George Graham

The War on Junk Food

I was a sugar junkie as a child so I can sympathize with the millions of American kids who are addicted to sweets. And with the beleaguered First Lady, who must be stunned by the ferocious response to her well intended efforts to make school lunches less toxic.

Sugar is a drug that can be as addictive as crack cocaine.  Eat one candy and you crave another… and another… and another.

I know. I am a diabetic.

When I was a toddler, my dad used to leave me at Mr. Pine’s grocery in Port Antonio (Jamaica) while he went on his rounds as an agricultural instructor. Mr. Pine, who was blind, had a daughter named Beryl who was very fond of me. She would sit me on the counter while she tended the store.

I was a baby with a deep voice, and that greatly amused the customers,. They asked me to sing songs like “Old Man River” for them and rewarded me with paradise plums.

I developed an addiction to sugar, which intensified as I grew older. At age 6, I was diagnosed with “sugar in the blood.”

Today, I must inject myself four times a day – twice in the morning and twice at night (I take long-lasting and fast-acting insulin separately). My abdomen looks like a pin cushion.

To folks like me, Michelle Obama is more than justified in launching a fitness campaign for Americans (photo above). Obesity is a national epidemic – especially among children. And her effort to make school lunches healthier seems not just reasonable but extremely laudable.

But that’s not how the junk food industry sees it. They’ve launched a savage campaign against the First Lady, and their slurs are being echoed by their paid political lackeys and talk-show attack dogs. The assault has reached such a pitch that Mrs. Obama was obliged to respond in a New York Times op-ed piece recently.

Mrs. Obama is up against a massive political force. The junk food industry spends millions on lobbying and on bogus “science” to protect their turf.

Sadly, many Americans seem to be buying their propaganda about “nanny government” and parents’ right to decide what their kids eat. To hear them tell it, these purveyors of obesity and disease are champions of the American Way.

But to me, they are no less loathsome than the drug peddlers who hover around schoolyards.

Click for the battle against the First Lady.

Click for the First Lady’s article.

Click for more on the sugar lobby.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for