In the past, nutritionists referred to sugar as “empty calories,” or calories that contain zero nutrition and therefore can contribute to weight gain and obesity if eaten in excess.
This has been echoed by companies like Coca Cola and PepsiCo who pay lip service to helping reduce the worldwide obesity epidemic, but don’t admit that their sugar-filled drinks are part of the problem.
Instead, they maintain that continuing to consume their product, but exercising more, will help curb the issue. And they continue that narrative by funding studies that repeat their own hypothesis.
In October 2015, Dr. Robert Lustig, from the department of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco performed research that he says proves sugar is actually the villain.
For Lustig’s research, he studied 43 children from the ages of 8 to 18 years old. After asking about the children’s daily habits, Lustig got an idea for the types of foods and amount of calories each child ate per day. He designed a special nine-day menu for every child participating. But, he replaced the sugar the children usually ate with starch.
While the absence of sugar made their overall caloric intake decrease by 10%, it was everything else that proved to Lustig and his team that sugar is the toxic ingredient. After the nine days, the children showed less fat in their liver, their fasting blood sugar levels dropped by a dramatic average of 53% and their LDL levels also went down.
In the past, it was thought that obesity was related to hormonal disorders, or it was a simple measure of burning off the amount of calories that one has eaten.
While this may play a role in obesity, it doesn’t totally solve the problem. If it did, current efforts to curb the obesity crisis would be working instead of more people continually gaining weight. It is clear the problem is only getting worse. And perhaps, as Lustig suggests, sugar is one of the main culprits in the accessory disorder that often come with obesity.
Gary Taubes, author of The Case Against Sugar, believes that we have approached the issue from all the wrong ways in the past, and it is time to move forward looking at different reasoning behind the crisis. While he also believes sugar is a “toxic agent,” he states the following in his book:
With the epidemics of obesity and diabetes having long ago passed into crisis level, isn’t it time we finally considered seriously the possibility that our prescriptions and approaches to prevention and treatment of these diseases are simply wrong, based on incorrect paradigms and a century of misguided science?