!

    In summary, we need to view this nation’s sugar addiction as we do (did) tobacco and cigarette addiction – and take what worked in helping smokers give up the drug – and apply that to sugar addicts. And remember that children did not become addicted by themselves. They did not have the information to make informed choices. It is the adults who created this problem – and adults who must solve it.

    Thank you, Dr. Hyman, for your continued vigilance in trying to get this message out. I think you are voice in the wilderness now – and a leader in what I hope is a growing trend away from this unhealthy diet Americans have slipped into.

  74. Beverly July 31, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    Good article. I do hesitate to add more taxes to our over-taxed society.

    We most certainly could (and should) definitely start with a couple big deals – stop advertising sugary foods to kids the same way we got alcohol and tobacco ads off television. That is a no-brainer and it’s hard to believe it has not been done yet.

    Second, is STOP – IMMEDIATELY – all government subsidies for corn and sugar growing industries! I am sorry, but this is greedy big corporate America and government at work against their own citizens! I could not believe it when I found out how our own American corporations, the citizens who run and theoretically oversee them, and government seem to be in cahoots to destroy the citizens of this country!

    It is as shameful as big tobacco and the greedy pharmaceutical corporations. shameful. traitorous. intolerable.

    Did we punish Big Tobacco for LYING to the American public – and government – because they knew nicotine was addictive – and, in fact, did what they could to make it even more addictive than it was naturally?

    In principle, the same thing is going on now with the corn and high fructose corn syrup industries. It’s not good for people. (And, by the way, it’s not good for the animals either.)

    If we simply put a quick HALT to the industry “welfare” and the advertising, we have half the problem licked.

    By the way, I was a smoker for many years and I can not begin to tell you how hard it was for me to stop smoking, especially with society being very punishing and shaming about it, rather than supportive. I tried and failed dozens of times before I was able to stop. I am very grateful for Wellbutrin and the patch, both of which helped me stop.

    But increasing the cost of cigarettes did not help. It just made me choose sometimes between healthy food and my addiction. The addiction won – every time. The shaming made me feel worse and made it more difficult to change. So I am against any form of punishing the addict.

    I think it appropriate however to stop including “soda” in the classification of “food” for the benefit of food stamps and at least stop that one form of sugar from easy consumption. I am also 100% in favor of eliminating all soda from schools. they never belonged there in the first place, did they? I understand that started as a clever way for school districts to raise some money for their schools – since taxpayers do not want to pay for schools (read about it in “Fast Food Nation”)

    We need to agree as citizens in this country that our health is extremely important – and vital.

    We do not need to punish addicts – or users – of sugar any more than we need to continue to punish smokers.

    It was tobacco companies, after all, who lied to us all about tobacco for decades. I am shocked that none of those fellows had to do prison time – for getting generations of folks addicted to nicotine!

    In summary, we need to view this nation’s sugar addiction as we do (did) tobacco and cigarette addiction – and take what worked in helping smokers give up the drug – and apply that to sugar addicts. And remember that children did not become addicted by themselves. They did not have the information to make informed choices. It is the adults who created this problem – and adults who must solve it.

    Thank you, Dr. Hyman, for your continued vigilance in trying to get this message out. I think you are voice in the wilderness now – and a leader in what I hope is a growing trend away from this unhealthy diet Americans have slipped into.

  75. Ellen July 31, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Thanks for the article. I would love to learn more about how to practically help my patients in this and implement change.

  76. Anne H July 31, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I think we also need to encourage parents to rein in or eliminate video games. Children need to spend most of their playtime outside. We also need to rein in the safety culture. Playgrounds are BORING. Yes, children can get hurt, but I think that we are now proving with the obesity and diabetes epidemic that children can get hurt without stitches or broken bones. Sugar would be nowhere near the problem it is if these kids were running and playing. Emergency rooms and doctors should be trained to not view the parents of injured children as if they were potentially guilty of neglect. Parents fear minor injuries. Finally, as someone who is of the age where water, many times from the garden hose, was the drink of choice and Kool-Aid was a treat, I don’t understand why the parents of young children need to provide their children with juice boxes everytime they leave the house for 5 minutes. Juice is gateway soda.

  77. Healthy Tummy Initiative July 31, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    local programs in your schools to encourage healthy meals?

  78. Samara (TheGymCoach) July 31, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    I agree with everything Dr. Mak says, however my recommendation is to put out better GUIDELINES for sugar intake for kids. I’ve researched this and there is such mixed recommendation (anything from 0 to 100g per day), that it’s hard for parents to know what’s right. we know junk food is bad. But you can’t tell a kid they can’t have ANY sugar. Tell us what the HEALTHY RANGE is is and we can do better trying to hit it.

  79. Marianne July 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    My sister had knee replacement surgery yesterday. They placed her on a “liquid diet” that consisted of chicken soup, jello, pudding with whipped cream, broth, and some other sugary and salty foods. She reports that they offer steak or salmon as the “congatulations” dinner the night before she is discharged. We know that sugar stops the immune system from working for 6 hours after it is consumed, so why in the world would they give someone healing from sugery such a nasty diet!!! That is a rhetorical question….we know the answer. Ignorance and/or greed. We also know that fatty animal products sludge up the arteries. Hospitals are not healthy places. I congratulate everyone who has responded to Dr. Hyman’s awesome post. You all will make a difference! Knowledge is power!

  80. Healthy Tummy Initiative July 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Loved this informative article Dr. Hyman, as it focuses on the facts. Now – it’s time to act!
    I have developed a local program in the schools called the Healthy Tummy Initiative that was created to help spread this exact message to those who need to hear it most, the kids! The Wellness Curriculum includes tasty, nutrition-based lessons where kids get their hands busy with cooking demos and food tasting experiments, along with healthy assignments to share at home with their families. The WAKE Up Breakfast program and Loving Lunch Lessons help students taste new foods, prepare menus and enhance their knowledge through transformational learning. Help me, Dr. Hyman, eradicate childhood obesity and diabetes before these kids grow up as ticking time bombs. Let’s get healthy together!! THANK YOU…

  81. Nancy August 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I always like the guidance you give on healthful eating, but I have to object to your unfairly targeting sugar, when wheat and gluten, particularly refined flour, and high fructose corn syrup are way more damaging to the body. Soft drinks don’t even contain sugar, so they are not a good example of toxic foods fed to children. They contain high fructose corn syrup, made from corn, not sugar.
    Please keep the battle for healthful food targeted on the proper goals. Vilifying sugar is not the answer,

  82. Jode September 12, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    I work with under priveleged, indigenous australian children in outback australia. Although not yet prolific among the children type 2 is a disaster for their parents and grandparents. most schools here in the desert simply refuse to provide non nutritional lunches. the children can access only food that is healthy during school hours. in more mainstream settings the canteen is governed quite strongly by the health dept. with strict guidelines. there are severe penalties for schools who hold more than one cake stall a term, or sausage sizzle for that matter, however nutritionally balanced meals can accompany an event at any time. australia also has a high rate of obesity and increasing rate of diabetes. until the government tightens restrictions on our fast food outlets it will continue to climb like that in the US. no matter what schools choose to do or are governed to do it has little impact on what happens once a child leaves the school gates.
    I am horrified every day by the large bottles of full sugar softdrinks and bags of lollies that kids now call breakfast! when did this stuff become ‘food’?

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