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But study does not appear to clearly indicate whether it's part of a broader caloric problem

In 2011 and 2012 the U.S. federal government paid$7.3B USD in corn subsidies, most of which went in the pockets of "big corn" -- Cargill, Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Comp. (ADM), Gavilon, and ConAgra Foods, Inc. (CAG).  These corporations control roughly 60 percent of the market according to a 2007 National Farmer's Union (NFU) report [PDF], and have deep ties to top federal politicians (for example Gavilon co-owner George Soros donated $5M USD to President Obama and fellow pro-corn Democrats in the last election cycle).  

In addition to lining the pockets of big corn these subsidies have served to make corn syrup cheap, in turn propagating the sugary foods and beverages that use it such as pop/soda/coke.

I. Study Ties Sugary Pop to Violent Children

Researchers at Columbia University have performed a statistical analysis of data on 3,000 5-year-old children enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a study that's tracking both mothers and children in 20 large U.S. cities.

While much of the study -- including the Child Behavior Checklist -- focuses on psychological and sociological content, part of the study also focuses on diet, inquiring about soft drinking consumption.  This in turn offers some interesting opportunities to see if there's really a link between corn syrup and child misbehavior, which corn syrup's critics have long alleged.

The study found that 43 percent of children consumed one or more soft drink serving a day, while 4 percent consumed 4 servings or more a day.  A clear correlation was found between "aggression, withdrawal, and attention problems (i.e. ADHD)" and soft drink consumption.

But soft drinks are cheap; simple logic would suggest poverty would both predispose kids to behavior issues and to heavy consumption of cheaper foods.  But the Columbia team claims that even with "sociodemographic factors, maternal depression, intimate partner violence, and paternal incarceration" removed, there's still a clear correlation between "any soft drink consumption was associated with increased aggressive behavior."

Children who drank 4 or more soft drinks a day were found to be twice as likely to exhibit violent behavior -- breaking toys, getting in fights with peers, and physically attacking adults.

II. Is the High Fructose Corn Syrup or the Higher Caloric Intake in General to Blame?

Dr. Shakira Suglia, ScD, the study's first author comments, "We found that the child's aggressive behavior score increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day."

The conclusions are controversial, given recent efforts by certain state and city governments (including Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New York City regime) to regulate soft drink consumption.

Soft drink ban
Some, like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have pushed to restrict or ban soft drinks to curb public obesity and related health issues. [Image Source: AP]

The compelling question is whether the authors overlooked some correlation or greater overarching trend.  Despite the inarguable criticism over big corn and government handouts, the case against high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is sketchier from a scientific perspective.  No sweeter than table sugar, and with a similar caloric profile it does not appear HFCS is significantly different from its more expensive traditional brethren.

On the flip side both sucrose and corn syrup consumption has risen sharply over the last couple decades as obesity in America has also spiked.  A technical paper [abstract] arguably sponsored by big corn (from the White Technical Research food and beverage industry consulting firm) raises this interesting chicken or egg dilemma in a recent 2008 paper in defense of HFCS.  While undeniably biased the paper does show data indicating that HFCS consumption has only risen roughly proportionally with the increase in overall calories.

Thus while there appears to be a clear link between HFCS and child misbehavior, it remains to be seen if the true correlation is between caloric intake and misbehavior.  If that was a case, it would still be an indictment of gov't subsidizing of corporate farming of high caloric foods (e.g. oil and sugar crops), but would provide a more rational scientific explanation for this otherwise confusing conclusion.

The paper on Dr. Suglia, et al.'s work was published [abstract] in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Sources: The Journal of Pediatrics [abstract], Elsevier/Columbia Univ. [press release]



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RE: Bad Parents
By Jammrock on 8/19/2013 5:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
Don't be too quick to judge. Being a parent I can understand. Sort of.

A 2-liter of soda is cheaper than a gallon of milk or bottle of juice. And your kids are always much more happy drinking the soda than either. While giving the soda to your kids to pacify them can be construed as bad parenting, when money is tight and every penny counts soda can be an appealing option. Especially in areas that have bad or harmful tap water.

The only non-water-but-cheaper-than-soda option is mix drinks (i.e. Kool-Aid like powders). Which are either sugary (a cup of sugar per 2 quarts) or full of artificial sweeteners.

Furthermore, in some parts of the country it is cheaper to eat out than buy groceries. Going out means water or sugary drinks ... in most cases. Some fast food has milk and juice as an option now.

Fortunately I have never been either of these positions. My kids get water foremost, then milk, then juice, and, as a treat, the occasional soda.


RE: Bad Parents
By Samus on 8/19/2013 5:40:31 PM , Rating: 2
We buy 1% organic milk in our household because it is sweeter (part of the ultra pasteurization process) and we find our kids drink it more willingly over juices and water.

But I agree with the OP, it is hard to compete with the price of $0.99 2 liter bottles of pop or even-cheaper Kool-Aid when organic milk and non-concentrate orange juice is 3-5x more expensive.

On a side note, we've found making Kool-Aid with Agave nectar is a good alternative to sugar as it dissolves well in liquid, is completely natural (like honey) and has 1/3 the calories for the same sweetness of sugar.


RE: Bad Parents
By StevoLincolnite on 8/20/2013 7:10:03 AM , Rating: 5
You would also be surprised HOW much sugar is actually in things like Orange and Apple juice, it's almost no better for you than soft drink.

The healthiest drink for you, is obviously water and is essentially free anyway if you have a rain water tank.

As a kid, that's all I *ever* drank, never milk, soft drink, cordials or fruit juices as my parents could never afford it and even today I might buy something like a bottle of orange juice over water once every few months, it's simply the healthiest drink available for everyone.


RE: Bad Parents
By domboy on 8/20/2013 8:30:45 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
The healthiest drink for you, is obviously water and is essentially free anyway if you have a rain water tank.

As a kid, that's all I *ever* drank


That's what I was thinking... how is soda cheaper than water anyway?? Tap water, not bottled water. And if your tap water tastes funny get a filter! There is no good reason that a kid should be drinking so much sugar. Of course they are going to be hyper. And I'm sorry, but if the kid is really thirsty he/she will eventually drink the water even if it's not their first preference.


RE: Bad Parents
By PitViper007 on 8/20/2013 4:40:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yep. That's part of the reason when I had to buy a new refrigerator, I got one with water and ice in the door. Water is the best thing for you.


RE: Bad Parents
By toffty on 8/20/2013 11:48:20 AM , Rating: 2
The thing to remember about Apple and Orange Juice is that the sugar in them is natural. The sugar found in soft drink / kool-aid is ultra refined and completely not natural. The body has a harder/longer time digesting the refined sugar as opposed to the natural sugars.


RE: Bad Parents
By chripuck on 8/20/2013 11:56:44 AM , Rating: 2
No, no it doesn't. There is absolutely zero difference between the fructose in drinks and the fructose in apple juice.

Eating apples is a different story, because you are getting vitamins, water and most importantly, fiber. Fiber actually slows the absorption of sugar down in your body, thus slowing down the sugar spike you get from sugary drinks.


RE: Bad Parents
By Samus on 8/20/2013 2:02:32 PM , Rating: 2
You are all misinformed about the chemical structure of HFCS in relation to juice sugars (and all sugars for that matter.)

HFCS is "high-fructose" which can be as high as 90% fructose where as natural sugar (cane sugar, table sugar, etc) and juice sugars are mostly, if not entirely, sucrose. HFCS is processed differently by the body. The industry claims to use HFCS-55 in soft drinks (55% fructose) and HFCS-42 in bakes goods and foods, but most lab studies show HFCS-90 is used in almost everything because it is cheapest to produce (less corn syrup is blended with "rear" sugar)

quote:
No, no it doesn't. There is absolutely zero difference between the fructose in drinks and the fructose in apple juice.


While that could be true when comparing a favorable blend of HFCS to a high-fructose juice like orange juice, you have left "manufacturing" out of the equation. HFCS is highly chlorinated during production with synthetic agents. Sucralose (Splenda) is highly chlorinated as well. Chlorine is a toxin to the body. Like our wheat products (high gluten) many of our sugar products are banned for import in many countries because of how they are manufactured.

The true danger of HFCS is how we use it in honey production. There has been a world-wide bee epidemic for nearly a decade, coincidentally, right about the time HFCS was used as a sucrose replacement for honey bees. This has negatively affected pollen production world-wide, being scientifically linked to reduced immunity and high rate of mortality in bees.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/04/26/13038...


RE: Bad Parents
By chripuck on 8/20/2013 2:46:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm fully aware of how fructose is processed by the body, but thanks for your non-explanation.

For those who read his vague post, fructose is processed by your liver, not your pancreas, and has very little impact on your bodies sugar levels. This leads to higher calorie intake because you don't get the natural full feeling that glucose provides. It's also why high fructose sugars, both artificially created and natural (e.g. agave) are good for diabetics. Sweet taste, but does not affect your blood sugar.

On the note of HFCS: most in used in food production is 55/45. Natural table sugar is 50/50. Table sugar is NOT pure glucose, nor is the sugar found in apples. http://www.livestrong.com/article/30454-list-foods...

In regards to it's chemical makeup, do you have any sources that show the chemical makeup of the fructose molecule in HFCS is different than the chemical makeup of the fructose molecule in fruit? I'd be curious to read that.


RE: Bad Parents
By Solandri on 8/20/2013 4:28:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
HFCS is "high-fructose" which can be as high as 90% fructose where as natural sugar (cane sugar, table sugar, etc) and juice sugars are mostly, if not entirely, sucrose. HFCS is processed differently by the body. The industry claims to use HFCS-55 in soft drinks (55% fructose) and HFCS-42 in bakes goods and foods, but most lab studies show HFCS-90 is used in almost everything because it is cheapest to produce (less corn syrup is blended with "rear" sugar)

Whoa, slow down there. This is something I see pretty frequently. People dislike something, so when choosing a rationale to explain it, they pick the worst one possible. Even if it contradicts their conclusion.

Natural corn syrup is mostly glucose. It's converted into HFCS by a process (which costs money) which converts some of that glucose into fructose. (The reason they do this is because fructose is nearly twice as sweet as glucose, but more on that later.) So you have it backwards - HFCS-90 is actually the most expensive product (it's made by processing corn syrup to make HFCS-42, then further processing the HFCS-42).

So assuming equal amounts of sugar, using HFCS-90 in soft drinks would be more expensive than using HFCS-55 or HFCS-42. The only reason you'd use HFCS-90 instead of HFCS-55 is because fructose is sweeter than glucose. That means you can use less of it while maintaining the same amount of sweetness. Yes that means you could save money by using less HFCS-90 than HFCS-55 to get the same amount of sweetness, but that would decrease the sugar content of the drink thus making it healthier. And indeed that's exactly what they do in diet soft drinks that don't use sugar substitutes. These use HFCS-90 to provide the same sweetness with less sugar (fewer calories).

So (1) there is no cost-incentive (if you aim for the same amount of sugar) to use HFCS-90 instead of HFCS-55, and in fact it's cheaper to use HFCS-55. And (2) if they did use HFCS-90 instead of HFCS-55 (aiming for the same amount of sweetness), they'd essentially be producing diet soda which would be less fattening for the people drinking it. Without a doubt they'd take advantage of this to lower the calories listed on the FDA label for the drink. So the reason you give for use of HFCS-90 instead of HFCS-55 simply doesn't make sense.

"Natural" sugar is sucrose (glucose and fructose are natural too, but I guess some people like to refer to just sucrose as natural). It's a disaccharide - basically two simpler sugar molecules (monosaccharides) glued together. Your body cannot use raw sucrose. It must first break it down into its constituent monosaccharides. In sucrose's case, the two monosaccharides are... (drumroll) ... glucose and fructose. So sucrose becomes 50% glucose, 50% fructose in your body.

For comparison:

"Natural" sugar = 50% fructose, 50% glucose
HFCS-42 = 42% fructose, 58% glucose
HFCS-55 = 55% fructose, 45% glucose

Note: The "high fructose" in HFCS simply refers to the fact that it contains more fructose than regular corn syrup (which is nearly all glucose). It does not mean it is predominantly fructose or has substantially more fructose than regular table sugar after it's been broken down in your body.

quote:
While that could be true when comparing a favorable blend of HFCS to a high-fructose juice like orange juice, you have left "manufacturing" out of the equation.

That's certainly a valid possibility.

quote:
HFCS is highly chlorinated during production with synthetic agents. Sucralose (Splenda) is highly chlorinated as well. Chlorine is a toxin to the body.

Chlorine is necessary for our survival. The sodium channels which allow our nerves to transmit signals rely on shuffling sodium and potassium ions across cellular membranes. The other half of the ion is chlorine. We get it from table salt (sodium chloride).

While concentrated elemental chlorine is dangerous and harmful, it's a far stretch to then conclude that any chlorine must therefore be bad and our bodies cannot handle it. Drinking water and swimming pool water is chlorinated because the harm from the chlorine is less than the harm from potential pathogens the chlorine kills.

quote:
The true danger of HFCS is how we use it in honey production. There has been a world-wide bee epidemic for nearly a decade, coincidentally, right about the time HFCS was used as a sucrose replacement for honey bees.

Scientists have been trying to figure out the cause of colony collapse disorder for close to a decade now. They have not reached any conclusions. It's irresponsible and alarmist to imply CCD is caused by HFCS when no such link has been conclusively established.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disor...


RE: Bad Parents
By chripuck on 8/20/2013 11:52:36 AM , Rating: 2
You do realize that Agave is 90% fructose? It makes high fructose corn syrup (at 55%) look like low fructose corn syrup. Agave is good for one group of people and only one: diabetics. Otherwise you're getting all the calories of sugar without the chemical signal to your brain that you are full.

Also, the "it's natural so it's ok" reasoning is crazy. Unroasted almonds are natural, but you don't see anybody going round eating those...


RE: Bad Parents
By CaedenV on 8/20/2013 1:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
LOL! Almonds are the example I use to give all of my hippie friends back in Cali when they would go spouting off on their tangents.
Nature hates you! Always remember that and you will live a long and healthy life!


RE: Bad Parents
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2013 5:53:08 PM , Rating: 3
Hey Jammrock.

I didn't mean you're a bad parent because your kid drinks the occasional soda. But 4 a day, AND violently attacking people? Well maybe you're a bad parent then lol.

quote:
The only non-water-but-cheaper-than-soda option is mix drinks (i.e. Kool-Aid like powders). Which are either sugary (a cup of sugar per 2 quarts) or full of artificial sweeteners.


Yeah but you mix Kool-Aid yourself. You don't HAVE to follow directions. You could cut the sugar added by a third and it would still taste better than water. And if the kids don't like it, screw em, they can go to their room without supper! :P lol


RE: Bad Parents
By Jammrock on 8/19/2013 10:41:07 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't think you were. I was pointing out a hypothetical situation. Soda really is super cheap compared to healthy drinks (except tap water).

The agave nectar instead of sugar idea is pretty neat. I'll have to try that out.


RE: Bad Parents
By cknobman on 8/20/2013 10:01:53 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree. Bottled water is super cheap. I can get a 40 pack of 16oz bottled watters for less than $4.00.

Sure my kids would rather have soda but as a responsible parent I dont let them have what they want to "pacify" them. My kids dont act up because as a responsible parent they know I enforce consequences for their behavior.

To make it still affordable and help my kids have something besides plain water we buy the Crystal Light (or equivalent off brand) flavor packets to put in the bottled waters. They come in low sugar or sugar free varieties and make the water taste like a flavored drink.


RE: Bad Parents
By chripuck on 8/20/2013 11:58:54 AM , Rating: 2
Agave nectar is a bad idea. Look it up, it's mostly fructose, so your kids get all of the calories of sugar with none of our natural "I'm full" feeling we get from eating sugar.


RE: Bad Parents
By carnex on 8/20/2013 4:28:25 AM , Rating: 2
What I remember from when I was at that age is that I had simple choice. Water, slightly sweetened tea or to be thirsty. I didn't have a choice to indulge in sugar. Also, tea and tap water are much cheaper.

Maybe, as a consequence, even today I prefer bitter dark coffee, tea, tap water of fruit beer to any carbonated soda.


RE: Bad Parents
By chripuck on 8/20/2013 12:00:09 PM , Rating: 4
Amen brother, amen. My kids can drink 1% milk or water. My nearly 4 year old actually dislikes soda because he's so used to water now. It also helps that my wife and I only drink milk or water and those are the only two things to drink in the house.


RE: Bad Parents
By CaedenV on 8/20/2013 1:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
indeed! Growing up, if there was ever soda or ice cream in the fridge then we started asking who was coming over for dinner, because it was sure to be someone important... and just because it was in the fridge did not mean we were going to get any of it.


RE: Bad Parents
By 91TTZ on 8/20/2013 10:44:22 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
A 2-liter of soda is cheaper than a gallon of milk or bottle of juice. And your kids are always much more happy drinking the soda than either. While giving the soda to your kids to pacify them can be construed as bad parenting, when money is tight and every penny counts soda can be an appealing option. Especially in areas that have bad or harmful tap water.


Feeding your kids crap is never an appealing option. Only bad parents would take that option. It's the quick and easy way out of parenting.


RE: Bad Parents
By CaedenV on 8/20/2013 1:18:46 PM , Rating: 2
I am not sure that I buy the whole 'healthy food is more expensive than eating out' thing. My wife and I recently started getting our act together towards getting out of debt. Come to find out that we had been spending ~$600/mo between groceries, fast food, and the occasional eating out. We removed the eating out and fast food (by far the hardest part for me!), started shopping at a cheaper store instead of the big grocery store, and started taking advantage of coupons and deals that we find. Now we are spending a mere ~$280/mo on groceries to feed 2 adults, 1 kiddo, and 1 infant (That is $320/mo I could be spending on tech toys!). So with 3 people eating solid food, with 3 (very) full meals a day, that comes down to $1.11 per meal, per person. There is no fast food on earth that can compare with that kind of price and quantity. On top of that we are not compromising to the point to forcing ourselves to eat food that we dislike, and we are not compromising on the quantity of our food either. In fact, because we are planning our meals instead of just eating 'whatever whenever' we are eating a lot healthier food, which will hold its own benefits in time. So we are eating healthier AND cheaper, which is something I always thought was not possible.

On top of that, if a person is truly poor then there is WIC to pay for that 'expensive' healthy food and drinks! It is one of the few government programs that I can actually approve of even if it is abused by some.

As we have found with our little escapade in attempting to spend less money, it is not so much that food is expensive, it is that the deals change every week, and you have to give a little concerted effort to plan out meals that take advantage of what deals are available. A little bit of planning with your eyes open goes a long way towards cutting the bills down.

Buying soda instead of something healthy is an excuse, not a money saving tip.


RE: Bad Parents
By ClownPuncher on 8/20/2013 2:02:54 PM , Rating: 2
Most soft drinks do not hydrate you.


RE: Bad Parents
By ppardee on 8/21/2013 1:37:09 PM , Rating: 2
For the record, it is NEVER cheaper to go out than to buy groceries. Ever. Whoever told you that lie needs to be slapped in the face with a bunch of bananas.

And why can't your kids drink water? If your kids throw a fit when they don't have something sweet/flavored to drink, that's bad parenting. They should be drinking water primarily and see flavored drinks as a treat, not drinking flavored drinks primarily and seeing water as a horrible last resort if times get desperate.


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