Superfluous Matter

I wrote about sugar a bunch in my recent post about health. Today I came across an interesting article by Gary Taubes talking about how the sugar industry has employed a lot of the same tactics as the tobacco industry in trying to prevent the FDA in the United States from suggesting that Americans limit their intake of added sugar to any specific amount. Check out Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lie at Mother Jones. Gary Taubes also did an AMA on reddit to answer questions about the article.

In both the article and the AMA the thing I liked best is that although he believes strongly in his position, he is very clearly open to being proven wrong. The article is mostly just a summary of the history of lobbying by the sugar industry and in the AMA he prefixes most of his answers with phrases like "assuming I'm right." Furthermore he has started a nonprofit organization, called NuSI to "improve the quality of science in nutrition and obesity research" in order to overcome the fact that "current dietary guidelines are not based on rigorous science."

Now perhaps the research from NuSI will be just as biased as the research funded and pushed by the sugar industry. But maybe it will help balance things out?

Many people in the comments to the article claim that the data actually point to the rise in the use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as the real problem. I'm not sure whether HFCS is so much worse than sugar as to single-handedly cause the explosion in obesity in the US. However an interesting side point is that the sugar industry has been able to jump on the recent hysteria about HFCS to position itself as the safe and natural alternative. Industry lobby groups are terrifying.

Previous post | Next post