Sugar is the new smoking.
As a society, we’re in the infancy of realizing what sugar is really doing to our bodies. Much like the debate that went on for years over the dangers of smoking, the debate over sugar is just getting started. Camps have formed and the debates are increasing in frequency and scope. Recently Gary Taubes asserted in a New York Times article (“Big Sugar’s Secret Ally? Nutritionists”) that sugar “may have prematurely killed more people than tobacco.” Those are fighting words, for sure.
We know that sugar is bad for us, but how bad? And we know that we are addicted to sugar, but how addicted? And, if it is bad for us, shouldn’t we blame and shame the sugar industry (“Big Sugar”) for its marketing and selling of sugar products to all of us?
The answers (in short) are:
- Sugar is very bad for us.
- We are very addicted to sugar.
- Blaming and shaming Big Sugar won’t help much, at least according to Taubes.
Now, Taubes isn’t letting Big Sugar off the hook: he believes that industry does have culpability in the nutritional train wreck that is the average American diet, but he acknowledges that in a capitalistic society, companies are trying to make money.
Hence, Big Sugar is using the studies that show a calorie is a calorie (which Taubes argues vehemently is not true), and saying that sugar is not especially contributing to obesity. Taubes writes, “We should expect the consumption of different macronutrients to have differential effects on the hormonal milieu of our cells and so, among myriad other things, on how much fat we accumulate. These effects may be very subtle, but subtle effects can accumulate over a few years or decades into the anything-but-subtle phenomena of obesity and diabetes. In light of this research, arguing today that your body fat responds to everything you eat the exact same way is almost inconceivably naïve.”
But what’s all this mean for you and me?
Basically, don’t believe the hype. Big Sugar is going to try to put sugar into as many products as possible so you’ll continue to be hooked and keep buying sugar-laced products. Big Sugar just wants to make big money. While Taubes and his cohorts try to convince government researchers and scientists to do more work in the realm of sugar consumption and its effects on the body, don’t hold your breath waiting for those studies: they will take years to come out.
What can you do right now? Stop eating obviously sugar-filled products (candy, cakes, donuts, etc.) but also start buying products that you know do not have added sugar. Like everything at Steve’s PaleoGoods. For almost ten years now, I’ve held to my promise not to add sugar to any product we sell.
One of my favorite things we make is our PaleoBars. Why? Because it’s so hard to find a protein bar that is not loaded with tons of sugar, protein powders and/or “natural flavors.” You can have flavor and protein without sugar, and we know how to do that.
So, read those labels, and shop where you know they won’t be slipping sugar into your food. Sugar is the new smoking, but you can start avoiding it if you’re careful.