Sunday, May 16, 2010

Muffin Top Epidemic

"Muffin-top" is a generally pejorative slang term used to describe the phenomenon of overhanging flesh when it spills over the waistline of pants or skirts in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing. This generally occurs when a person wears low-rise jeans, hip-hugger pants, and/or midriff-baring tops that are too small.

The question I have is why is this problem so widespread? I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that High Fructose Corn Syrup is a major culprit in this phenomenon. High fructose corn syrup was virtually unheard of until the 1970's when it was added to many foods and beverages, replacing white sugar and other sugars. Food manufacturers found this simple sugar tasted good and was a lot cheaper to use than other sweeteners. It didn't take long before high fructose corn syrup was added to everything, including bread and many processed foods. Perhaps by coincidence (perhaps not) the rate of obesity began steadily increasing after high fructose corn syrup made its appearance on the supermarket shelves as a hidden ingredient in foods. Many nutritionists blame it for the spike in weight gain following the low-fat craze of the 1980s, since greater amounts of high fructose corn syrup were added to products such as low fat cookies to make up for the taste lost by reducing the fat.

There are many reasons why high fructose corn syrup is bad for health and especially bad for people trying to lose weight. According to medical doctor and noted health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, high fructose corn syrup is the sweetener most easily metabolized by the body directly into fat. Drinking just one can of soda pop puts 40 grams of high fructose corn syrup into your body, which is more than the American Medical Association's recommended daily allowance for all sweeteners! Drinking a can of pop along with eating a sandwich on white bread with high fructose corn sweetened-grape jelly and peanut butter can put your consumption sky-high. This manufactured fructose is sweeter than sugar in an unhealthy way, and is digested differently in a bad way. Research has shown that "high-fructose corn syrup" goes directly to the liver, releasing enzymes that instruct the body to then store fat! This may elevate triglyceride (fat in blood) levels and elevate cholesterol levels. This fake fructose may slow fat burning and cause weight gain. Other research indicates that it does not stimulate insulin production, which usually creates a sense of being full. Therefore, people may eat more than they should

Within the body, high fructose corn sweetener is processed very differently from natural sugars found in fruits and other food sources. Dr. Elizabeth Parks, writing in the Journal of Nutrition in 2008, states that high fructose corn syrup is quickly converted by the liver directly into fats, which are then stored. Some are stored directly at the liver. These can lead to raised cholesterol levels as well as create conditions ripe for insulin resistance, a precursor to Type II (adult-onset) diabetes. Worse yet, high fructose corn syrup is also a trigger food for some people; ingesting even a small amount of high fructose corn syrup sets up a craving in the body akin to an alcoholic's craving for more booze once they take a single sip.

Losing weight is not about deprivation; natural weight loss is possible once you eliminate high fructose corn syrup from the diet. The first steps are fairly simple; eliminate obvious sources such as soda pop and other sweetened beverages. Even fruit juices can contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup, so unless the label states that the product is 100% fruit juice, or doesn't list high fructose corn syrup among the ingredients, skip it. Other healthy beverages include tea of all sorts, plain water, and sparkling water. The health benefits of tea are legendary and whether you opt for green tea, black tea, or herbal teas, unsweetened tea is a wonderful beverage to consume. Read labels carefully on all processed products. Breads, cookies, crackers, boxed and frozen dinners, ice cream and frozen desserts all contain great amounts of high fructose corn syrup. Making your own desserts ensures that all the ingredients are high fructose corn syrup free. Cooking from scratch using only unprocessed ingredients takes only a little bit more time and helps you avoid excess corn syrup, salt, and chemicals.

The only way to make lasting changes is to focusing on natural, whole, unprocessed foods. While fructose does exist in fruits, these natural plant foods also contain several vitamins and minerals that effectively disable the ill effects of the fructose they contain. When you're eating processed and prepared foods, you're often getting the desired taste but completely missing the nutritional value of your food. To truly take control of your weight, you must become aware of the foods that damage your body, and the foods that nourish and heal you. More often than not, if you suspect a food is unhealthy for you, you're right. Inspect your labels, or better yet, try eating foods that don't come packaged and processed for a couple of weeks and note the difference in your weight and overall health.


  1. I like this post, and it is absolutely true. High Fructose corn syrup is in just about every non organic/packaged foods. Like you pointed out, it does signal the body to eat or drink more of this what I call, "garbage." Food manufacturers are slick, and do know exactly what this stuff is capable of doing. But as long as people keep buying it, which to the food manufacturer they should since they have the consumer "hooked," then demand will still be there. It is information like this that you are posting that needs to be told, read, and practiced by individuals. Ultimately people will begin to understand and partake and companies will adjust. Unfortunately, when companies do adjust, many of them will find new ways to "trick" the consumer into thinking that eating or drinking the product is a healthy alternative.

  2. Hi Eric,

    Thank you for the feedback! Below is a book summary that speaks to the important topic that you brought up about food manufacturers:

    The United States is currently embroiled in a national debate over the growing public health crisis caused by poor diet. Many people are starting to ask who is to blame and how can we fix the problem, especially among children? The major food companies are responding with a massive public relations campaign. These companies, including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and General Mills are increasingly on the defensive. In response, they are pretending to sell healthier food and otherwise position themselves as "part of the solution.” All the while, they continue to lobby against commonsense nutrition policies. This book explains how to fight back by offering reliable resources. Readers will learn how to spot the PR, how to not be fooled, and how to organize, for example, to improve school food. Appetite for Profit, for the first time: Explains why we cannot not trust food corporations to “do the right thing” Describes the local battles of going up against the powerful food lobbies.
    Offers a comprehensive guide to the public relations, front groups, and lobbying tactics that food companies employ to trick the American public.Provides an entertaining glossary that explains corporate rhetoric,including phrases like “better-for-you foods” and “frivolous lawsuit”

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