Sugar coated truths
Dr. Mark Harmon points us to a number of studies concerning the role of sugars in our public health arena and stunning changes over the last fifty years:
This study of more than 40,000 people, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, accounted for all other potential risk factors including total calories, overall diet quality, smoking, cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol.
U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide no limit for added sugar, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still lists sugar as a “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) substance. That classification lets the food industry add unlimited amounts of sugar to our food. At least the American Heart Association recommends that our daily diet contain no more than 5 percent to 7.5 percent added sugar.
Here’s the simple fact: Sugar calories are worse than other calories. All calories are not created equal. A recent study of more than 175 countries found that increasing overall calories didn’t increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, but increasing sugar calories did — dramatically.
And fats, including saturated fats, have been unfairly blamed. With the exception of trans fats, fats are actually protective. This includes omega-3 fats, nuts and olive oil, which was proven to reduce heart attack risk by more than 30 percent in a recent large randomized controlled study.
Recent and mounting scientific evidence clearly proves that sugar — and flour, which raises blood sugar even more than table sugar — is biologically addictive. In fact, it’s as much as eight times more addictive than cocaine.
All you have to do is go to any grade school and look at all the little fat children to see the harm that sugar is doing.l
Actually go back and look at the sugar colonies in the Caribbean in the 1600 and 1700s. They were the richest places on earth (far richer than the UK). Sugar has been addicting since at least that time, first for the rich, and then later moving down the economic ladder as the relative price of sugar went down. In fact sugar was in such demand that slaves imported to the sugar islands (Barbados and Jamaica on the English side) where worked so hard as to die in a couple of years when a new cache of slaves would arrive by boat. In fact a part of the cause of wars thru the seven years war was over who would control the sugar islands.
Interestingly Napolean had in mind to supply Haiti (which was to be his sugar source) from the area that became the Louisiana purchase. But when the tropical climate proved to make recapture of Haiti impossible due to the death rate of European soldiers he then sold the Louisiana Purchase to the US.
The article sounds a bit like a schtick and like the new thing of the moment. Want to see something else before believing. The abstract of the referenced article is interesting though. And of course I’m not saying that all the added sugar is good. But — addictive? c’mon.
A good and long article in the NYT describes in regular terms the direction research is going and suggesting as cause and effect…Dr. Lustig uses the term ‘toxic’ instead of addictive:
“What has changed since then, other than Americans getting fatter and more diabetic? It wasn’t so much that researchers learned anything particularly new about the effects of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in the human body. Rather the context of the science changed: physicians and medical authorities came to accept the idea that a condition known as metabolic syndrome is a major, if not the major, risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimate that some 75 million Americans have metabolic syndrome. For those who have heart attacks, metabolic syndrome will very likely be the reason.”
Current interventions are similar to this:
“By this logic, sugar-sweetened beverages (or H.F.C.S.-sweetened beverages, as the Sugar Association prefers they are called) are bad for us not because there’s anything particularly toxic about the sugar they contain but just because people consume too many of them.
Those organizations that now advise us to cut down on our sugar consumption — the Department of Agriculture, for instance, in its recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or the American Heart Association in guidelines released in September 2009 (of which Lustig was a co-author) — do so for this reason. Refined sugar and H.F.C.S. don’t come with any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, and so they either displace other more nutritious elements of our diet or are eaten over and above what we need to sustain our weight, and this is why we get fatter.
Whether the empty-calories argument is true, it’s certainly convenient. It allows everyone to assign blame for obesity and, by extension, diabetes — two conditions so intimately linked that some authorities have taken to calling them “diabesity” — to overeating of all foods, or underexercising, because a calorie is a calorie. “This isn’t about demonizing any industry,” as Michelle Obama said about her Let’s Move program to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Instead it’s about getting us — or our children — to move more and eat less, reduce our portion sizes, cut back on snacks.”