A new article on sugar toxicity is published in Scientific American (and syndicated in Salon) the other day. It starts off strong with a recapitulation of the familiar:
Today, we add sugar in one form or another to the majority of processed foods we eat—everything from bread, cereals, crunchy snacks and desserts to soft drinks, juices, salad dressings and sauces—and we are not too stingy about using it to sweeten many raw and whole foods as well.
The saccharification of the modern diet is indisputable, and according to Jabr, the consequences are dire: In the quantities typical of the standard american diet, it drives obesity, metabolic disorder, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Unfortunately, while Jabr’s article starts off strong, about halfway through he pivots and plots a dissappointing new course: Sugar, according to the author, is not really the devil he’s made it out to be. In fact, he indicates that the science is less than conclusive about sugar’s effects on our health.
By the end of the article, we are left with the impression that sugar merely encourages us to eat more calories than we expend and that, “if we are really committed to staying healthy, we’ll have to do a lot more than eating less sugar”.
While I’m pleased to see the topic of sugar covered in the popular scientific journal, and in Salon…it’s disappointing to see Jabr use it as a straw man.
If you’re interested in the subject of sugar toxicity, I’d refer you to Peter Attia’s much more thought provoking post on the subject: Is Sugar Toxic? It’s a much more measured and nuanced treatment of the subject than that covered by Jabr.
- Is Sugar Toxic, Peter Attia. Eating Academy, May 28, 2013.
- Is Sugar Really Toxic? Shifting Through The EvidenceFerris Jabr. Scientific American, July 15, 2013.
- Is Sugar Really Toxic?Ferris Jabr. Salon, July 15, 2013. Reprinted from Scientific American.