Special report: Sugar - the bitter truth?
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For four decades we’ve been led to believe that fat is the ultimate food enemy, but we’ve been fed a lie: the real danger is sweet, addictive – and found in almost everyt- hing we eat So what do you know about eating and getting fat? If you’re the average British person then it’s probably something along these lines: eating too much fat will make me obese, clog up my arteries and lead to a heart attack, so I should follow a low-fat diet and eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Wrong. While you were busy fretting over your satur- ated fats and dietary cholesterols, there was a far more potent food nasty lurking in your kitchen: sugar. The amount of sugar we eat is now being blamed not just for the obesity epidemic but for heart disease, type 2 diab- etes and soaring cancer rates. It’s not just the excess calories we’re consuming; the problem lies in the way we metabolise sugar. ‘We have been sold an absolute lie about food and health,’ says Zoë Harcombe, nutritionist and author of The Obesity Epidemic. ‘It has been put about since the 1970s that fat was the bad guy, yet the only fats we know to be harmful are trans fats, and these are almost exclusively man-made. If the fat occurs naturally then it’s fine – no exceptions. Sugar, on the other hand, when added to food, is almost uniformly bad.’ So why was this information hidden from us? ‘Because,’ says Harcombe, ‘the commercial food producers, who rely on sugar, represent a huge and powerful lobby. It’s not just the obvious brands, such as fizzy drinks manufacturers, that would suffer if sugar were removed from our diets. Sugar is added to just about everything you buy ready-made: bread, sauces, ready meals, drinks, tinned foods… The list is endless.’ Even baked beans can contain two and a half teaspoons of sugar in just half a tin. Furthermore, say campaigners, the low-fat industry (now worth billions) is absolutely reliant on sugar because the only way to stop low-fat food tasting like cardboard is to replace fat with sugar. Robert Lustig MD is a paediatric endocrinologist and childhood obesity expert at the University of California and one of the most vocal of the anti-sugar campaigners. Lustig’s 90-minute lecture ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth’ (viewed over four million times on YouTube) is uncompr- omising in its condemnation of sugar as the cause of the obesity epidemic and its assertion that governments (under pressure from pow erful food producers) have kept this fact hidden. Lustig makes the point that we have been trying the low-fat approach for 40 years and it has failed to make us slimmer. In fact we’ve got f atter – and sicker (six per cent of adults in the UK are now registered diabetic). While the percentage of our daily calorie intake accounted for by fat has dropped steadily, the incidence of obesity and related illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, has rocketed. ‘Sugar is the problem,’ states Lustig, ‘and yet public health officials are still advising us to follow a low-fat diet. It’s Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’NEXT
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