Sugar, Not Obesity, Is Our 'Smoking Gun'
Study conclusively finds that sugar is toxic, declares Mark Bittman
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2013 1:26 PM CST

(Newser) – Sugar is "toxic," and is hands-down the biggest problem with the American diet, declares Mark Bittman in the New York Times. He cites a new study that finds increased sugar consumption is linked to increased diabetes rates, regardless of obesity rates. "In other words, according to this study, obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does," Bittman writes. And there's no arguing with the study; it "controlled for everything controllable," and is just about as conclusive as it gets. (Bittman compares it to the 1960s study that linked cigarettes to lung cancer.)

Basically, "for every 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up 1%," Bittman writes. If you were waiting for a smoking gun, this is it. It's time for the FDA to re-evaluate the safety of sugar, come up with a maximum daily value, and remove fructose and added sugars from its list of foods generally recognized as safe. Only then will the "pushers of sugar" no longer have "license to contaminate our food supply." Click for Bittman's full column.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Sugar, Not Obesity, Is Our 'Smoking Gun' is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 78 comments
Mar 1, 2013 9:05 PM CST
Normally I'd check out the original study before making any comment, but I have to point out that Bittman's column loses credibility badly when he says "fructose (the “sweet” molecule in sugar that causes the damage)." I'm not even sure what exactly he is trying to say. Has he confused fructose with sucrose? Or is the study saying the fructose in sugar is responsible for the damage, not the sucrose itself? Does it make a difference if the fructose is still part of the sucrose or split out? I urge folks to also check the primary source of the study.
Mar 1, 2013 4:20 PM CST
I dont doubt too much sugar is bad for a person, that is a given, but I am wondering how many of the people in the study may have been borderline diabetic without sugar in which the excess amount push it over the edge. We were told in grade school years ago eat too much sugar you will get diabetes, you eat too much sugar you will get cavities...and now being grown up I know part, yes only part of the truth...sugar doesnt GIVE you diabetes, it is when the pancreas stops producing or slows producing insulin that you GET diabetes. Sugar CAN contribute to just that. (and as a side note...tartar is what causes cavities, sugar CONTRIBUTES to it) What better way to make a child NOT eat sugar than to tell them it is the cause of all of their problems. I wonder if that is why children get hyper...and what better way to keep a child in Blood sugar in a person is elevated after eating...ANYTHING...NOT just sugar. That is why if you walk after a meal you lower your risk for diabetes. So If I walk after a meal and I dont eat sugar I wont ever get diabetes..right? And as far as farmers..ACTUAL farmers getting paid by the government..they DONT. Most of the subsidies that are in existence is to ADM and MONSANTO (which if by the way you look at Red Heart yarn...YES yarn you will find the name Monsanto). There is such a wide G-A-P between the city and country in what actually goes on with producing food anymore.....the farmer just grows it...its the corporations having THEIR fingers in the pockets of the government that conrols what we eat...NOT the farmer.... :)
Mar 1, 2013 2:21 PM CST
It should be noted that Dr. Lustig and his colleagues acknowledge that a significant limitation to their recent analysis was the failure to tease out differences between natural sugar and high fructose corn syrup, writing, “our analysis cannot distinguish between any specific added sugars, such as HFCS or sucrose, or between any specific vehicle, such as soda or processed food,” and further acknowledge that another recent study specifically “correlated high-fructose corn syrup with diabetes prevalence.” Another recent study compared a HFCS-sweetened beverage with the same beverage type sweetened with sugar. The researchers found “significantly different acute metabolic effects” and concluded “HFCS is more likely to cause acute adverse effects than sucrose.” Even the FDA has ruled that “use of the term ‘sugar’ to describe HFCS, a product that is syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties.” Not all "sugars" are created equally and, given the fact that Americans are consuming far less natural sugar today than we were for most of the last 100 years, with a dramatic 35 percent decline during the last 40 years, according to the USDA, it seems unlikely that sugar is to blame for the rise in obesity and related metabolic diseases.