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diabetes

There's a lot of sugar in ketchup.

To say that Americans have a sweet tooth is an understatement. According to a study of 54 countries published by World Population Review, American sugar consumption is the highest in the world at 126 grams per day. That’s the equivalent of drinking three cans of Coca-Cola every day.

In comparison, the average person in China consumes just 7 grams of sugar daily.

Not surprisingly, this heavy sugar consumption has led to an obesity crisis. As of 2020, 42% of Americans were obese. The country’s obesity rate has increased by 26% since 2008.

The tricky thing about the American diet is that a lot of foods that don’t necessarily taste sweet to us are saturated with sugar.


A recent tweet by Josiah Hughes received over 5 million views because it showed the shocking amount of sugar in the average bottle of Heinz ketchup. The image shows an empty bottle of Heinz ketchup that is about a third full of sugar. The image seemed like an exaggeration because ketchup isn’t overly sweet. It has a tangy, savory, acidic and smooth flavor with a hint of spice.

But this photo makes a bottle of ketchup look more like a candy bar.

“The powerful visual shows how much sugar is in 400ml of Heinz Ketchup. No wonder I feel sick when I consume a whole bottle,” Hughes joked in the tweet.

The tweet’s popularity inspired Snopes, one of the internet’s most popular fact-checking sites, to investigate the claim. Is a bottle of Heinz ketchup roughly a third sugar?

To fact-check the claim, Snopes purchased two 14-ounce bottles of Heinz ketchup and referenced the nutrition information on the product label. The math was pretty simple. The average bottle of Heinz ketchup contains 391 grams of ketchup, of which 92 grams of it are sugar. That means that the ketchup is roughly 24% sugar. Snopes ranked the claim true: “A viral tweet offers a roughly accurate visual representation of the amount of sugar in a bottle of Heinz ketchup.”

“The vast majority of the product's sugar content comes from both high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, both of which are liquids,” the fact-check reads. A big reason why American foods are so saturated with high fructose corn syrup is that it is cheap because the government subsidizes it.

Many health complications can come with overconsuming high fructose corn syrup. A major problem is diabetes.

"Chronic overconsumption of high fructose corn syrup causes an increase in fat production and worsens insulin sensitivity," Jennifer Feda, Clinical Nutrition Manager at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, tells Hartford Hospital. "Even a small change like not drinking regular soda is beneficial. Limiting processed foods, in general, will not only help you limit intake of high fructose corn syrup, but also your intake of unhealthy fats, which is a bonus."

Although the image of the sugar-filled ketchup bottle is shocking, it’s a wake-up call to many Americans about the dangers posed by the products we consume every day. The more transparent that companies and watchdogs can be about what’s really in our food, the better chance we all have to make healthier choices.

Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."


Schieffer explained that she has been working for 17 years and that she and her husband both work full-time. She works third shift and goes to school during the day. "How are you guys making it?" she asked. "Am I the only one struggling?"

She's not the only one struggling, of course. The unaffordability of healthcare in the U.S. is a national crisis. While the Affordable Care Act helped millions access health insurance, there are still millions of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured. And medical bills can still be hard to cover, even if you have insurance.

Speaking from experience, out-of-pocket expenses after insurance can still cost thousands of dollars. Even just doing diagnostic tests, scans, and procedures to figure out what an issue is—not even getting into treating whatever it is yet—can be too steep after insurance pays their portion for many families to afford. Americans have to constantly weigh whether the risk of missing a serious health issue outweighs the debilitating cost of a test to rule it out.

Schieffer's video went viral and she received a beautiful outpouring of support and advice. Some commenters shared how she can get insulin in an affordable way, including going to the medicine manufacturer's website and getting their cost assistance forms. She explained in a comment and a follow-up video that it was actually the blood sugar monitor that was $1100 and not covered under their insurance, and people suggested the same cost assistance route.

Others just chimed in with words of solidarity, agreeing that our system is broken. More than a few suggested she share her Venmo account name in her profile so people could help crowdfund financial assistance for her son's medical care. If that alone isn't a sign that the system is broken, nothing is.

Schieffer is getting it all worked out with the helpful advice and generosity of strangers, and she shared a video from her son about how he's doing as he learns to manage his diabetes.

@slimkwow Please don't take this one down we didn't show any needles or “drug use". ##t1d ##kids ##thankyou
♬ original sound - Katie Schieffer

When stories like this go viral, it's a mixed bag. While it's inspiring to see people rally around a fellow human being with love and support, it's also infuriating to realize how dystopian it can be here in the "land of the free." The U.S. is supposed to be some kind of beacon of light to the world, but what kind of shithole country lets its citizens go bankrupt or die because they can't afford to go to the doctor or pay for their medications? Part of why our health outcomes are so abysmal compared to other developed nations is because people don't get the medical care they need because they can't afford it. That's just plain ridiculous.

If anyone wants to help this mama and kiddo out, here's where you can send donations. (Just be aware that someone has set up fake accounts with an extra "r" at the end, so be sure you only see one "r" in Schieffer.)

Venmo: @Katherine-Schieffer

PayPal:@KatherineSchieffer

No one should have to crowdfund to pay for healthcare, but here we are. Hopefully with a new administration coming in, we'll make more strides toward joining the rest of the developed world in ensuring that healthcare is truly affordable for all Americans.

Alan Levine / Flickr

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders led a group of Americans on a bus ride from Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario last month to call attention to one of America's biggest health issues: the out of control cost of insulin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 10% of Americans have diabetes and 7.4 million of them must take insulin to survive.


"Americans are paying $300 for insulin. In Canada they can purchase it for $30," Sanders said in a tweet. "We are going to end pharma's greed."

The increasing number of Americans going to Canada for cheaper insulin has caused alarm among some Canadians who fear there isn't enough of the drug to go around.

"There absolutely is some degree of risk," Barry Power, Director of Therapeutic Content with the Canadian Pharmacists Association, told The Huffington Post.

RELATED: Trump's plan to 'lower drug costs' is a bait-and-switch that leaves seniors paying more

"If you look at the disparity in the populations, a small percentage of Americans coming to Canada is a disproportionate increase for services and supplies that are earmarked for Canada," Power continued.

The price of insulin in America doubled between 2012 and 2016 when the average annual costs for users jumped from $2,864 to $5,705.

The major reason for the massive price discrepancy is because Canada has socialized medicine and its Patented Medicine Prices Review Board ensures the price of patented medicine sold in Canada is not excessive and is "comparable with prices in other countries."

The U.S. has a market-based system where pharmaceutical companies can manipulate patents to prevent cheaper, generic drugs from coming to market. They can also raise the price to whatever they want.

Medicare, the nation's largest buyer of prescription drugs, is actually barred from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies.

RELATED: John Oliver explains just how shady drug companies really are

"They are [raising prices] because they can," Jing Luo, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told Vox, "and it's scary because it happens in all kinds of different drugs and drug classes."

The effects of the rise of insulin costs means that one in four Americans who need the drug to survive are now skimping on their use of it because they don't have the money.

"It's an embarrassment for those of us who are Americans," Sanders said while exiting a pharmacy in Canada. "We love our Canadian neighbors and we thank them so much, but we should not have to come to Canada to get the medicine we need for our kids to stay alive, we can do that in America."

True
Cigna 2017

Mom and veteran Tamika Quinn thought she was untouchable in her 20s — until she had two strokes back-to-back.

The first occurred on the right side of her brain, initially paralyzing the left side of her body. The second hit her frontal lobe. As a result, Tamika spent three and a half weeks recovering in intensive care. While she did regain her motor functions, the experience was a huge wake-up call for her.

"And to think it could've been prevented," Tamika recounts in the video below.


Tamika Quinn. All images via Cigna.

Earlier in life, Tamika had been diagnosed with high blood pressure but had brushed it off as a relatively unimportant statistic; it ran in her family. But it wasn't just genetics. Her family had limited access to things like fresh produce. As a result, less healthy and more convenient meals often became the norm in her house.

After she recovered, Tamika started walking more and eating healthier, home-cooked meals.

She encouraged her two daughters, Sequoia and Kashra, to do the same — especially Kashra, who was diagnosed with high cholesterol as a child.

Sequoia and Kashra.

"The switch for us was not eating as much fast food and going on a lot of walks," Sequoia recounts in the video.

Today, Tamika's an advocate for the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure network and actively spreads the preventive health message.  

"Any health issue that can be prevented should be," she wrote for You're the Cure. "Since we know that nutrition plays such a key role in later health, it’s well worth our passionate focus now."

Tamika also shares her health strategies through GLAM Girl Enterprises, the company she started to empower young women to better themselves.

Treating your body with care often starts with knowing what to pay attention to — such as your health numbers.

Tamika and her daughters.

And we're not talking about waist and hip measurements. Your four health numbers — blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and blood sugar — can offer important insight into how your body's doing. They're your doctor's starting point to determine what, if anything, you need to do to get your body's health back on track.

Taking steps toward taking care of ourselves before health issues arrive could have a big impact — on each of us and the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "if everyone in the U.S. received recommended clinical preventive health care, we could save over 100,000 lives a year." That's pretty staggering.

As a result of what she went through, Tamika will never take her health for granted again.

She hopes her experience will inspire others to follow suit and prioritize preventive care. Because if they don't take care of their body, everything can come to a screeching halt.

"People will take their car to get an oil change or a tune up," Tamika explains below. "Your body is way more important than your car."

Watch Tamika's entire health journey here:

She was 27 and feeling invincible. Then she had a stroke.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, July 11, 2017