Sugar is the scourge, not fat, according to several, converging lines of evidence
An April 7, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “The sugar conspiracy.”
“In 1972,” the article notes, “a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?”
I found the story of what happened to the British scientist John Yudkin, as described in the April 7, 2016 Guardian article, of much interest. Equally of interest was the reference to a leading postwar American nutritionist, Ancel Keys, who denigrated and ridiculed Yudkin at every opportunity. Keys played a key role in the destruction of Yudkin’s career.
Ancel Keys was a cult-like, self-assured figure with a forceful personality – and a powerfully misleading scientist, as it has (or as it has appeared to have) turned out, these many years later.
The sugar wars
A January/February 2017 Atlantic article is entitled: “The Sugar Wars: Science can’t prove it and the industry denies it, but Gary Taubes is convinced that the sweet stuff kills.”
The article, which reviews a book entitled The Case Against Sugar (2016), covers the same ground as the above-noted Guardian article.
From a practical point of view, I’ve made some progress (less so, over the holidays but still, doing much better than before) in keeping my sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization:
World Health Organization recommends that no more than 5 percent of your caloric intake – that is, 25 grams – should come from sugar
At first I found it a challenge, to cut down on sugar, but having read the above-noted Guardian and Atlantic articles among others, the going is getting easier.
A corollary to the story is: Eat your fruits and vegetables:
Eat your vegetables; the research is persuasive
An Oct. 13, 2016 undark.org article is entitled: “In the Fight Against Obesity, the Real Enemy Is Oversimplification: Fat used to be Dietary Enemy No. 1. Today, it’s sugar. But reductions in the consumption of both have done little to curb obesity rates. Why?”
A Dec. 30, 2016 New York Times article is entitled: “How Much Sugar Can You Avoid Today? The typical American diet includes far too much added sugar. Can you stay under a healthy limit?”
A Jan. 12, 2017 CBC article is entitled: Added sugar often found in Canadian products marketed as ‘healthy,’ researchers find: Why ‘you really need to be a detective’ when reading food labels.”
A Jan. 16, 2017) CBC The Current podcast, entitled “Is sugar killing us? Author Gary Taubes makes his case,” provides a great overview of the distinction between evidence (that is, the facts of the matter, in this case related to the science related to nutrition) and the frame within which scientific facts are positioned.
A Feb. 10, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “Sugary drink consumption by youth far exceeds recommended limit, researchers say: Researchers project health effects including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”
A March 17, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “Amazon men in their 80s have the arteries of Americans in their 50s: Lancet study shows diet low on processed carbs, sugar, while active living boost heart health.”
A March 17, 2017 Guardian article is entitled: “Tsimané of the Bolivian Amazon have world’s healthiest hearts, says study: Heart attacks and strokes are almost unknown amongst the Tsimané thanks to a high carbohydrate, low protein diet and active lifestyle, say researchers.”
A March 18, 2017 BBC article is entitled: “‘Healthiest hearts in the world’ found.”
An April 25, 2017 Science Daily article is entitled: “Parents’ use of emotional feeding increases emotional eating in school-age children.”
A summary of the research report from the Society for Research in Child Development, on which the article is based, reads:
“Emotional eating is not uncommon in children and adolescents, but why youth eat emotionally has been unclear. Now a new longitudinal study from Norway has found that school-age children whose parents fed them more to soothe their negative feelings were more likely to eat emotionally later on. The reverse was also found to be the case, with parents of children who were more easily soothed by food being more likely to feed them for emotional reasons.”
An April 25, 2017 Guardian article is entitled: “Backlash after report claims saturated fats do not increase heart risk: Relying on low fat foods to avoid heart disease is misguided, say cardiologists, but critics say comments ignore evidence.”
An April 26, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “Pass the butter: Cutting saturated fat does not reduce heart disease risk, cardiologists say: Focus should instead be on eating ‘real food,’ walking and reducing stress.”
A BBC article, accessed June 22, 2017, article is entitled: “How much sugar is in your snack?”
A Jan. 26, 2017 Atlantic article is entitled: “The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s: A high-carb diet, and the attendant high blood sugar, are associated with cognitive decline.
A Nov. 12, 2021 CBC article is entitled: “Which coffee chain drink has as much sugar as 2 cups of ice cream? Marketplace compares sugar in Starbucks, McCafe and Tim Hortons beverages.”
An excerpt reads:
You probably wouldn’t eat a chocolate bar on your way to work, but depending on your morning beverage of choice, you could be getting a similar amount of sugar in your favourite coffee shop drink.
To learn more about how much of the sweet stuff Canadians are sipping on, Marketplace reviewed online nutrition information for some popular drinks available at coffee shop chains across the country and found some contain a surprising amount of sugar.
“I think people are addicted to sweet, and it’s leading to a health-care crisis,” said hepatologist and gastroenterologist Dr. Supriya Joshi, who believes most people have no idea how much sugar is really in their daily dose of caffeine.