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Jan 09 2018

Book Review: The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

Published by under Books,Reviews

The Case Against SugarThe Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent book that makes a strong case for the impact that sugar has had on the health of Americans and other cultures and societies worldwide. While I understand the frustration of many readers with the issue that Gary uses older source materials in the first part of the book this, in my mind, does not detract from the impact of the information. Sugar consumption has been increasing considerably since the early 1900s and there is a correlation of that with the increase in obesity and diabetes both here and worldwide. Now, yes, I know the argument – “correlation does not prove causation” – and there are websites devoted to proving this (if you’re interested, see here: http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-co…) – but in this case we’re not talking about two completely disparate issues – sugar is a food (or at least an ingredient in food) and obesity and diabetes are related to food in one way or another.

The biochemistry of sugar processing is well known and has been for years – the glucose and fructose are split with the body processing the glucose for energy (or storing it in the liver as glycogen) but fructose is not a usable form of energy for the body to process. It’s the fructose that Taubes points to as the source of the problem. The sugar industry presents a picture where sugar is a harmless product and a calorie is just a calorie. Obesity and diabetes are pictured as diseases of laziness and gluttony rather than a more modern view of them linked to a specific component of our diet. On top of that the medical community has been fixated on the idea that hypertension, heart disease, and others are linked directly to the saturated fat in our diet. Taubes does a good job in pushing that aside and arguing that all of these issues – obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and possibly other conditions are more directly attributable – in not outright linked – to the dramatic increase in our sugar consumption.

The issue I have with Taubes book however is his lack of academic rigidity on the subject. He continually makes statements such as “It seems that…” or “It’s possible that…” and he needs to be more certain in the science. While I feel that he has certainly convinced me that there is something there that should be investigated much further it requires more that the individual researcher here and there (and there are individuals who are pursuing this – Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the UC San Francisco medical school comes to mind) to really vet this possible – and plausible – connection.

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