Many years ago, running an audit of my own energy consumption, I worked out the energy content of all the food I’d eaten in a typical day, and came up with a figure (in kiloJoules) that was about three-quarters of what it was supposed to be for a young man of my age and height and weight.
I wondered if I was living a far less active life than I imagined, even though in those days I used to walk everywhere, thinking nothing of walking for miles.
I was about to give up the enterprise when I suddenly realised that I’d neglected to add in the copious amounts of sugar that I added to the numerous cups of tea I drank every day. And when I added that, I came up with the right energy consumption figure.
It was a bit of a shock to find that I was getting a quarter of my energy requirements from sugar in tea. And I began cutting down on sugar. Not because I thought the diet unhealthy, but because it was doing no good for my teeth.
I ran the audit because I’d begun to think about more or less everything in terms of energy. I was myself a sort of engine, that burned glucose and oxygen. My veins were filled with this binary fuel. And the air in my lungs provided me with the oxygen, and the food in my stomach provided me with the glucose. And sucrose in sugar is very nearly the same thing as glucose.
So I find the growing War on Sugar rather disturbing. Sugar is almost pure energy. If the sucrose were replaced by glucose (and you can buy glucose – in fact I believe that Lucozade™ and some other energy drinks contain glucose which is very readily absorbed into the blood stream), would the health experts object?
Only a few days ago Chris Snowdon was reporting:
NHS England warns that unless health trusts reduce sugary drinks sales will be banned from hospitals.
Sugary drinks will be banned from sale in NHS hospitals across England from July, the health service has announced.
This week NHS England released an updated contract for hospitals, which for the first time included a clause prohibiting the sale of sugar sweetened beverages.
And today via Walt on Facebook I read:
Advertising junk food to children would be banned, sugar-sweetened drinks taxed, and unhealthy vending machines removed from all medical facilities under an all-out assault on poor nutrition being pushed by the Australian Medical Association.
In a new position statement, the powerful doctors’ group says a suite of measures needs to be adopted by governments and businesses in 2018 to reduce the large-scale damage being wrought by over consumption of sugar.
Taxing sugar means taxing energy. For that’s what sugar is. The little 500 gm pack of sugar I’ve only just opened contains 1,700 kJ of energy, and zero protein, and zero salt.
And when I put it back on the shelf I’d got it from, I performed work as I lifted it about 1.1 metre against the gravitational accelaration of 9.81 m/s². And the exact amount of work was 0.5 x 9.81 x 1.1 Joules, or 5.3955 J. So there was enough energy in the pack of sugar for me to do that amount of work 315,000 times. (In fact I had to do a lot more work than that, because I also had to lift my arm and hand as I raised the packet, and I had to walk to the kitchen).
Alcohol also contains energy. Ethanol contains 29 kJ/g. A bottle of whisky is a high-energy drink. A litre bottle of whisky, 40% ethanol with a density of 0.789 g/mL, contains 0.4 x 1000 x 0.789 gms of ethanol, or 315.6 gms, which is 9152 kJ – over 5 times as much energy as a 500 g pack of granulated sugar. Perhaps that’s why they once used to send soldiers into battle fighting drunk?
Since the average human daily energy requirement is about 8800 kJ, a litre of whisky a day would be about exactly right.
Cigarettes contain zero energy. But because they are appetite suppressants, they might be regarded as energy-saving devices. And this might be one reason why in Britain more or less everybody smoked during WW2: more or less everybody was half-starving thanks to food rationing, and cigarettes made the starvation bearable. And if people didn’t smoke, they’d probably get a good dose of tobacco smoke from those who did.
The other thing that healthist busybodies want people to do is get more exercise. But exercise – if only in the form of going for a walk – always entails an increased expenditure of energy.
So the healthists want to increase people’s energy expenditure (more exercise) while reducing their energy consumption (reduced sugar, alcohol). A few weeks ago they were calling for food energy consumption to be reduced to about 70% of its former recommended levels. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that they want to starve everyone.
The healthists seem to want to recreate WW2. Some of them more or less say as much, pointing out how slim and fit and healthy everybody was during the war. So they want to effectively re-introduce rationing, plus lots of exercise – only this time minus the appetite-suppressing cigarettes.
But the reality of wartime was that people were starving. They were starving just like prisoners in concentration camps were starving – and those prisoners were even more delightfully slim and fit.
Perhaps that’s all that healthism is: an aesthetic preference for slim, wiry, active people rather than plump couch potatoes. It’s like preferring women to look like Twiggy (or Ann Coulter) rather than Mae West or Mamma Cass. It’s personal appearance that matters. It’s the tyranny of fashionable slimness. But it’s a tyranny that has spread from fashion magazines and gymnasiums into Public Health, who are going to force everyone to slim down, whether they want to or not. From Wikipedia:
Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by low weight, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin, resulting in food restriction. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are in fact underweight. If asked they usually deny they have a problem with low weight. Often they weigh themselves frequently, eat only small amounts, and only eat certain foods. Some will exercise excessively, force themselves to vomit, or use laxatives to produce weight loss.
Maybe Public Health is just anorexia nervosa institutionalised? But the anorexics in Public Health are not obsessed with their own weight: they’re obsessed with the weight of everybody else.