Sugar Love was the subject of the August, 2013 issue of National Geographic. It is indeed sweet to finally see a major publication echoing the message some of us have been preaching for years! When I wrote Carb Wars; Sugar is the New Fat, in 2007, I was called a extremist (among other things). You can read the cover story online here, but I’d like to get a copy to frame and put on my wall! And several more to pass out to the people I care about, especially the ones who wouldn’t listen when it was just muckrakers like me sounding the alarm.
Here are some passages from the article written by Rich Cohen and beautifully photographed by Robert Clark:
“Sugar was the oil of its day. The more you tasted, the more you wanted. In 1700 the average Englishman consumed 4 pounds a year. In 1800 the common man ate 18 pounds of sugar. In 1870 that same sweet-toothed bloke was eating 47 pounds annually. Was he satisfied? Of course not! By 1900 he was up to 100 pounds a year. In that span of 30 years, world production of cane and beet sugar exploded from 2.8 million tons a year to 13 million plus. Today the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar annually, or more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
‘It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.’ Richard Johnson, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver, was talking to me in his office in Aurora, Colorado…Why is it that one-third of adults [worldwide] have high blood pressure, when in 1900 only 5 percent had high blood pressure?’ he asked. ‘Why did 153 million people have diabetes in 1980, and now we’re up to 347 million? Why are more and more Americans obese? Sugar, we believe, is one of the culprits, if not the major culprit.’
As far back as 1675, when western Europe was experiencing its first sugar boom, Thomas Willis, a physician and founding member of Britain’s Royal Society, noted that the urine of people afflicted with diabetes tasted ‘wonderfully sweet, as if it were imbued with honey or sugar.’ Two hundred and fifty years later Haven Emerson at Columbia University pointed out that a remarkable increase in deaths from diabetes between 1900 and 1920 corresponded with an increase in sugar consumption. And in the 1960s the British nutrition expert John Yudkin conducted a series of experiments on animals and people showing that high amounts of sugar in the diet led to high levels of fat and insulin in the blood—risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. But Yudkin’s message was drowned out by a chorus of other scientists blaming the rising rates of obesity and heart disease instead on cholesterol caused by too much saturated fat in the diet.’…
Recently the American Heart Association added its voice to the warnings against too much added sugar in the diet. But its rationale is that sugar provides calories with no nutritional benefit. According to Johnson and his colleagues, this misses the point. Excessive sugar isn’t just empty calories; it’s toxic.’ “
But before we get too excited, let me sound a new warning about what is going to happen next. Now that the dangers of sugar are getting some coverage, we will see a flood of new products that are low in both sugar AND fat. I’ve already seen a new, high-protein, low-sugar, non-fat milk at my local Fred Myer store. And while that may be an improvement over regular non-fat milk, since protein keeps you from being hungry longer than sugar (lactose in milk), it is still far from ideal. Excess intake of protein may bring a whole new set of problems, but I’m happy to report that the same store now also sells organic, whole milk from grass-fed cows and that is a step in the right direction.
I’m off to the IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference) for the weekend. I couldn’t miss it since it is in Seattle this year. I haven’t been to one before, and this one is said to be the best of the best, with great food and lots of swag. I feel like I already know many of the participants because we’ve had a very active Facebook page. They all seem to be young and energetic; hope I can keep up!
(c) 2013, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwarsblog.com