Beyond Gorgeous

How bad for you is sugar?  Bad enough to rate government intervention? Dr. Robert H. Lustig, a professor of pediatrics, in the division of endocrinology at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, thinks so.  In a recent article in Nature magazine, co-written by two other specialists, Dr. Laura Schmidt and Dr. Claire Brindis, he recommends treating sugar in the same way as other health hazards such as alcohol and tobacco.

“There are good calories and bad calories, just as there are good fats and bad fats, good amino acids and bad amino acids, good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. But sugar is toxic beyond its calories,” Lustig said.

Sugar, the article’s authors say, is fueling a worldwide obesity pandemic.  Its contribution to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes and the related health problems brought on by these diseases, causes about 35 million deaths worldwide.  About 75% of the healthcare dollars in the U.S. are spent on treating these three diseases.

The authors argue that sugar does more than make people fat.  It also is responsible for changing metabolism, raising blood pressure, altering the signaling of hormones, and damaging the liver.

So what can the government do?  The article recommends the same tactics used against alcohol and tobacco consumption.  Taxes which make particularly harmful foods, like sodas, prohibitive is one suggestion.  Tightening licensing on vending machines and snack bars, and educational programs to make inform the public of the hazards of sugar were also among the authors’ suggestions.

Whether the government should get involved in our diet choices may be a matter for argument, but the fact that we need to cut out the sugar is not!  We’ll be looking at the different types of sweeteners in the next few posts to check out options for cutting down on sugar and the even more toxic high fructose corn syrup.

Eating to live and living for Christ,

Susan Jordan Brown

Nature 482, 27–29 (02 February 2012) doi:10.1038/482027a

Published online 01 February 2012


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