Sugar Power? Sony Makes a Battery Fueled By the Sweet Stuff

Note from Connie: We’ve told you before about the fact that sugar-powered batteries are being developed, but now it sounds like it’s actually going to go on the market sometime in the near future.

My research assistant Jennifer Moore found an interesting item on the National Confectioners Association’s website, which reported that the Japanese entertainment conglomerate Sony has created a prototype of a sugar-fueled battery that can power a music player and two speakers. She tells you about it.

To make the "bio battery" work, you’d pour a sugar solution into it, where enzymes break down the sugar and generate electricity.

Sony says it’s an environmentally friendly battery, too, since it gets its power from a natural substance grown all over the world. But it’s not available for sale yet, and as far as we know, Sony hasn’t announced the date.

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

NBC Universal Boosts Junk Food Ad Ban During Kids’ TV

Note from Connie: I’m on vacation this week so, thanks to Karen, she’ll tell you about this story from TV Week. 

NBC Universal Television Group recently announced that it will expand the junk food advertising ban it currently maintains for its Qubo block of children’s informational programming to include similar programming on the 26 local NBC and Telemundo television stations it owns and operates.

This is all supposed to take effect June 1, 2008.

TV Week speculates the move will cause other networks to follow suit.

Should be interesting to see how this develops.

Karen James for the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Sugar: The High Cost Many Pay So You Can Consume the Sweet Stuff

PriceofsugaraNote from Connie: Thanks to a new documentary, "The Price of Sugar," Americans will now have a chance to get the real scoop about their beloved, but destructive sweetener.

This film gives people a shocking, horrifying, inside look at the many hardships workers endure just so the sweet white powder makes it to our supermarket shelves. For a sneak preview, watch the trailer now. SUGAR SHOCK! Blog researcher/writer Jennifer tells us about this eye-opening film, which I’m hoping to catch very soon.

People already have a chance to learn about sugar’s many health dangers by reading Connie and Dr. Sinatra’s book, SUGAR SHOCK!

Now Americans need to learn the sour truth about sugar-growing and gathering, because if they did, I believe that they’d be a lot less likely to buy this sweetener.

Now, thanks to the new documentary "The Price of Sugar" — which has been reviewed by New York Times and a number of other publications — people are discovering the harrowing conditions workers endure just to gather sugar cane.

The film — which is directed by filmmaker Bill Haney and narrated by Oscar-winning acting legend Paul Newman — teaches us, for example, that Haitian workers are basically forced into indentured servitude in the sugar cane fields in neighboring Dominican Republic.

These Haitian workers are snatched from their homes, herded into barracks and forced to do the back-breaking work of harvesting sugar cane 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for less than $1 a day.


Children’s Obesity: Video Games & TV Linked to Weight Gain

Note from Connie: Parents, watch out for those potentially problematic video games and TVs. Sure enough, sitting around on the couch watching the tube and pressing levers — and snacking at the same time — can really pack on the pounds. Check out Karen’s post about this.

My husband and I have often joked that if we ever have children, we’ll make them ride a stationary bike that powers the television if they expect to watch it.

Now I’m starting to think it’s really not such a bad idea.

In fact, it wouldn’t do us any harm either.

A fascinating finding in the F as in Fat 2007 report from the Trust for America’s Health (we told you about it in a previous post) again links video games and television to child and young adult obesity.

Thanks to the technology website for bringing it to our attention.

Karen James for the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Britney Spears Accused of Giving Her Babies Soda and Other Sugary Foods, Story Says

Note from Connie: Please note that the following item about Britney Spears is not confirmed at all. In all fairness to the pop star, this is all hearsay. We’re only posting what we read about elsewhere — and that source cited unnamed sources, so we simply have no way of knowing if there’s any truth to it. Bear that in mind as you read this juicy, SUGAR SHOCKING! tidbit about Britney Spears that Jennifer Moore brings us.

Unnamed sources tell US Weekly, the weekly celebrity gossip magazine, that pop star Britney Spears gives her 22- and 11-month old sons soda in their baby bottles, according to a story in the New York Post.

The US Weekly story claims that 22-month-old Sean’s teeth have gotten so bad from all the sugar he ingests that Britney asked a dentist to bleach his teeth. The article also reports that Britney gave Sean ice cream at night, to help him sleep.

Obviously, it’s tough to vouch for the veracity of the sources for this news since they’re anonymous.  But my goodness, I really hope these things aren’t true.

It’s bad to give any kid enough soda to ruin his teeth, let alone a baby that hasn’t even reached two years old. Actually, it’s not wise to give a kid of any age soda at all for many reasons, including its potential contribution to obesity and the risks that come with that, like heart disease and diabetes.

And ice cream to put a child to sleep?  If Britney does this, she needs to take a peek at Chapter 17 of Connie’s book SUGAR SHOCK!, "For Parents: Help Your Young Sugar Brats End Their Fits of Fury."


Soda Can Pack on the Pounds: A Morbidly Obese Guest on “The Dr. Phil Show” Learns The Truth About Her Addiction to Soft Drinks

TV talk show host and psychologist Phil McGraw (a.k.a. "Dr. Phil") — author of The Ultimate Weight Solution — often describes his work as giving people wake up calls about their lives and behaviors.

He delivered a real-eye opener on a recent episode of "The Dr. Phil Show", called "Overweight and Forgotten."

His first guest was a morbidly obese woman named Lorna, who weighs an astounding 650 to 700 pounds.  Needless to say, Lorna is an invalid because of her weight, and sadly, she depends on an allegedly abusive boyfriend named Blair to take care of her.

So how on earth did Lorna come to be so heavy?

On the "The Dr. Phil Show," she claimed she doesn’t eat much — coffee and bagel with cheese or Cheez Wiz for lunch, a steak, a potato, and some vegetables for dinner, and no lunch most of the time. Dr. Phil didn’t quite believe that — and neither do I.

However, boyfriend Blair mentioned that Lorna consumes as much as three liters of soda every day!

Despite her denial about the rest of her diet, Lorna admitted to ingesting that all those sugary drinks on a daily basis. With some prodding, she recognized that her soda jones is a significant contributor to her obesity.

I felt greatly saddened by Lorna’s predicament. I simply can’t imagine weighing 650 to 700 pounds — it’s such a massive amount of weight that it probably seems an exceedingly daunting task to do anything about it. But her life is literally at risk if she doesn’t do something — and soon.

Hurrah for Dr. Phil for getting right to the heart of the matter.

He displayed a graphic that revealed this startling information: If Lorna did nothing else but drop the sugary soda, she’d lose 125 pounds in one year.

Indeed, according to his calculations, she ingests 1,200 calories per day in soda alone (or nearly half a million calories a year!

“If you add to that the proper medical care, the proper exercise — and there is very much that you can do, even in the condition that you are now — then you can begin to have an impact on all of these things," Dr. Phil told Lorna. "You know, I’m an incurable optimist, and I don’t see this as a hopeless situation.”

Granted, losing 125 pounds in one year by dropping soda would still leave Lorna dangerously obese. But she has to start somewhere, and if she could lose that much just by cutting out soft drinks, imagine what she could do if she made other lifestyle changes, too.

Thanks to Dr. Phil for showing his viewers just how much these sweet drinks can pack on pounds. I hope Lorna heeds his advice — as well as others similarly hooked on soft drinks.

From Jennifer Moore for the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Bill Clinton and Rachael Ray Tag Team Childhood Obesity

Former President Bill Clinton and talk show host Rachael Ray are teaming up to fight the childhood obesity crisis, according to an article in the New York Times by reporter Kim Severson.

For her part, Ray just launched Yum-O, a nonprofit organization that "educates kids and their parents about cooking, enabling them to explore the joys of food while making meals that are easy, healthy, affordable and delicious," according to the group’s website.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the anti-childhood obesity initiative Clinton’s foundation created with the American Heart Association, will be one of Ray’s partners in this new venture.

Clinton’s organization, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, works with schools nationwide to improve their menus and to implement other health-giving programs. Ray will give items from her line of cookware to schools on the forefront of improving nutrition, and may even visit some of those schools as well. Together, Ray and Clinton’s alliance will also promote Nickelodeon’s "Go Healthy Challenge," which is part of the channel’s "Let’s Just Play" series.

The two announced their plans on a recent episode of the popular "The Rachael Ray Show," which reaches 4 million viewers, according to Severson’s story.

Clinton’s zeal on this issue was partly inspired by his 2004 quadruple bypass, which, as he says in this clip of his appearance on Ray’s show, was necessitated by years of indulging in fast food, fried foods and other artery-clogging stuff.

Both Clinton and Ray will bring an amazing amount of star power to this worthy endeavor. In fact, Clinton has interesting weight tales himself — he was overweight as a child, he tells Rachel Ray, noting that when he was 13, he was 5’8" and weighed 185 pounds.

Of the scary possibility that today’s generation of kids may actually face shorter life expectancies than their parents, Clinton declared "it will be immoral if we let that happen," according to the New York Times story. I couldn’t agree more!

His appearance on "The Rachael Ray Show," isn’t the only time that Clinton’s been sounding the alarms about childhood obesity lately.

Now, a cynic might ask why Clinton didn’t do more about the issue of childhood obesity when he was president — and that’s certainly a valid one. And not every recipe on Ray’s Yum-O website is a perfect example of healthy food, in my opinion (like her Chocolate Yogurt Parfait).

But for me, raising a 4-year-old in this junk-food saturated world, it’s never too late for our leaders and celebrities to take action, and I don’t need perfection. I applaud Clinton and Ray for trying to address the very serious issue of childhood obesity, and I hope that their popularity and influence will inspire others to take action, too.

From Jennifer Moore

See Snazzy, Revised Book Cover for SUGAR SHOCK!

I’m pleased to show you the final cover design for my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK! It now features the wonderful endorsement that bestselling author Dr. Mehmet Oz (YOU: The Owner’s Manual) was kind enough to give.

As I’ve mentioned previously, after five years of researching, writing and editing my book, it will finally see the light of day in a few months! Yeah!

Tadum… Drum roll… After 5 long years, Berkley Books will release it Jan. 2007.

What do you think of the book cover design? The cover’s pretty classy, isn’t it? (I hope you agree! Wasn’t the Berkley designer pretty creative? I thought she did a stupendous job. Cover350px

Food Film Opens

"The Future of Food," a documentary written and directed by Deborah Koons Garcia (the widow of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia), opens in Manhattan today.

The film — which The New York Times describes as a "sober, far-reaching polemic against genetically modified foods" — deals with growing concerns over how our crops are produced and how science is altering the foods we eat.

The Times’s Stephen Holden writes that the overall attitude of filmmaker Garcia "might be summed up with the scolding slogan `It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.’"

Sounds like an intriguing film. Plan to check it out soon.

More “Chocolate Factory” Comments

In my earlier review of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," I promised to offer further thoughts and insights about the movie.

While the film was, indeed, visually striking and entertaining, it also contained some sarcastic, sinister undertones.

For example, Willy Wonka’s Johnny Depp is a curious mix. He’s unbalanced, unstable and almost Michael Jackson-ish on the one hand and yet completely uncaring and insensitive when child after child falls to a frightening fate.

Even so, Depp’s character has a sweet underside, too. His development has been stalled, in large part, because his famous dentist dad wasn’t doting enough.

But, come on, his father’s big sin was throwing out his child’s Halloween candy and not being supportive of his love for chocolate? (Gimme a break! That’s rather sad to equate chocolate deprivation with withholding love.)