Sugar – it’s big news.

I have just spent an hour and half watching this youtube video:

It is all about how sugar and fructose has a lot to answer for in metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, obesity and type II diabetes) and obesity in general. It was a very interesting watch – a real revision of biochemistry.

I was aware that fructose is metabolised in the liver in much the same way as ethanol but I wasn’t really aware (because I hadn’t thought in depth about it) the negative consequences that implies.

I supported the new sugar campaign but I was a bit reluctant to lay the blame of obesity at sugar’s door so completely as the campaign does. After watching this presentation I would say from a metabolic point of view it is hard to disagree. We must not forget the importance of fibre and exercise, regular meals etc in obesity and well being – which is highlighted in the video but maybe not so clear in the action on sugar’s web page.

This presentation does show that a huge demand must be made of government and industry to do much more to reduce sucrose and fructose from manufactured foods. Without a big move from industry, regulated or voluntary, it is very hard to shift the population’s sugar consumption by educating individuals alone.  Public Health needs collaboration across government, education, industry and from individuals.  We saw from work on salt that initiatives to reduce salt in processed foods can reduce the population’s intake and there should be a similar body of work carried out with sugar.

Very interesting lecture indeed – he makes even the biochemistry accessible, I would have enjoyed biochemistry a lot more with him as a lecturer.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. foxsocks says:

    I would like my 8yr old son to appreciate the detrimental effects of sugar! He seems to think its the best thing in the world. Yes – the industry managed to reduce salt so there is no reason they cant reduce sugar. We have all become so used to having more than we need.

  2. Did you watch

    It was very interesting and important to show that sugar should not become the Demon. This programme confirmed my feeling that demonising one macronutrient completely is not the way to go. Dr Lustig is very convincing and his metabolic arguments are very good but how does this really translate in real people? To what degree does excessive fructose have negative health effects? To what extent does excess calories from sugar contribute to obesity? There is not the evidence to support Dr Lustig’s argument that fructose is poison! I think that if we cut refined sugar out of our diet I am sure many of us would lose weight and feel healthier but only if we continue eating plenty fruits and veg, complex carbs and wholegrains.

    This is a very reductionist view and if we turn sugar into the demon as fat was the bad guy could end up down the same avenue in 30 years time? I am caught up in this debate now and this is why nutrition is fascinating – it is understandable why the public get confused and become disengaged.

    We cannot live without carbs just like we cannot live without fats – we do have to appreciate the variety of these macronutrients and the foods that they come packaged in, the pattern of how we eat them. It is the way we eat these macronutrients that is more important than any macronutrient in isolation. The blend of fat and sugar together might be more problematic than either macronutrient on its own.

    In this regard, bringing the food industry to consider the way these macronutrients are packaged in processed foods is important part of moving the public towards better diet and health. Currently, many of our manufactured foods make it incredibly easy to consume large amounts of calories in a way that does not affect our satiety mechanisms very well – we are then able to consume calories in an uncontrolled way.

    I do support the move to remove unnecessary sugar from manufactured foods – but I think we should be wary to demonise sugar or carbs completely, to start eating fat and fatty foods too liberally and to lose sight of the big picture.

    Bottom line – eat a varied diet, don’t rely on processed foods, eat regularly and take exercise. Faddy diets that exclude any one food group are not good!

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