Miracle drugs and the myth of healthy junk food

Just eat real food so you don't have to fall into these traps

March 20, 2021

Dr. Robert Lustig is one of the people whose websites I follow. Lustig is a doctor who has spent most of his professional life studying the causes and treatments of chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. One simple way to sum up all of his findings would be the statement, "processed foods are killing us." Lustig has spent a lot of time and energy trying to get people to stop eating the processed foods and sugary drinks that have become a part of so many peoples' regular diet. He is of course right about this and we should all eliminate these things from our lives. (An easy rule of thumb being if it comes in a box don't eat it).

However, unlike the people involved in the Weston A Price Foundation Lustig has succumbed to the fact that most people will never actually listen and will continue to slowly kill themselves by eating garbage. Processed foods are cheap, convenient, backed by multi-billion dollar corporations and governments, and most importantly addictive. Lustig recently wrote that he has teamed up with a group of scientists to develop some sort of drug that would be able to "reduce the harm of processed food" this drug would work to break down the harmful substances present in these foods so that they would be less taxing on the liver.

Such a drug is quite interesting, but like almost any drug it is completely unnecessary for people who eat a healthy diet and live a healthy life. But these things are of course growing increasingly uncommon these days so such a drug would probably be helpful if it actually worked and was free of harmful side-effects. Of course Lustig doesn't want there to be any doubt that it couldn't work or could have side-effects, this is why he never uses the word "drug" when announcing this thing, and sure, Lustig is a doctor so he probably could come up with some medical jargon to explain why his "proprietary fiber" isn't a drug, but as far as I'm concerned any substance developed in a lab is a drug. There are important psychological reasons why Lustig doesn't use the word drug, maybe one day I'll write about the importance of word choice when trying to persuade people so that you'll be better equipped to recognize when you are being tricked.

Follow the money

Probably one of the most interesting thing about Lustig's announcement was him mentioning PepsiCo's possible interest in this product. From what I can tell it is unclear whether or not Pepsi has actually invested any money into this new drug but I would not be surprised if they did. I can't think of one product PepsiCo sells that is remotely healthy for anyone, their primary products are soda and chips. If people saw that PepsiCo the soda company was investing in something to help people be more healthy they'd feel less guilty while filling their Big-Gulp with Pepsi at Seven-Eleven.

This would also be the perfect drug for PepsiCo and any other junk food manufacturer. It is a drug that would essentially enable people to eat more of their garbage, and it wouldn't even have to work, they'd spend millions of dollars on a media campaign to convince you it did, "Take this miracle pill and drink all the Pepsi you want" they'll say, it would be unpopular to be skeptical of it even the skepticism is deserved.

Many companies use the illusion of health to try to get you to buy their products. Consider Subway, Subway's slogan is "eat fresh" despite their lack of fresh food. Up until people found out he was a deplorable person, their company spokesman was a guy who lost like 300lbs supposedly by eating at Subway. They present themselves as the healthy option, but remember this is the same restaurant that will occasionally sell a Frito sandwich. This company, like most others, is not at all interested in your actual well being.

Super Size Me was a rather influential 2004 documentary which highlighted how incredibly unhealthy fast food is, it is worth watching and is free on YouTube, but the lesser known 2019 follow up, Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken, is more insightful. The impact of the original Super Size Me caused people to realize how bad fast food really was, in response fast food chains began to offer products that were "healthier". These options were of course well intentioned, but over time they failed, nobody actually bought these healthier meals. When was the last time you saw a grilled chicken sandwich at a restaurant?

In Super Size Me 2, Morgan Spurlock decides to open a fast food place that served healthy food, specifically a chicken sandwich place. Throughout the film he highlights all the things wrong with the poultry industry and he highlights a few of the tricks that the fast food industry uses to trick you into believing their food is good for you. The thing he didn't clearly tell us was that he had to use the same tricks to convince his eventual customers that his chicken sandwich was any healthier than those of other places. His signature "crispy grilled chicken sandwich" is really no different than any other fried chicken sandwich, (again the importance of word choice in persuasion) the chicken is just placed in a panini press to be flattened and had black grill lines painted on it to make it look like grilled chicken so you think it is healthier than it really is.

I don't actually know if Spurlock's restaurant still exists, it probably doesn't since his goal was not really to open a fast food chain but rather to open our eyes. Opening our eyes is what we should all be doing. Eat healthy, don't fall for lying advertisements, and don't take some miracle drug that lets you eat garbage, just stop eating garbage.