Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sugar (and Central Planning): The Bitter Truth

A friend of mine who is an expert in endocrinology sent me this youtube link to a fascinating lecture by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, in which he details his hypothesis concerning the causes of the explosion in child obesity, adult obesity and metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease).

First of all, if you are concerned about your own health, this is a must see and may change the way you think about food. Second, although it is not explicitly characterized as such in the lecture, it provides yet another case study in the horrors of central planning (e.g., see my post Golf Clap for Dear Leader).

The biochemistry of metabolism speaks for itself and much has been learned over the past 30 years. The more subtle component in this story concerns the insidious fingerprint of the central planner. The federal government is in a position to directly affect the health of the entire nation through several mechanisms. First, agricultural subsidies cause prices of certain foods to be more or less than otherwise and provide massive incentives to farmers and the food industry to utilize or substitute certain types of "favored" foods (like corn for example). Second, the FDA directly regulates the production and composition of food and drugs and through its official propaganda, which manifests in pronouncements like the RDA, reaches into every sphere of the public consciousness, e.g., adverstisements, industry incentives (or threats), and direct educational efforts in the public school system.

4 comments:

Kevin said...

Thanks for the nice find. Only other weird thing he left out is how government subsidy programs lock farmers into systems that result in very low corn prices compared to other alternatives.

Doug Reich said...

Thanks Kevin. To be fair to him, the talk was really biology focused so the economics were fuzzy. That's why I mentioned it in the post.

However, this is a great example of how "businessmen" seem to take the blame for everything. In other words, public policy which manifests through government subsidies, mandates, and regulations becomes adopted by industry and then they usually take the blame or "the quest for profits" takes the blame. The real culprit is the central planner mentality which seeks to control individuals through these sweeping government policies.

At any given time, the marketplace (the sum total of all market participants) reflects the desires and demands of individuals based on experience or preference. These attempts by central planners which fancy themselves as all-knowing philosopher kings to subvert that process is futile and destructive as we have observed time and again in all command and control economies.

Harold said...

You might find this interesting.

Doug Reich said...

Harold,

Thanks, I will post that soon as counterpoint.