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The Devil’s Candy

photo: www.flickr.com/photos/chrisjohnbeckett

Oh, sugar. You are pure evil. We dino-chow people know it. You know it. And now the rest of the world seems to be waking up to your underlying malevolence.

The February 2 edition of Science Daily includes an article called “Societal Control of Sugar Essential to Ease Public Health Burden, Experts Urge.” It’s an overview of an article published in the journal Nature that basically outs sugar as a big-time baddie in its causal relationship with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Written by a group of endocrinologists, sociologists, and public health advocates, the piece argues that “Added sweeteners pose dangers to health that justify controlling them like alcohol….”


Here are some sweet quotes that I enjoyed chewing on…

Sugar… is far from just “empty calories” that make people fat. At the levels consumed by most Americans, sugar changes metabolism, raises blood pressure, critically alters the signaling of hormones and causes significant damage to the liver — the least understood of sugar’s damages. These health hazards largely mirror the effects of drinking too much alcohol, which they point out in their commentary is the distillation of sugar.

“As long as the public thinks that sugar is just ‘empty calories,’ we have no chance in solving this,” said [Robert] Lustig, a professor of pediatrics, in the division of endocrinology at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at UCSF.

“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,” Lustig said. “But sugar is toxic beyond its calories.”

“There is an enormous gap between what we know from science and what we practice in reality,” said [Laura] Schmidt, professor of health policy at UCSF’s Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies…. “In order to move the health needle, this issue needs to be recognized as a fundamental concern at the global level,” she said.

“We’re not talking prohibition,” Schmidt said. “We’re not advocating a major imposition of the government into people’s lives. We’re talking about gentle ways to make sugar consumption slightly less convenient, thereby moving people away from the concentrated dose. What we want is to actually increase people’s choices by making foods that aren’t loaded with sugar comparatively easier and cheaper to get.”

I encourage you to read the whole piece at Science Daily. (The Nature article is available to purchase for $32 if you want to read the original.)

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16 Responses to “The Devil’s Candy”

  1. Brenda says:

    My nemesis no doubt. I’ve finally been able to get my sweet tooth in check by going paleo but it really is a slippery slope. It’s tempting and too easy to over do. Get thee behind me sugar…

  2. Susannah says:

    It is really encouraging that we are beginning to have a public discussion about sugar. I have been trying to quit sugar for almost a year and I am determined to succeed. I was a committed smoker, starting at age 11 and quitting at age 32, and it was hell, just plain hell to quit. But I think sugar is harder. I am convinced that sugar is poison and I am living proof it is addictive.

  3. Tami C. says:

    Isn’t sugar subsidized? Corn is (and thereby corn syrup.) So if the government really wants to do something about over-consumption why not stop subsidizing those things?

    Of course, that would mean losing the farmer vote. So more than likely they will continue subsidizing it to please the farmers, and tax it (like tobacco) to make people think they actually care and are “doing something.” Madness.

  4. Janet says:

    I do believe sugar, in all forms, is evil!

  5. Laurie Anne says:

    Sugar would have been the death of me…had I not discovered Paleo a year ago. :)

  6. Malory says:

    YOP. Stopping the subsidies of crap like corn would be a huge step. Real sugar actually isn’t that affordable or, therefore, profitable for companies. There would be at least a loss less incentive for packing every food product with salt and sugar.

  7. ms jane says:

    Sugar is my crack. It is evil. Enough said.

  8. Andrea says:

    Wholeheartedly agree…sugar is from the devil. I am happy to say I have defeated my sugar demons and consider myself a happy, healthy (and completely satisfied) recovered sugarholic.

  9. Gabriel says:

    Thanks for posting this. Very good info for that inevitable discussion of “why aren’t you eating…”.

    My wife and I have been eating paeleo for about five weeks now, mostly thanks to Well Fed, and we had a small cheat dessert of Gelato (we split a small) after a night out and we both had a really serious sugar rush complete with feeling jittery and a headache. It’s pretty incredible how much it affects you once you’ve detoxed.

  10. Sallie says:

    Thank you for posting this.

  11. Katarina says:

    Thanks for posting this! I caught a snippet of it on the radio the other day, but I was driving and didn’t catch the resource! I was talking to a friend about it yesterday so now I can share it with her!

  12. Lady A says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s eye-opening. I’ve been battling the sugar demon for ages. I still haven’t let it go. It feels so interwined with how I think of myself. I’m finding the hardest part is changing the way I think about myself. I don’t want to be someone who’s “battling” it anymore. I continually ask myself when my actions will live up to my ideals? I need a swift kick in my you know what.

  13. Patti says:

    All I have to do is have sugar and I am reminded of how bad it is for me by the way I feel afterward. Even with dark chocolate, I can still feel the effects immediately. Sugar & non- healthy carbs are my evil- it has been difficult to keep away from them, but I am committed to doing so. Especially difficult, as we use these foods in so many of our celebrations. Thank you for the article- it’s good to see confirmation of what we already intuitively know!

  14. Gary says:

    Have cut nearly all sugar from my diet, barring when i have a few beers on occasion. Wife struggles though, howether, just been hit with T.V. advertising for Stevia products here in UK, apparently now licensed for use by EU from Dec 2011, what a result, a proper alternative for those that struggle cutting out the white poison.

  15. Danielle Vallee says:

    I’ve had an incredible sweet tooth my whole life. As a (luckily, slim) kid in elementary school I would toss out my lunches to buy chocolate & candy from the convenience store across from the school!

    I’ve been fit, trim and obsessed with nutrition for over 7 years and yet it was not until January 1, 2012, that I finally faced my greatest challenge and gave up sugar. Not just sugar but all sweeteners, syrups, sweet sauces, honey, dairy, and most fruit. Basically, if it registers as sweet to my body or my palate, it’s out. I knew this was my Final Frontier and happily, I was in the kind of good place mentally and physically that I knew I was ready to take it on.

    41 days in, I can say that giving up sweet things has been the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s amazing how much stronger I became mentally after the first few days. In the same way that it becomes second nature to turn down bread and pasta if we’re paleo, or meat and eggs for a vegan, for me I just say no to this stuff now.

    I set an “end date” to my challenge since, honestly, I cannot imagine a life without brownies! That said, no food, no ANYTHING is worth sacrificing my physical health or my self-worth. So the challenge officially ends at the end of March, after 3 months. However, FOR SURE I will need to avoid sugar, dairy and sweets for the rest of my life, treating them like something for a rare special occasion, not a permissible normal treat as before.

    Melissa, thanks for this post and your blog! Love cooking from Well Fed!!

    Danielle

  16. Lauren B says:

    I love this article and will share it in my blog round up. I share your disdain for sugar and try to educate people about sugar-free recipes for their favorite desserts. Just found your blog. Love what you’re doing here, Melissa! So many great paleo recipes. :)

  17. [...] I don’t agree with the regulation of sugar as an addictive substance because it would make me an actual drug dealer as a pastry chef and it would also destroy my career, but I have given some drunk soap box rants on how addictive sugar is and that one day it’ll be regulated heavily. Melissa doesn’t seem drunk in this post, but it’s the internets, who knows. http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2012/02/03/devils-candy/ [...]

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