Archive for October, 2008
The Associated Press reported today that there has indeed been an increase in food allergies in the last ten years (though any preschool teacher, parent or caregiver could have told you the same thing!).
According to the Center for Disease Control, today it is now estimated that at least 3 million American children suffer from food allergies, though AllergyKids questions how the study was conducted and its impact on underestimating the scope of the problem:
“The CDC results came from an in-person, door-to-door survey in 2007 of the households of 9,500 U.S. children under age 18.
When asked if a child in the house had any kind of food allergy in the previous 12 months, about 4 percent said yes. The parents were not asked if a doctor had made the diagnosis, and no medical records were checked. Some parents may not know the difference between immune system-based food allergies and digestive disorders like lactose intolerance, so it’s possible the study’s findings are a bit off.”
Perhaps a more accurate assessment can be gleaned from the CDC report and the jaw-dropping number of hospitalizations resulting from food allergic reactions over this same time period:
“The study also found that the number of children hospitalized for food allergies was up. The number of hospital discharges jumped from about 2,600 a year in the late 1990s to more than 9,500 annually in recent years, the CDC results showed.”
An increase from 2,600 to 9,500 suggests an increase of almost 300%. Is this estimate a more accurate reflection of the growing epidemic? And what burden will this present not only to our children, but to our schools, our health care system and our economy as a whole?
The first step on the road to healing: admitting we have a problem.
Houston, we have a problem.
Since the introduction of High Fructose Corn Syrup in the late 1970s and its widespread adoption by Coke and Pepsi in 1984, it has become the preferred sweetener for many food manufacturers, mostly because it is cheap (especially when made with government-subsidized corn, as is unfortunately the case in the U.S.).
Given the recent increase in the number of children (and adults) with a corn allergy, AllergyKids would like to highlight this recent article from one of our health heroes, Dr. Andrew Weil.
Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Make You Fat?
“High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made of roughly 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Since its introduction in the late 1970s, it has become the preferred sweetener for many food manufacturers, mostly because it is cheap (especially when made with government-subsidized corn, as is unfortunately the case in the U.S.).
Now, new research from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centers shows what many have long suspected: our bodies make fat from fructose more readily than from other kinds of sugar. In the research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, six healthy individuals went through three tests: one in which they drank 100 percent glucose, another with half glucose and half fructose, and a third with 25 percent glucose and 75 percent fructose. The tests were random and double-blind, and the subjects ate a regular lunch about four hours later.
The researchers found that lipogenesis, the process by which sugars are turned into body fat, increased significantly when as little as half the glucose was replaced with fructose. Fructose given at breakfast also changed the way the body handled the food eaten at lunch. After fructose consumption, the liver increased the storage of lunch fats that might have been used for other purposes.
Of course, HFCS isn’t the sole cause of the obesity epidemic, but it is certainly a major offender.
Regardless of what the new industry commercials say about its being natural, one of the best dietary decisions you can make is to eliminate it from your diet. Not only does HFCS boost fat storage, but it also serves as a “marker”: any food that contains it is likely overprocessed and full of cheap, unhealthy, unnatural ingredients. Stick with natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup and use them in moderation – or better yet, retrain your taste buds to appreciate the subtle sweetness of fresh fruit. While fruit contains a small amount of natural fructose, the bulk, fiber and relatively low sugar density of the fruit’s flesh minimizes the lipogenesis potential.”
To learn more about ways to protect your family from artificial and synthetic ingredients now found in the American food supply, please watch AllergyKids’ appearance on Good Morning America or visit www.allergykids.com and www.drweil.com.