You are too busy doing for others to think of yourself every day. This is why you eat no breakfast in the morning…too busy. This is why you eat your lunch on the go, though you may consider eating something ‘healthy’ like a salad at the fast food establishment on your way. Dinner will have to be almost prepared when you get ready to start making it, something out of the freezer, or maybe one of those ‘brown the meat’ and eat dinners. Either that or you will poll the kids and see if Taco Bell sounds like a winner for dinner. What choice do you have, really? There is just no time to do it for yourself these days…and if you look at the boxes all these foods have something nice to say for themselves…low fat, low calorie, vitamins added, no gluten, every single thing you buy in a box, bottle or bag at the grocery has a claim to a portion of your healthy daily diet.
Too bad something in all of that food is making you fat. Too bad something in all of that food is making you and your kids sick. The good news is that they are working on a pill for that.
I don’t happen to go in for conspiracy theories. I do however believe that everything tends to take the path of least resistance. I used to eat fast. I used to eat cheap. I got fat, and almost got sick. My Mom and Dad both got fat and sick. I narrowly avoided that fate, and I now know what is making us sick. Sugar.
The word is out. It’s in today’s Guardian over in the UK. “The Sugar Conspiracy” details how this industry has managed to keep the truth out of the spotlight until now.
Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.
A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.
The truth about sugar has been known my entire life. It is not news to me that sugar and sweets are fattening. We all know that. We all have always known that. This is not news. The thing that IS news, however is that eating fat is NOT fattening. It has never been fattening, and no scientist anywhere ever has said that eating fat makes anybody fat. What they did say, for a time, is that eating fat might cause your arteries to clog up with fat, and that arteries clogged up with fat might lead to sudden coronary death. Eating fat does not make anybody fat. Eating low-fat, because when you take the fat out you are eating more sugar, means that you will get fat. Sugar leads to fat, low fat food leads to fat.
Way back when, the government recommended that we cut the amount of fat we eat, to improve our heart health. It was unproven whether or not eating low fat would help. The evidence is in, the medicine is worse than the disease, A LOT WORSE. When the government recommended this, the food industry started making foods that were low in fat, low in calories, and more processed than ever. This is why you, busy mom, busy dad, are unable to buy anything to eat, anywhere, that does not contain sugar.
The full size Asian Cashew Chicken Salad at Wendy’s is a ‘healthy’ choice. It contains 18 grams of sugar. The amount of sugar is in grams because you dont have any idea how much sugar that is. I will tell you, 18 grams of sugar is 4 and a half teaspoons of sugar. If you make a salad yourself at home, how often do you sprinkle 4 and a half teaspoons of sugar on it? I don’t do that either. The sugar will be in the salad dressing.
They add sugar to EVERYTHING that is processed at the store. There is added sugar in 8 out of 10 processed food items at the store. If you look on the box or bag it will show you how much is in there, and its in the most amazing things. If you go to Whole Foods and get the 365 Everyday Value Organic Chicken Broth Low Sodium, Fat Free, it contains cane sugar, as does the same kind of thing at Trader Joe’s. There is sugar in your breakfast sausage, your yogurt, your Hamburger Helper. Believe me when I say that if you don’t make it yourself, you will be eating pounds of sugar per month, and you wont even know it’s there. It won’t taste sweet.
So the solution to our dietary problem would be to start naming the devil. Sugar should take the place of fat as a dietary evil, because it is. However, this will not happen in my lifetime. It will not happen for two reasons, one is the Merchants of Doubt will keep the scientific community from ‘reaching a consensus.’ Consensus is the method that was used by the tobacco industry to keep from having to say their product was unhealthy and addictive for so long. The necessary fact that science is never settled was used against us, and is still being used against us.
The other factor working against sugar being regulated as an addictive and poisonous substance is that there are a lot of people making money by preaching the ‘conventional wisdom’ on diet. The voices on the fringes now, Nina Teicholz, Gary Taubes, Robert Lustig, are all swimming against the prevailing current. These brave voices are screaming out the current science, while the Nutrition Establishment are all trying to silence them. By silence I mean that very literally. Efforts to reduce the size of Teicholz’ current megaphone are disturbing:
In September last year she wrote an article for the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), which makes the case for the inadequacy of the scientific advice that underpins the Dietary Guidelines. The response of the nutrition establishment was ferocious: 173 scientists – some of whom were on the advisory panel, and many of whose work had been critiqued in Teicholz’s book – signed a letter to the BMJ, demanding it retract the piece.
Publishing a rejoinder to an article is one thing; requesting its erasure is another, conventionally reserved for cases involving fraudulent data. As a consultant oncologist for the NHS, Santhanam Sundar, pointed out in a response to the letter on the BMJ website: “Scientific discussion helps to advance science. Calls for retraction, particularly from those in eminent positions, are unscientific and frankly disturbing.”
Of the 173 ‘scientists’ to sign this letter, many were actually students of scienctific professors at college. Some were just lay-person dieticians. Many had not read the article they were calling to be retracted. My guess is that all 173 of them had answered a social media call to ‘sign this petition.’ This is how the merchants of doubt operate, though. They don’t care about the science, or the effect on science on this kind of nefarious activity. They are protecting their employer, the sugar maker, the food maker.
Most dangerous to science though are the scientists protecting thier professional opinions. Many scientists have made a living preaching a certain thing, and in this case it would be the danger of saturated fat in the human diet. For these people to admit that the science is no longer on their side means that they have to start preaching another sermon, they will lose some of their audience, they will lose some esteem, they will suffer personally for being wrong. Never mind that to continue to preach in the face of reality means that you are giving up all professional credibility. Nobody now preaches that the earth is flat, for instance, though once a man was condemned for daring to suppose that the earth rotated about the sun. Reality wins. Always.
It’s not true to say that “Nobody Cares” like I do in the title. I care. What I mean by that is that you are too busy to pay attention like I do to all of these disputes, or science, or even to cook any of your own food. For you and your kids they are going to have to start cooking it without the sugar in it for you to get the benefit of the new knowledge about sugar. For you, the fighting by me, Teicholz, Lustig, Taubes, the author at the Guardian and a few other big voices are what will finally help you. You are not going to be any less busy or start caring more about this any time soon. I can shout until I am blue in the face that you should make your own food and quit buying processed food. You just dont have time to care. For you, the fight to make food healthy again is the fight that will make you healthy again. No pill will cure what ails you and your family. Only by keeping the sugar out will you quit gaining weight, quit getting diabetes, quit getting high blood pressure.
Keep up the struggle, comrades. We are winning the war, but some of the battles we are losing.
excellent blog piece, Dan!
Thank you so much for the feedback!