Category Archives: Obesity

Study estimates sugary drinks more deadly than violent crime in Mexico

Allison Jackson reports for Global Post:

XXX WAS8734048 A HTH USA CAMexico is renowned for being one of the most dangerous countries in the world, so it might sound strange to hear that sugary drinks pose a bigger threat to life here than violent crime.

Sugar-sweetened beverages such as Coca-Cola,Gatorade and homemade drinks known as “agua fresca” kill far more people every year in Mexico than criminal gangs.

A study by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts Universityestimates a staggering 24,000 Mexicans die each year from diabetes, cancer and heart disease that are linked to sugary drinks.

Compare that figure to the roughly 15,649 murders officially recorded in 2014 and it’s clear which is the biggest killer in the Latin American country.

Worldwide, the total sugary-drink death toll is estimated at 184,000, with more than 70% of deaths caused by diabetes. The researchers said this was the first detailed global report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages.’

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Nestlé to Remove Artificial Colours and Flavors from its U.S. Confectionery Products

Sugar content in breakfast cereals has risen 20% with supermarket own brands the worst offenders

Food & Drink Europe reports:

Tesco Special Flakes saw the biggest sugar rise since 2012 - up 35.8% to 16.3 g of sugar per 100 g servingSugar content has risen in a fifth of UK ready-to-eat breakfast cereals since 2012 with the largest spikes coming from retail own brands, finds Action on Sugar research.

The public health lobby group looked at the listen sugar and salt content of 50 RTE UK breakfast cereals – the same products Which? Investigated in 2012 – to make nutritional comparisons. Brands included Kellogg, Nestle, Weetabix and Quaker, as well as private label products by Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Sainsbury’s among others.

Findings showed that 10 out of the 50 cereals contained more sugar than in 2012 and 18 contained the same levels of sugar. Of the 10 products containing more sugar, seven were private label.’

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Cops are the most obese workers in America, study reveals

Tim McFarlan reports for the Daily Mail:

‘Their job is to protect and serve – but it seems some police officers interpret this as an excuse to enjoy too many extra servings at the lunch table.

A study has revealed US cops have the highest rates of obesity among any profession in the country.

Along with firefighters and security guards, nearly 41 per cent of boys in blue are obese, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.’

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Most Brits don’t eat five a day (unless you count chocolate)

Georgie Keate reports for The Times:

Fruit and vegetables‘More than three million people have not eaten any greens in the past week with most of them believing chocolate, cheese and meat are part of their five fruit and vegetables a day.

A recent study has found that despite the Department of Health issuing guidelines in 2002, men eat only 2.4 portions a day on average, while women are only slightly healthier, eating 2.7 daily portions.

Birds Eye, which commissioned the reserach, discovered that 10 per cent of adults were earting fewer greens than they did as a child, while 11 per cent claimed bad memories of school dinner.’

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How a national food policy could save millions of lives

Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter write for The Washington Post:

‘How we produce and consume food has a bigger impact on Americans’ well-being than any other human activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy; food touches everything from our health to the environment, climate change, economic inequality and the federal budget. Yet we have no food policy — no plan or agreed-upon principles — for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole.

That must change.

The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air. If a foreign power were to do such harm, we’d regard it as a threat to national security, if not an act of war, and the government would formulate a comprehensive plan and marshal resources to combat it. (The administration even named an Ebola czar to respond to a disease that threatens few Americans.) So when hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable — as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are — preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.’

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John Oliver On Sugar: It’s In Everything!

Coca-Cola and Its Egregious History

Heather Gray writes for CounterPunch:

‘The Coca-Cola Company is, of course, a capitalist company meaning that its goal is to make money virtually any way possible. It’s good at this. Its market cap today is $168.7 billion according to Forbes.  Since it’s founding in the late 1800’s it is now known to be the most recognized product in the world. Its goal of making money is accomplished regardless of the consequences be it environmental degradation, pollution, abuse of and destabilizing water use, worker assassinations, discrimination in the work place, or the health of individuals drinking its product, to name but a few.  Promoting a product that requires purchase by huge numbers of individuals in order to make a profit necessitates deliberate efforts at creating a positive public image. It’s good at that also but it is simultaneously considered by some as one of the most evil corporations in the world – a designation that suits it well.

Living in Atlanta, the home of Coca-Cola, the time has come for me to begin writing about the company, as Alex Cockburn had wanted. The purpose of this article on Coca-Cola is to share an assortment of some of my personal experiences with the corporation in the past few decades in reference to Atlanta, South Africa and the Philippines. For a fairly comprehensive list of criticisms against The Coca-Cola Company throughout the world that I won’t be referring to please go to: Killer Coke.’

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The Government-Industry Conspiracy that Promotes Crap Food in School

Michele Simon writes for Al Jazeera America:

‘People often ask me, “How does lobbying work?” Last week it was with fat and sugar, when the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) hosted its 32nd annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party. Some 6,000 bowls of ice cream were served up to Sen.Tom Harkin, Reps. Pete Sessions, Robert Aderholt, Jeff Denham, John Shimkus, Ron Kind and Lamar Smith, among others, according to Politico.

Dairy lobbyists are ever present in Washington, and their efforts usually pay off. For example, last year when the IDFA implored the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give dairy foods a pass in the new snack food guidelines for schools, the agency capitulated, opening school doors to even more junk food, such as YoCrunch Lowfat Yogurt with M&Ms.

This is just one of many examples I uncovered in a report I published last month, “Whitewashed: How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods” (PDF). The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. The assumption that eating dairy is essential to the diet has obstructed our ability to criticize federal government support for unhealthy dairy products, of which there are many.

One of the most important forms of government support is the federally mandated collection of industry fees for checkoff programs that promote milk and dairy.’

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NHS hospital cafés and junk food outlets ‘are helping to fuel the obesity crisis’

Laura Donnelly, Rosie Shields and Lily Waddell report for The Telegraph:

‘Medical experts urged the health service to “get its house in order” and clear its hospitals of junk food companies such as Burger King and Subway and coffee shops selling muffins and high-sugar drinks. Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, said the health service had to take “hard-nosed action” to end the sale of junk food in hospitals, to help tackle the obesity crisis. Health campaigners said they were particularly disturbed by the march of Costa Coffee, which has recently come under fire for selling fruit drinks with four times the recommended daily sugar limits.

The investigation by The Sunday Telegraph found 92 branches of the company among the 160 NHS trusts, alongside a host of burger chains, pizzerias, muffin shops and patisseries. The latest figures show that two- thirds of Britons are overweight or obese. A leading cardiologist said allowing companies such as Burger King, Subway and Greggs bakeries to operate from NHS premises was damaging the health of staff, patients and visitors. Senior managers at some of the hospitals said they wanted to close fast-food outlets, but faced being stung by financial penalties from their subcontractors.’

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UK needs four-day week to combat stress, says top doctor

Editor’s Note: Abby Martin recently discussed America’s obsession with working and how it is destroying their health and family life. Below the video you can also find links to other related information including a great article on “bullshit jobs“.

Denis Campbell writes for the Guardian:

Professor John Ashton said a four-day week could help ease mental and physical health problems‘One of Britain’s leading doctors has called for the country to switch to a four-day week to help combat high levels of work-related stress, let people spend more time with their families or exercising, and reduce unemployment. Bringing the standard working week down from five to four days would also help address medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and the mental ill-health associated with overwork or lack of work, Prof John Ashton said.

The president of the UK Faculty of Public Health said the five-day week should be phased out to end what he called “a maldistribution of work” that is damaging many people’s health. “When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, [work-related] mental health is clearly a major issue. We should be moving towards a four-day week because the problem we have in the world of work is you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs”, Ashton said. “We’ve got a maldistribution of work. The lunch-hour has gone; people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working,” added the leader of the UK’s 3,300 public-health experts working in the NHS, local government and academia.’

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How much sugar do we eat?

Christine Jeavans writes for BBC News:

Soft drinks in a supermarket‘There is fierce debate about the role of added sugar in contributing to the obesity crisis. UK government scientists today halved the recommended level of added sugar people should eat each day. And the World Health Organization has also said people should aim to get just 5% of their daily calories from the sweet stuff. But calculating how much sugar we eat is not as simple as it sounds.

Sugar is sugar – right? Not quite. Health professionals take a dim view of sugars added to processed food but say that naturally occurring sweetness in milk and fruit is largely fine, with the exception of juice. Current advice says no more than 11% of a person’s daily food calories should come from added sugars, or 10% once alcohol is taken into account. That works out at about 50g of sugars for a woman and 70g for a man, depending on how active they are. And it’s this level which has just been halved in a draft report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. But look at the back of a food packet and you’ll see a guideline amount for total sugars – including those naturally occurring in fruit and other ingredients.’

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Scientists and nutritionists condemn Sugarpova Candy Lounge at Wimbledon

Chris Green and Gregory McGann write for the Independent:

‘Scientists and nutritionists have condemned the creation of a pop-up store for Maria Sharapova’s Sugarpova sweet brand near the All England club as “reprehensible”, saying it bears comparison with Martina Navratilova’s decision to wear clothes emblazoned with cigarette advertising in 1982… Sharapova, 27, the world’s wealthiest female athlete, founded the sweet firm in 2012… the tennis star’s sugary sales pitch coincides with the publication of a report which recommended that people should more than halve their intake of added sugar. A draft report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition said sugar should account for no more than five cent of a person’s energy intake, despite many failing to meet the previous 10 per cent target. A single can of fizzy drink would swallow most adults’ daily allowance.

Professor Tom Sanders, the head of diabetes and nutritional sciences at King’s College London, said: “I find sporting celebrity endorsements of unhealthy foods such as sweets and soft drinks reprehensible. The use of player’s clothing to promote cigarettes was outlawed almost 30 years ago – now it is time to crackdown on player endorsement of unhealthy foods. I would like to see an outright ban on sports personalities being involved in the advertising or marketing of sugar sweetened drinks, confectionary and crisps. Celebrity endorsement has a huge impact on sales to young people who are those most at risk of become obese.”’

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22,000 British Troops Are Too Fat to Fight

Aaron Akinyemi reports for the International Business Times:

British army‘More than 22,000 British troops have been found to be overweight within the last three years, new figures reveal. Tens of thousands of serving British Army personnel are at risk of health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, shortness of breath and high blood pressure due to obesity, according to data from the Ministry of Defence.

The figures also reveal that over the past three years, 32,419 male and female soldiers have failed the army’s basic fitness test, which includes sit-ups, press-ups and a 1.5-mile run. Furthermore, 50 troops have been dismissed from the army for obesity since 2002. The statistics cover March 2011 to March 2014, and include troops who may have served on the front line at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.’

READ MORE @ THE IB TIMES…

Parasites, Killing Their Host: The Food Industry’s Solution to Obesity

Mark Bittman writes for The New York Times:

‘You can buy food from farmers — directly, through markets, any way you can find — and I hope you do. But unless you’re radically different from most of us, much of what you eat comes from corporations that process, market, deliver and sell “food,” a majority of which is processed beyond recognition. The problem is that real food isn’t real profitable. “It’s hard to market fruit and vegetables without adding value,” says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “If you turn a potato into a potato chip you not only make more money — you create a product with a long shelf life.” Potatoes into chips and frozen fries; wheat into soft, “enriched” bread; soybeans into oil and meat; corn into meat and a staggering variety of junk.’ theory has it that as long as even one of the big food companies remains cynical and uncaring about its market, they all must remain so.’

READ MORE @ THE NEW YORK TIMES…

“A slightly-better-for-you junk food is still junk food”: Coca-Cola Attempts to Go “Healthy” With New Coke Life

Jason Best writes for Take Part:

‘It’s hard to know where to begin in dissecting Coke Life, which is Coca-Cola’s latest attempt to stem the rising tide of bad publicity and research that relentlessly links its sugary beverages to obesity and other health problems—all of which has sent soda sales south. I guess, though, we should start with what Coke Life supposedly is. Released in Argentina and Chile last year and soon to debut in the U.K., Coke Life is a “low-cal” alternative to regular Coke, made with the (kinda, sorta natural) sweetener stevia—but also, it’s worth pointing out, plenty of sugar.’

READ MORE @ TAKE PART…

Police defend decision to arrest parents of obese boy on suspicion of neglect

Ben Quinn reports for The Guardian:

man on weighing scalespolice force has defended its decision to arrest the parents of a 15 stone 11-year-old on suspicion of neglect for allowing their son to become obese. The un-named 49-year-old man and 44-year-old woman, both from the King’s Lynn area, are currently on bail pending further inquiries after concerns were raised about the boy’s welfare.

Norfolk police have said that intervention at this level was “very rare” and only took place where other attempts to protect the child had been unsuccessful. A spokesperson for the force said that officers from the child abuse investigation unit worked closely with health and social services to deal with “sensitive issues such as obesity and neglect of a child”.’

READ MORE @ THE GUARDIAN…

Fruit juices, fizzy drinks and cereals push children over sugar limits

Laura Donnelly reports for The Telegraph:

Fruit juices and fizzy drinks provide the largest source of sugar for children aged between four and 18‘A single glass of fruit juice a day is the most anyone should drink, new guidelines say, as a report warns that families are consuming unsafe levels of sugar. There is rising concern that sugar is one of the greatest threats to health, creating an obesity time bomb and contributing to spiralling levels of diabetes. Health officials issued the warning as a national study found that children and teenagers are consuming around 40 per cent more added sugar than the recommended daily allowance.

Fruit juices and fizzy drinks are the chief culprit, providing the largest source of sugar for children aged between four and 18, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey by Public Health England found. The country’s most senior nutritionist yesterday advised limiting children and adults to 150ml of fruit juice per day, and always accompanied by a meal. It is the first time health officials have outlined such a limit.’

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Why We’re Fat: I Went to the Nutritionists’ Annual Confab and It Was Catered by McDonald’s

Kiera Butler writes for Mother Jones:

‘With 75,000 members, the CDA’s parent organization, the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), is the world’s largest professional association for nutritionists and dietitians. It accredits undergraduate and graduate programs in nutrition science and awards credentials to dietitian degree candidates who pass its exam. In Washington, its lobbying arm is active on issues including childhood obesity, Medicare, and the farm bill.

It also has strong ties to the food industry. In 2013, Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and food politics blogger, launched an investigation (PDF) into the academy’s sponsorship policies. Simon found that its corporate support has increased dramatically over the past decade: In 2001, the academy listed just 10 sponsors. By 2011, there were 38, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Mars, and many others. Corporate contributions are its largest source of income, generating nearly 40 percent of its total revenue.

Simon also learned that in 2012, Nestlé paid $47,200 for its 2,500-square-foot display in the exhibition hall at the annual AND conference, and PepsiCo paid $38,000 for 1,600 square feet. The academy’s position papers, she noted, state that its sponsors do not influence its positions on controversial issues. And yet it often takes a pro-industry stance. When New York City was considering a ban on sales of oversized sodas, for example, the academy opposed it.’

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Overweight seen as the norm, says chief medical officer

Nick Triggle reports for BBC News:

ScalesBeing overweight is increasingly seen as the norm, England’s chief medical officer says.

In her annual report on the state of health, Dame Sally Davies said this was concerning, pointing out many people did not recognise they had a problem.

Parents of overweight children were also failing to spot the signs too, she said. Dame Sally blamed the way weight was being portrayed by the media and clothes industry.

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Has the scientific study has become a flawed manual for living?

Anne Perkins writes for the Guardian:

[…] What is puzzling is how we – each one of us – should respond to all this persuasively authoritative information. In some ways cohort studies such as Oxford’s Million Women act as a kind of mirror for every older woman. In a million women, there will be one who is going to be just like us, a little ahead on the amble through life, a pattern from whom we can learn. Where she stumbles over an extra glass of wine while stroking her cat and thus succumbs to a cancer, we can say no and live on.

That’s what’s so alluring about all these studies. The beguiling weight of scientific evidence seems to offer both an individualised glimpse of our future selves and an analytic tool for explaining why our present lives are such rubbish. Every “study” becomes a guide to modern life, a teacher who knows us better than we know ourselves, an analyst who can look into our souls. Where our ancestors relied on the Bible or at least a political philosophy, we can write our biography in studies. They become the measure against which we judge ourselves. Worse, they become the measure we hold other people to. Studies define us, and they define otherness. The more we know about the epidemiology of cancer or obesity, the more stringent we can be in our condemnation of those who refuse to live by the rules.

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Too much power in too few hands: Food giants take over the industry

Sarah Morrison writes for The Independent:

Click to enlarge

Increasingly, a handful of multinationals are tightening their grip on the commodity markets, with potentially dramatic effects for consumers and food producers alike. […] Three companies now account for more than 40 per cent of global coffee sales, eight companies control the supply of cocoa and chocolate, seven control 85 per cent of tea production, five account for 75 per cent of the world banana trade, and the largest six sugar traders account for about two-thirds of world trade, according to the new publication from the Fairtrade Foundation.

[…] This is the year “to put the politics of food on the public agenda and find better solutions to the insanity of our broken food system”. More people may be shopping ethically – sales of Fairtrade cocoa grew by more than 20 per cent last year to £153m – but, according to the report, the world’s food system is “dangerously out of control”.

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Sugar adviser linked to Coca-Cola ‘will not act’ on UN guidance

Sugar in foodSophie Borland reports for The Daily Mail:

A radical UN recommendation to halve sugar intake will not be implemented in Britain says a Whitehall adviser on nutrition who has worked for Mars and Coca-Cola. Professor Ian MacDonald, head of a panel of health experts in charge of drawing up guidelines on sugar, said it will ‘not act’ on the World Health Organisation’s proposal.

The move led to fury yesterday as senior doctors and MPs accused officials of ‘immense arrogance’ for ignoring the suggested limit of six teaspoons a day, in the face of an obesity crisis that threatens to overwhelm the NHS. And campaigners last night accused Professor MacDonald – who only recently left the pay of the two fast food giants – of being ‘in the pocket’ of the sugar industry.

He is one of six scientists on the panel of eight who have links to manufacturers of sugary foods, including the world’s largest chocolate maker and fizzy drinks producers. The row comes amid growing concern over the high levels of sugar in everyday foods, which experts believe is a major contributor to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

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Obesity in U.S. Kids Plummets, But Still a Problem Overall

John Johnson writes for Newser:

Here’s something we don’t hear much: good news on the nation’s childhood obesity rate. The CDC says it’s down among kids ages 2 to 5 by 43% over the last decade, reports Time. That’s not just a mild surprise, it’s “stunning,” declares the New York Times. Specifically, the percentage of kids in that group who were obese dropped from 14% in 2004 to 8% in 2012. “This is the first time we’ve seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group,” says the author of the new report to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “It was exciting.”

Of course, the federal survey shows that obesity in the overall population remains a problem, reports NBC News, with about 33% of adults and 17% of all kids and teens classified as such. But the drop among the very young obviously bodes well. What’s going on? The stories cite a slew of potential factors, from fewer sugary drinks, to increased breastfeeding, to better physical-education programs at school, to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. In a statement, Obama said she was “thrilled” at the improved numbers. (A recent study show why it’s important: Kids are who obese in kindergarten are more likely to remain that way as adults.)

READ MORE FROM NEWSER…

Is Obesity a Free Market Failure?: Interview with Dr. Roberto De Vogli

Abby Martin speaks with Dr. Roberto De Vogli, lead author of a recent report in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization that concludes that stronger government intervention is needed to slow and possibly even reverse the problem of obesity. (Breaking the Set)

Food Giants Are Getting People Addicted to Their Food: Interview with Michael Moss

New data reveals how the obesity crisis affects different areas of the UK

Fat England: Alarming new figures show 64 per cent of people are overweight or obese - raising their risk of an early death. Map shows the top 10 fattest local authority areas of the country, according to BMIFrom BBC News:

Copeland in West Cumbria is the fattest local authority area in England, according to new government figures. The borough has 75.9% of its population classed as overweight or obese, the Public Health England data show. Overall, 63.8% of adults in England have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or over – a figure of between 18.5 and 24.9 is deemed healthy for an adult.

The fattest region is the North East, where 68% of people are overweight, followed by the West Midlands at 65.7%. Other obesity hotspots include Doncaster (74.4%), East Lindsey in Lincolnshire (73.8%) and Ryedale in North Yorkshire (73.7%). The thinnest local authority areas include several in London, such as Kensington and Chelsea (45.9%) and Richmond upon Thames (47.6%).

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Many children ‘slower runners than their parents were’

children racingFrom BBC News:

Many children cannot run as fast as their parents could when they were young, a study of global fitness says.

Experts say the work – being presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting – suggests children’s fitness levels may be declining.

Researchers analysed data spanning 46 years and involving more than 25 million children in 28 countries.

On average, children today run a mile 90 seconds slower than did their counterparts 30 years ago, they said.

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Obesity experts appalled by EU move to approve health claim for fructose

Fizzy drink canFrom The Guardian:

Obesity experts say they are appalled by an EU decision to allow a “health claim” for fructose, the sweetener implicated in the disastrous upsurge in weight in the US.

Fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is used in Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other sweetened US drinks. Many believe the use of high-fructose corn syrup caused obesity to rise faster in the US than elsewhere in the world. Europe has largely used cane and beet sugar instead.

But the EU has now ruled that food and drink manufacturers can claim their sweetened products are healthier if they replace more than 30% of the glucose and sucrose they contain with fructose.

The decision was taken on the advice of the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), on the grounds that fructose has a lower glycaemic index (GI) – it does not cause as high and rapid a blood sugar spike as sucrose or glucose.

But, say obesity experts, fructose is metabolised differently from other sugars – it goes straight to the liver and unprocessed excess is stored there as fat, building up deposits that can cause life-threatening disease

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American fast food is coming to Africa

American fast food is coming to AfricaFrom the Global Post:

Some of the biggest names in American fast food are on a mission to bring burritos, Buffalo wings and Blizzards to untapped markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

Their products are so far largely unknown here. But having seen the success of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken in some African countries, they are convinced that their brands have big potential.

It’s the latest example of the lure of business in Africa, viewed by many investors as the next frontier market in the developing world. As foreign interest in Africa’s emerging middle class continues to grow, a more diverse range of companies are seeking a toehold on the continent.

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