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Fruit juice is not healthy. Taxing it will slash American obesity.
100 percent fruit juice is still 100 percent sugar.
- Research at the University of Waterloo claims that taxing fruit juice results in healthier purchasing habits.
- Participants that were taxed "produced greater reductions in sugars and calories than those that did not."
- Experts say that stripping fruit of its fiber for juice is a dubious nutritional practice.
If people think taxing soda is a bad idea, wait until they hear about the juice man coming for their cash.
Taxing soda is not a bad idea, however. As one study shows, consumption of sugary drinks dropped 52 percent among low-income Berkeley residents after a tax was implemented. Short-term gratification—"Keep your hands off the price of my cola!"—is giving way to long-term public health.
Advocates of sugar taxation argue that raising prices is an effective tool for fighting obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and other "diseases of affluence." A new study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, verifies that claim. Labelling 100 percent fruit juice is another step in curbing our appetite for sugar.
Over 3,500 Canadians took part in the study last spring. Participants engaged in an experimental marketplace, with 20 beverages and 20 snack foods for sale. The test conditions include five front-of-package (FOP) nutritional labelling systems and eight tax conditions.
The FOP labels:
- No label
- "High in" warning
- Multiple traffic light
- Health star rating
- Nutrition grade
The tax conditions:
- No tax
- 20 percent tax on sugary drinks/sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)/high-sugar foods (HSFs)
- Tiered tax on sugary drinks/SSBs/HSFs
Each participant had to choose one item at the end of their browsing to purchase.
As can be expected, when sugar was taxed in any capacity, fewer products sold. One-hundred percent fruit juice drinks that were taxed "produced greater reductions in sugars and calories than those that did not." This is important, as fruit juice is often marketed as a healthy beverage, even though there's little difference between it and soda.
3 Misconceptions About Juice Cleanses
Stroll down the aisle at Whole Foods to find plenty of $10 juice options. Visit any holistic blog to learn about the benefits of juice cleanses. Yet it's all a ruse, false advertising at its worst. First off, you can't cleanse your body by juicing. As Exeter University emeritus professor, Edzard Ernst, says:
"The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak. There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better."
That hasn't stopped marketers from capitalizing. FDA guidelines suggest no more than 10 percent of caloric intake to come from added sugars—that's 50 total grams of sugar per day (on a 2,000 calorie diet). The FDA is often somewhat lax compared to other agencies. The American Heart Association pegs that number at 36 grams for men and 24 grams for women, adding that keeping your sugar limit below that threshold might confer more health benefits. The World Health Organization also suggests 10 percent.
Enter health-industry capitalism. Consider Blueprint's "Drink Pretty Cleanse," which recommends six bottles of juice per day for six days at a cost of $375. Total caloric intake from sugar per day: 171 grams. Besides the fat provided from cashews in one of the drinks, you're almost exclusively drinking sugar for your entire daily nutritional intake.
The argument often made by such companies is that these calories are not from "added sugars." In fact, FDA guidelines are forcing manufacturers to include "added sugars" on labels beginning in 2020. A number of companies have already begun using this statistic. A problem remains: You still don't want the bulk of your calories coming from sugar, whether it's derived from whole pineapple or molasses. If consumers' eyes only find "added sugars," they're missing an essential piece of the story.
Photo by Dukas/UIG via Getty Images
This is not to victimize fruit, which is healthy—as a desert. The most beneficial part of fruit, fiber, is discarded in fruit juice. Fiber slows the intake of sugar into your bloodstream. If a piece of fruit contains 25 grams of sugar, absorption occurs over several hours; your kidneys have time to process the intake. By contrast, drinking a bottle of juice is basically mainlining sugar.
Another piece of this troublesome puzzle is the many disguises food manufacturers use to sell product. Do we need to be told that our hummus is gluten-free? Or cheese? Likely not, but that hasn't stopped crafty marketers from bucking a trend.
With companies that rely on sugar for sales, marketing efforts become more insidious. Coca Cola promoting "real cane sugar" during the high-fructose corn syrup hysteria is one example. Rachel Acton, a doctoral student in the School of Public Health & Health Systems at the University of Waterloo (and lead author of the study on fruit juice), says consumer education has to be part of the process, as most consumers don't bother to read past the hype.
"Many people don't realize that fruit juice can have just as much sugar, or more, as regular pop, and these types of drinks aren't always included in a tax when evidence shows that maybe they should be."
There is precedent. On January 1, 2017, Philadelphia began enforcing a 1.5-cent per ounce soda tax. The result: a 38 percent reduction of sugary drink sales. In total, seven major U.S. cities and almost 40 countries now have soda taxes.
A new analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research says soda taxes are beneficial to societies that enforce them. In a joint statement in March, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association endorsed taxing sugary drinks.
Fruit juice, whatever the percentage, is a sugary drink. The science on the matter is clear even if the marketing is not. There are too many obesity-related public health crises occurring to ignore such basic, common-sense evidence.
- To live longer, limit your fruit juice - Big Think ›
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.
- Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
- Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
- In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.