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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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These alien-like creatures are virtually invisible in the deep sea.
- A team of marine biologists used nets to catch 16 species of deep-sea fish that have evolved the ability to be virtually invisible to prey and predators.
- "Ultra-black" skin seems to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps fish camouflage themselves in the deep sea, which is illuminated by bioluminescent organisms.
- There are likely more, and potentially much darker, ultra-black fish lurking deep in the ocean.
The Pacific blackdragon
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p>When researchers first saw the deep-sea species, it wasn't immediately obvious that their skin was ultra-black. Then, marine biologist Karen Osborn, a co-author on the new paper, noticed something strange about the photos she took of the fish.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can't see any detail," Osborn told <em><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">Wired</a></em>. "How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?"</p><p>After examining samples of fish skin under the microscope, the researchers discovered that the fish skin contains a layer of organelles called melanosomes, which contain melanin, the same pigment that gives color to human skin and hair. This layer of melanosomes absorbs most of the light that hits them.</p>
A crested bigscale
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what isn't absorbed side-scatters into the layer, and it's absorbed by the neighboring pigments that are all packed right up close to it," Osborn told <em>Wired</em>. "And so what they've done is create this super-efficient, very-little-material system where they can basically build a light trap with just the pigment particles and nothing else."</p><p>The result? Strange and terrifying deep-sea species, like the crested bigscale, fangtooth, and Pacific blackdragon, all of which appear in the deep sea as barely more than faint silhouettes.</p>
David Csepp, NMFS/AKFSC/ABL<p>But interestingly, this unique disappearing trick wasn't passed on to these species by a common ancestor. Rather, they each developed it independently. As such, the different species use their ultra-blackness for different purposes. For example, the threadfin dragonfish only has ultra-black skin during its adolescent years, when it's rather defenseless, as <em>Wired</em> <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">notes</a>.</p><p>Other fish—like the <a href="http://onebugaday.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-new-anglerfish-oneirodes-amaokai.html" target="_blank">oneirodes species</a>, which use bioluminescent lures to bait prey—probably evolved ultra-black skin to avoid reflecting the light their own bodies produce. Meanwhile, species like <em>C. acclinidens</em> only have ultra-black skin around their gut, possibly to hide light of bioluminescent fish they've eaten.</p><p>Given that these newly described species are just ones that this team found off the coast of California, there are likely many more, and possibly much darker, ultra-black fish swimming in the deep ocean. </p>
Using machine-learning technology, the genealogy company My Heritage enables users to animate static images of their relatives.
- Deep Nostalgia uses machine learning to animate static images.
- The AI can animate images by "looking" at a single facial image, and the animations include movements such as blinking, smiling and head tilting.
- As deepfake technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, some are concerned about how bad actors might abuse the technology to manipulate the pubic.
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But that's not to say the animations are perfect. As with most deep-fake technology, there's still an uncanny air to the images, with some of the facial movements appearing slightly unnatural. What's more, Deep Nostalgia is only able to create deepfakes of one person's face from the neck up, so you couldn't use it to animate group photos, or photos of people doing any sort of physical activity.</p>
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But for a free deep-fake service, Deep Nostalgia is pretty impressive, especially considering you can use it to create deepfakes of <em>any </em>face, human or not. </p>
How long should one wait until an idea like string theory, seductive as it may be, is deemed unrealistic?
- How far should we defend an idea in the face of contrarian evidence?
- Who decides when it's time to abandon an idea and deem it wrong?
- Science carries within it its seeds from ancient Greece, including certain prejudices of how reality should or shouldn't be.
Plato used the allegory of the cave to explain that what humans see and experience is not the true reality.
Credit: Gothika via Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0<p>When scientists and mathematicians use the term <em>Platonic worldview</em>, that's what they mean in general: The unbound capacity of reason to unlock the secrets of creation, one by one. Einstein, for one, was a believer, preaching the fundamental reasonableness of nature; no weird unexplainable stuff, like a god that plays dice—his tongue-in-cheek critique of the belief that the unpredictability of the quantum world was truly fundamental to nature and not just a shortcoming of our current understanding. Despite his strong belief in such underlying order, Einstein recognized the imperfection of human knowledge: "What I see of Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility." (Quoted by Dukas and Hoffmann in <em>Albert Einstein, The Human Side: Glimpses from His Archives</em> (1979), 39.)</p> <p>Einstein embodies the tension between these two clashing worldviews, a tension that is still very much with us today: On the one hand, the Platonic ideology that the fundamental stuff of reality is logical and understandable to the human mind, and, on the other, the acknowledgment that our reasoning has limitations, that our tools have limitations and thus that to reach some sort of final or complete understanding of the material world is nothing but an impossible, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K2JTGIA?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">semi-religious dream</a>.</p>