Friday, January 24, 2014

The Worst Thing You Can Eat

So what do you think is the worst, unhealthiest thing that you consume? If you answered sugar then you agree with the authors of this article.

Here's their lede:
A couple days ago, a group of leading medical and nutrition experts released a call for a 20-30% reduction in sugar added to packaged and processed foods over the next 3-5 years. The expert group, ‘Action on Sugar’, estimates that this change would result in a reduction of roughly 100 calories each person eats per day, and will eventually reverse the obesity epidemic. Wow. The media has picked up on this statement in a huge way, with headlines like ‘Sugar is the ‘new tobacco’, and ‘Sugar is now enemy number one in the western diet. While these headlines sound sensationalist, they are right.

A sickening amount of sugar is added to many processed foods. Some culprits are obvious. There are 9 teaspoons of sugar in a can of regular Coke or Pepsi, but others are surprising. Heinz tomato soup has 4 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Add two slices of white bread to that soup at nearly a teaspoon of sugar, another teaspoon or two in your coffee or tea, and that’s your entire daily sugar allowance. Sugar should comprise no more than 5% of daily energy intake, which is about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 8 teaspoons per day for men.

And what is the big deal about sugar? A calorie is a calorie – right? Well, not so much. The calories provided by sugar are void of nutrition. ‘Action on Sugar’ states it best:

Added sugar is a very recent phenomenon (c150 years) and only occurred when sugar, obtained from sugar cane, beet and corn became very cheap to produce. No other mammal eats added sugar and there is no requirement for added sugar in the human diet. This sugar is a totally unnecessary source of calories, gives no feeling of fullness and is acknowledged to be a major factor in causing obesity and diabetes both in the UK and worldwide.
Humans have no dietary requirement for added sugar. Dr Aseem Malhotra, the science director of ‘Action on Sugar’, emphasizes that the body does not require carbohydrates from sugar added to foods. Furthermore, high sugar intake may reduce the ability to regulate caloric intake, with consumption of sugar leading to eating more sugar, overeating, and ultimately to weight gain. Added sugar therefore presents a ‘double jeopardy’ of empty caloric intake that triggers further unnecessary consumption.
I'm sure many readers will see all this as very unwelcome news, but there it is nevertheless. In fact, there's even more bad news about sugar at the link. You might want to think about foregoing that jelly donut and can of coke tonight.