Icelandic researchers have isolated a gene that determines whether we’ll be fat or thin. And a cheap sweetener used in almost everything we eat may play a major role in the obesity epidemic in America.

“Obesity and thinness are two sides of the same coin,” says Kari Stefansson, of deCODE, who helped isolate the gene that determines what shapes our bodies will be. “This is an important step toward developing new drugs that can treat obesity, perhaps by utilizing the body’s own mechanisms for promoting and maintaining thinness.”

If you’ve got the fat version of the gene (and most Americans do), you have to watch what you eat. But what can you do when manmade, fat-producing substances are hiding in almost every food we eat?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is in almost every processed food, but it doesn’t exist in nature. It’s made from corn, which is extremely cheap to grow, and that’s why it has replaced sugar in almost all the foods we buy. Hydrolyzed corn starch contains a high level of fructose (which occurs naturally in fruits and honey) that is 75% sweeter than the sucrose in sugar. U.S. food manufacturers began using HFCS in the early 1970s to save money. Thirty years later, much of the country is dangerously overweight, including our kids. USDA figures show a 250% increase in HFCS consumption in the past 15 years.

Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies that helps to metabolize our foods. People with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin and tend to become obese. Fructose, unlike sucrose, does not release or stimulate insulin. It also stimulates production of the hormone leptin which has been linked to fat storage and it increases our trygliceride levels. Tryglicerides make our cells resistant to insulin, meaning we burn less fat and store more of it on our bodies.

HFCS are found in almost all non-diet sodas and are also in fruit juices, candies, baked goods, yogurts, soups, ketchup, breakfast cereals, soups and pasta sauces, among other food items. Even if we drink diet sodas and eat mainly fresh foods, it’s impossible to avoid HFCS completely.

This generation grew up hearing American Heart Association messages telling them that butter is bad, but margarine is good for you. Now the government admits that margarine causes heart disease and leads to type 2 diabetes. The new word for margarine is “trans-fats,” but it means the same thing. Again, a cheap food substitute manufactured by big business and put into almost everything we eat can be linked to the obesity epidemic.

Whether you’re thin or fat, you can still get abducted?the visitors don’t discriminate.

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