Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Feb 28, 2013 09:10 AM

"It's The Sugar, Folks"

More support for the "sugar is toxic" hypothesis, reported by Mark Bittman in today's (28 Feb 2013) The New York Times:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Can we now stop subsidizing Big Sugar and King Corn?

    1 Reply
    1. re: janniecooks

      USA is only one data point in this study.

    2. This article is just preaching to the choir for a lot of us.

      I value science, but it is always surprising that so many people won't get involved, active or change their behavior until an established entity of some kind deems it "official".

      It will be interesting to see the research wars now! I think we will see just how corrupt and gross some of these giant Agricorps are, like what happened with tobacco. Hopefully the general public will attempt to use their noggin' for a minute and not wait until the dust settles to make some changes.

      Of course, then again, it is hard to fathom that an obese diabetic didn't somehow "intuitively guess" (before this "proven" research) that drinking a six pack of cola a day might be harming them.

      1. Science Daily's summary of this article

        "As far as I know, this is the first paper that has had data on the relationship of sugar consumption to diabetes," said Marion Nestle, PhD, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University who was not involved in the study. "This has been a source of controversy forever. It's been very, very difficult to separate sugar from the calories it provides. This work is carefully done, it's interesting and it deserves attention."

        The paper itself

        The paper's own summary (note the qualifiers that scientists use when writing for each other, 'appear to .. explained', 'lends credence', 'further investigations'):

        "In summary, population-level variations in diabetes prevalence that are unexplained by other common variables appear to be statistically explained by sugar. This finding lends credence to the notion that further investigations into sugar availability and/or consumption are warranted to further elucidate the pathogenesis of diabetes at an individual level and the drivers of diabetes at a population level."


          A scienceblogs article titled
          "No, It’s Not the Sugar – Bittman and MotherJones have overinterpreted another study"

          2 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              Hoofnagle points out a common problem with reporters' summaries of research reports. Researchers are generally cautious in drawing conclusions β€” reporters are not.

              Nestle's statement (quoted by paulj) is more in the spirit of scientific inquiry.

            2. No, it's not the sugar.

              It's consuming too much sugar.

              Everything in moderation. And a little bit of self-control would solve of if the ills plaguing society.

              12 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Not if it is hidden in everything in the US processed foods. I am a cancer survivor. Many of my docs disagreed on treatments, medicines, etc however the one thing that they did agree on was that sugar should be avoided at all costs, even limiting fruit consumption. Food for thought....PET scan that cancer patients receive....the dye that is injected into the body prior to the scan? The dye is made primarily from sugar molecules. The sugar aggravates the cancer/tumors which causes the "glow" on the scan, highlighting cancer. Learning this fact had a huge impact on how I viewed sugar. I cut sugar out of my diet. My skin, hair, energy, sleep changed for the better. I am now cancer free and I maintain my sugar free lifestyle. It is amazing how much sugar is in EVERYTHING in the US. People claiming that sugar is "ok" in some forms agave, rice syrups, etc and in moderation are simply justifying their addiction to sugar.

                1. re: six dower

                  Your science is a little screwy, the "glow" is from the radioactive component of the tracer in FDG. It's attached to glucose because the cells absorb it and cancer cells absorb it more rapidly (due to higher metabolic function). The sugar doesn't "aggravate" cancer.

                  1. re: six dower

                    Also, sugar is not "hidden"; its presence is obvious if you can read a label.

                    1. re: ferret

                      True, but sugar is in plenty of things that it shouldn't be in. Things that common sense one wouldn't think would be full of it.
                      just an example:

                      I want sugar in my brownies, not peanut butter, etc. And, I'd be willing to bet, though i don't have the time or desire to research it that the lower priced peanut butters, tomato sauces, etc. have the most sugar added.

                      1. re: TroyTempest

                        That's right β€” the problem is that it is being used almost everywhere, and in increasing amounts. A person must be diligent, and must expend time and money to avoid it. A good example is pasta sauce. The inexpensive brands in a jar are loaded with sugar. Consider the problem of a single working parent struggling to make ends meet who wants to feed the kids spaghetti once in awhile because it's quick and inexpensive and the kids like it. Try explaining to a person in that situation that it would be better for the kids to use the gourmet brand without sugar, which costs twice as much, or to make it from scratch, which takes much more time.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            But in the big picture, how significant is the sugar added to savory items like pasta sauce? If a person is trying to cut back on sugar, wouldn't it be best to focus on the big sources?

                            A 2000 USDA paper:
                            "The largest source of added sweeteners was regular soft drinks, which accounted for one third of intake. Other sources were table sugars, syrups, and sweets; sweetened grains; regular fruitades/drinks; and milk products."

                            AHA 2009 "Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health"

                            Table 4 quoting the above:
                            Regular soft drinks 33.0
                            Sugars and candy 16.1
                            Cakes, cookies, pies 12.9
                            Fruit drinks (fruitades and fruit punch) 9.7
                            Dairy desserts and milk products 8.6
                            Other grains (cinnamon toast and honey-nut waffles) 5.8
                            These account for 86%. Other sources (in this study) are below 5% each.

                            "Consumption of added sugars is decreasing in the United States"
                            (full text available)
                            2011 paper, working from 1999-2008 data. The main decrease was in soda consumption. 'energy drinks' increased.

                            1. re: paulj

                              No question that sugar-sweetened soft drinks are the biggest part of the problem. Sodas and desserts are the obvious part of the problem. And sweetened breakfast cereals. Once you've eliminated the obvious sweets from your diet, the not so obvious sources of sugar become important.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                It would be good if we could get people to just eliminate the obvious ones.

                        1. re: ferret

                          Many consumers can't, or won't (read food labels). That's also a problem :-(

                      2. re: ipsedixit

                        Agreed, it's not just sugar. In fact, there are some camps that believe sugar is incredibly metabolically efficient and can promote good health when consumed in adequate (not excessive) amounts. Search Ray Peat for more on this.

                        I'm not a scientist, but many of these diseases and ailments traced back to sugar seem to be rooted and exacerbated by stress and inflammation - can EXCESS sugar cause such a state? Sure! But I don't think cutting it out entirely would be helpful either.

                        1. re: Rodzilla

                          Well said.

                          Everything in moderation (well maybe with the exception of moderation itself)