Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sugar Industry Denies Link to Obesity

With the growing obesity 'epidemic' (I would argue that it's endemic), the sugar industry is busy fighting off bad PR. A recent statement blames obesity on increased consumption plus poor exercise, rather than on sugar per se. However, as this, this, and other studies have found, high sugar content diets do promote higher total calorie consumption, probably through appetite stimulation.

I think there are two levels of nutrition advice--public health and individualized medical advice. Marion Nestle is right that the public health message should be short and sweet, and avoid getting lost in trans-fats and micronutrients:

1. Eat less calories
2. Eat more vegetables
3. Move more

Anything more specific than that should come from your primary care provider or nutritionist, tailored to your own age, gender, cholesterol level, etc.


At 12:05 PM, Blogger J. James Mooney said...

You don't believe the sugar biz (likewise fastfood) should be held accountable for obesity, as was the case with big tobacco and cancer, do you?

At 2:51 PM, Blogger fmodo said...

No, sugar and tobacco are very different.

Tobacco is addictive, and the industry pretended it wasn't. Sugar is not addictive. Thus sugar co's are not drug pushers.

Sugar is a nutrient, and food necessary for life; tobacco has no health benefit. Sugar is thus a legitimate commodity.

See David Kessler's "A Question of Intent" for the tobacco industry's dirty politics, not nearly matched by the food industry's.

Tobacco causes cancer and emphysema, but the industry pretended it was harmless. Here's where it gets sticky for the sugar industry--they will lose credibility if they pretend that diets with a high proportion of sugar calories is just as good as a diet low in sugar calories. It is on this issue that they will start to look like tobacco companies if they're not careful, even though they aren't morally equivalent.

At 1:25 AM, Blogger J. James Mooney said...

Well said. Thanks for the response.

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