OPINION: How neo-liberalism caused diabetes epidemic globally

Thursday November 8 2018



Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

There has been a dramatic worldwide increase in the incidence of diabetes – also referred as a ‘metabolic syndrome.’ Experts point an accusing finger at changes in lifestyle. But the cause of this devastating epidemic is arguably greed for wealth! This article explains the root cause of the pandemic.

Neoliberalism emphasises the value of free market competition. It is often characterised in terms of its belief in sustained economic growth as the means to achieve human progress; its confidence in free markets as the most efficient resources allocation; its emphasis on minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs, and its commitment to free trade and capital flows.

For the purpose of this article I relate neoliberalism to capitalism, globalism and elite rule. Under the neo-liberal ideology some 50 years ago, the sugar industry secretly paid scientists to blame cholesterol as the cause of heart diseases.

In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat. The sugar industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) wanted to refute concerns about sugar’s possible role in heart diseases. SRF then sponsored research by Harvard University scientists, whose results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding.

The industry did a very smart thing to influence the scientific debate by publishing review papers in a prominent journal. By doing so, the papers tend to shape the overall scientific discussion.

Another example of meddling with food research was exposed in 2015, after the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola’s cosy relationships with sponsored researchers who were conducting studies aimed at minimising the effects of sugary drinks on obesity. Even more recently, the Associated Press (AP) obtained emails showing how a candy trade association funded and influenced studies to show that children who eat sweets have ‘healthier body weight’ than those who do not! More recently, the British Royal Pharmaceutical Society confirmed the cholesterol theory of heart disease as ‘dead.’ This is about the famous cholesterol-lowering medicines, the statins.

Pointing out that the lifetime of heart attack survivors participating in pharma-sponsored statin trials is extended by just four (4) days while using statins, the authors say there is an “ethical and moral imperative” for the potential harm of these drugs to be discussed. Significantly, however, they (wrongly) concluded that the real culprit behind cardiovascular disease is insulin resistance.

In other words: while they are 100-per cent correct that the cholesterol dogma is scientifically unfounded, they have failed to correctly identify the root-cause of cardiovascular disease! The root-cause still remains an enigma.

Promoting real food, regular exercise

Currently, the focus is on lipoprotein/vitamin-C deficiency hypothesis. But, meanwhile, this is what should be done.

Data indicate that patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease should focus on lifestyle interventions such as diet and regular exercise.

The billions of dollars spent on drugs research and development could instead be directed at encouraging ‘population-wide behavioral change.’

Rather than promoting messages about reducing calories intake that place blame on victims and simply exacerbate the cardiovascular disease pandemic, the authors argue that public health authorities should work primarily to support the consumption of ‘real food.’

The focus, in other words, should be on improving food quality rather than on simply reducing food quantity. All this intentional misinformation had one aim: maximising profits even if people’s health is gravely affected – and the outcome is death!

The neoliberalism ideology is only concerned with profits – and even more profits – by creating a diabetes pan-epidemic. Thus, my one question is: should we adopt the free market ideology wholesale, and without modifying it as per our values, traditions and ethos? Must we…?

Advertisement