CARVILLE: Fat activism and the sugar swindle |

CARVILLE: Fat activism and the sugar swindle

Wherever you are today, stop for a moment and look at the people around you — what do you see?

Well, you will find that two out of three adults are overweight or obese.


You hear these statistics all the time, so what’s new you ask?

As people have become significantly heavier, we are venturing into ‘a new normal.’ Peer pressure to lose weight has lessened. Obesity is finding deadly acceptance.

There is even a society called the “National Association to Aid Fat Americans” (NAAFA) which advocate fatness. A group called “The Fat Underground” has a motto ‘a diet is a cure that doesn’t work, for a disease that doesn’t exist.”


Many readers of this column were born in the late 1930s, 40s or early 50s. What do you remember about obesity in elementary school? Think hard. Maybe, one kid of out of 30 was really-heavy or fat. In 1962 the obesity rate for adults was 23 percent. Today it is 63.8 percent.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that 63 percent of teenage girls were overweight by age 11. Forecasts are that 75 percent of the American population will be overweight or obese by 2020.


The list is long: Inactivity, service jobs instead of farming and manufacturing, excessive fat and salt in processed food and … SUGAR.

The American Heart Organization recommends less than 6-8 teaspoons per day. That is less than one soda. Today, the average American eats 150–170 pounds per year.


We eat so much sugar because it is cheap and invisible.

Invisible because it is in so many foods and has so many names that don’t say ‘sugar.’ Do you like non-fat foods? Probably because the ‘no-fat’ is replaced by ‘more sugar.’

Sugar is cheap because the American Sugar Coalition lobby makes sure that its members get huge subsidies and supply is abundant. For example, in 2013 the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $107 million buying sugar to subsidize processors… After those same processors defaulted on $172 million on ‘non-recourse’ loans from the government. In certain market conditions, processors borrow money from the government using their sugar inventories as collateral for a guaranteed loan rate of 22.9 cents per pound of sugar (by the way, a ‘non-recourse’ loan is one where you can default with no consequence).


For the past 45 years, the sugar support program has been so extensive that subsidies have been at least two times the world price. So why cut back production? The high-fructose corn syrup industry did not exist prior to 1970. This industry now accounts for about half of all sugar consumption in the United States. So, as tax payers we are subsidizing this industry to ensure that sugar is always abundant and available.


We are the same genetic entities that our slender, great-grand parents were… we are just a lot heavier. We should be just as slender as they were, but there are invisible cards are stacked against us.

The solution is not complex. We don’t need specialized micro-nutrition, macro-biotics, celebrity diets or seven different vitamin bottles on the bedroom dresser to lose weight. We just need some common ‘eating-sense’ and exercise.

In my next two columns, I will explain how you can lose weight ‘without’ going on a starvation diet. In the column after that, I will explain which exercises will be most efficient at burning calories per time expended.

To those of us who are overweight/obese and at a greater risk of premature death, I offer Yogi Berra’s advice: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to answer your questions. He can be contacted at

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