Sugar

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Sugar Is A Risk for Heart Disease, Too

A 12-ounce can of Coke has 9 teaspoons of sugar. (Kansir/Flickr)

A 12-ounce can of Coke has 9 teaspoons of sugar. (Kansir/Flickr)

By Allison Aubrey, NPR

We’ve written lots lately about the potentially addictive qualities of sugar and the public policy efforts to limit consumption.

Now comes a new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which finds that Americans who consumed the most sugar — about a quarter of their daily calories — were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who limited their sugar intake to 7 percent of their total calories.

To translate that into a 2,000-calorie a day diet, the big sugar eaters were consuming 500 calories a day from sugar — that’s 31 teaspoons. Those who tamed their sweet tooth, by contrast, were taking in about 160 calories a day from sugar — or about 10 teaspoons per day.

Unfortunately, most Americans have a sugar habit that is pushing toward the danger zone. Continue reading

Study: Sugar — Independent of Obesity — Causes Diabetes

SugarBowl_Judy_FlickrFor years, doctors have debated sugar’s role in causing diabetes. The prevailing medical opinion has been that eating more sugar means eating more calories, and it’s the resulting weight gain that leads to diabetes. But a major new study shows a direct link between sugar and diabetes — a link that’s independent of a person’s weight.

KQED’s Stephanie Martin interviewed one of the study’s authors, Dr. Robert Lustig from UCSF. Lustig is an expert on childhood obesity and has been vocal about the health hazards of sugar for years. His video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” has more than three million views on YouTube.

“This is the same level of proof that was available to us when we implicated cigarettes as the cause of lung cancer back in the 1960′s.”

Lustig told Martin that the study was very carefully done — researchers looked at sugar consumption in 175 countries over a decade and controlled for just about everything including obesity, poverty, and physical activity. They found that the more sugar in the food supply, the higher the rates of diabetes in that country, no matter what the obesity rates were.

In the study, sugar was 11 times stronger than total calories in explaining diabetes rates around the world. “Those countries where sugar went up showed increases in [diabetes] rates. Those countries where sugar availability went down, showed decreases in rate.” Continue reading

The Numbers on Sugar

(Uwe Hermann: Flickr)

(Uwe Hermann: Flickr)

Dr. Robert Lustig is perhaps the most outspoken anti-sugar critic out there. His 90 minute video, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has netted 3.2 million views on YouTube; his latest book Fat Chance, which, among other things, links sugar to obesity and chronic disease, is currently #68 on Amazon’s Top 100 bestselling books.

On Monday, Lustig was a guest on KQED’s Forum and even though he was fighting a bad cold, he was his usual passionate self on many things related to the American diet, especially sugar. Lustig believes sugar is such a dietary menace that it should be regulated, much the same way alcohol is regulated.

He rattled off a lot of numbers during his discussion with Forum host Michael Krasny.

Continue reading

What Does the FDA Think About Sugar?

Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner. (US Mission Geneva: Flickr)

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner. (US Mission Geneva: Flickr)

Last week, the big story may have been the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s flip-flopping over funding Planned Parenthood. But coming in a close second (at least here at the health desk) was the call for regulating sugar in the same way alcohol and tobacco are. The argument was made by UC San Francisco researchers in the journal Nature. They laid out the science that sugar is behind many of the chronic maladies we see today–diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Today FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg was a guest on KQED’s Forum. Host Michael Krasny asked her if sugar should be removed from the FDA’s “GRAS” category–that’s for Generally Recognized as Safe. Not surprisingly, the Commissioner did not announce imminent action. She said she did have a chance to “look quickly at the initial report” and that “we’ll look very seriously at any new data that’s presented.” Continue reading

Sugar: A Sweetener Gone Sour?

(Uwe Hermann: Flickr)

(Uwe Hermann: Flickr)

A spoonful of sugar may have helped the medicine go down when Julie Andrews sang the song, but fast forward to the 21st century and sugar isn’t looking so sweet. Today in a provocative commentary in the journal Nature, researchers argue that sugar is so toxic to our bodies, it should be regulated in the same way alcohol and tobacco are.

The three writers, all from UC San Francisco, say that every country that has adopted the Western diet, with its hallmark of highly-processed food, has seen rising rates of obesity and the diseases that go with it, such as heart disease and diabetes. But, in a turn, they argue against blaming obesity itself. “Obesity is not the cause,” they write, “rather, it is a marker for metabolic dysfunction, which is even more prevalent.” Metabolic syndrome leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver disease and even cancer, they say. Continue reading