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“The human body is the universe in miniature. That which cannot be found in the body, is not to be found in the universe. Hence the philosopher’s formula, that the universe within, reflects the universe without. It follows therefore, that if our knowledge of our own body could be perfect, we would know the universe.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Are You Pouring On the Pounds?

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Posted: Wed, Sep 9, 2009
By: Danielle Heard, MS, HHC
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"Are you pouring on the pounds?" In an effort to encourage New Yorkers to cut back on sugary beverages, the New York City Health Department is urging New Yorkers to think about the sugar-sweetened beverages they are drinking. The image used in the new public service campaign ad is a soda, sports drink or sweetened ice tea beverage that is turning to fat as it is being poured into glasses. The main message is, "Don't drink yourself fat." This campaign is another great effort by New York City to help improve the health of New Yorkers while sending a message to the world that it is a health conscious city. To read the recent August 31, 2009 press release click here.

Since 2002, New York City has consistently passed bills to improve the health of its city and is continuously working hard to show America what it takes to create a healthy city. In 2002, New York City became one of the first major cities to ban smoking in bars and in restaurants. Just four years later, with help from leaders in the field of nutrition such as Walter Willet, MD, PhD Chair, Department of Nutrition at Harvard University and the support and efforts by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and its students and alumni, as well as the help from many others, the use of trans fats in food was pushed to the forefront of New York City's health agenda. In December 2006, New York City's board of health voted to ban the use of trans fats by restaurants and bakeries with the full ban on trans fats going into effect by 2008.

New York City is known as the first city to ban trans fats, but the small community of Tiburon in Northern California, just outside of San Francisco, has banned the use of trans fats since 2004. Tiburon is the community which New York City turned to as a role model in its effort to transition away from the use of trans fats. Click here to read more about Tiburon and efforts to ban trans fats. Since New York City banned trans fats, other major cities like Seattle and Philadelphia have followed suit.

Just one year after the official ban on trans fats went into effect, New York City's Department of Health reported that the use of trans fats has declined from 50% to less than 2% and that the saturated fat and trans fat content of foods such as french fries has diminished by more than 50%. Click here to read more about this in the July 2009 HealthDay article,"In New York City, Trans Fat Ban Is Working" by reporter Kathleen Doheny.

On July 29, 2009, New York City further banned smoking outside of its health facilities such as hospitals. This includes smoking on the street and on the sidewalk. This is very positive because not only was the general public standing and smoking in front of hospitals, but so were the doctors and medical staff. This ban will prevent people who are seeking medical care from having to walk through harmful smoke to enter medical facilities for treatment as well as from obtaining mixed messages by seeing their health care providers standing outside smoking. Click here to read more about this smoking ban.

With its latest public service campaign to encourage people to consume less sugary beverages, New York City is once again proving that it truly wants to address the real issues that have led to an epidemic of obesity and the health crisis in America. New York City's campaign has the potential to have a greater impact beyond the issue of obesity simply by decreasing the demand for sugary drinks.

Prior to the 1970's, no one was consuming products made with high-fructose corn syrup because it was too expensive to grow and produce. Now high-fructose corn syrup is the leading sweetener made in the United States with the help of government subsidized programs. High-fructose corn syrup is made with a corn that has been genetically altered to have a higher starch content. According to nutrition expert Dr. Walter Willett, "We are taking that starch and converting that to high-fructose corn sweetener which basically has no nutritional value, only adverse metabolic effects and empty calories." Additionally, the farming methods used to raise this corn includes the use of high amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers which is harmful to our environment. So, not only are sugary beverages harmful to the health of Americans but they are also harmful to the environment.

In the excellent documentary film, "King Corn," Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis point out that Brooklyn, New York alone consumes approximately 139 million gallons of soda each year that is sweetened by over 20,000 acres of corn."One of the great changes in the food supply in the last 20 years is that we are now drinking many more calories than we were before and there does seem to be something about drinking calories in the form of soda for example that just doesn't generate the stop signals," says Dr. Willett.  "We have an explosion of obesity that is probably the most conspicuous symptom of the nutritional crisis occurring in America. But the obesity is only just part of it. High consumption of sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup has quite adverse metabolic effects and what we see in our long term studies is higher risks of Type II Diabetes as well. In a recent analysis, we found that by drinking one soda per day, on average, almost doubled the risk of Type II Diabetes compared to occasionally having a soda beverage or not at all."

If it takes 20,000 acres of corn to make sweetened sodas for Brooklyn, New York, can you imagine how many acres of land it takes to grow enough corn to supply soft drinks for the rest of the United States and the world? All of this for a sweetener and products that have no nutritional value and that have played a large role in the health crisis of America. Can you imagine the impact on public health and our environment if cities like New York City stopped its demand for these products? Imagine all the acres of land that could be used to grow crops that have nutritional value and that actually can help prevent disease instead of causing it. 

We are currently in a heated debate over national health care coverage. Yet, the primary health issues that we should be discussing are the condition of our food, water and air supply because at the end of the day, these elements all have the greatest impact on the health of people and their need for health care.

At the recent National Food Policy Conference in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2009, newly appointed Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg noted that 65% of adult Americans are obese and 17% of children. She further acknowledged that obesity alone cost the United States over $147 billion in health care costs last year. When you have time, check out these great obesity trend maps that show the changes that have occurred since 1985 click here.

New York City's campaign could not have come at a more critical time. What is most interesting is that New York City is so active in promoting good health even though rates of obesity are much lower in that area, as New York state ranks 38th among adult 18+ obesity statistics. A ban on trans fats and public service campaigns to decrease the consumption of sugary beverages need to be implemented in all states especially those where there are high numbers of obese people, such as Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Nebraska and so many others.

I urge everyone to ask themselves, "Are you pouring on the pounds?" By making simple changes to eliminate sugary beverages, which includes sugary coffees, you can improve your health and also change the demand for these harmful products. I agree with the Health Department of New York City's recommendation to choose water or seltzer instead of sugary drinks, but if you choose to drink milk, make it organic and whole or choose a nut or rice milk as a healthy alternative.


Thank you very much for reading my blog and please continue to visit often.

I wish you good health, happiness and love!



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Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | © 2008-2024 Artemis in the City, LLC. All rights reserved.
Email: info@artemisinthecity.com | Phone: 903-759-0172 | United States
Artemis in the City and logo and Food for the Untamed Soul are trademarks of Artemis in the City, LLC.