Healthy Evidence

Sugar: Thoughtful piece by Anjana Ahuja warning that campaigners will only be trusted if they play it absolutely straight

If not, Anjana says companies will seize on uncertainty and inconsistency in the scientific evidence to preserve the status quo. "Quantifying lifestyle factors is not always straightforward. Take the fizzy drinks survey. It did find a correlation between estimated added sugar intake and cardiovascular disease. But the groups being compared were at opposite extremes of the consumption spectrum: either heavy or light consumers. As pointed out by David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University, “the increased hazard for moderately different groups is not that great”. Cutting down on added sugar would have substantial benefits for overall public health – but the average person might not benefit that much."

1 Reply

Interesting piece and you could always complicate it even more. For instance, many people only drink a lot of fizzy drinks in the summer (sales of small bottles from local shops increase in hot weather).

Or the extra sugar intake at Christmas and Easter.

And then someone might spend all week having sweeteners in tea and then go away at the weekend and have sugar.

Just to make it even worse, mammals are programmed to lean towards sweet. Sweet is often safer than sour; sourness might be an indication of poisonous fruit. And sugar = carbon, and as carbon based lifeforms, that is our energy craving.

This is a much more difficult nut to crack than salt, and I am not completely certain that it is a nut worth cracking by legislation. Salt had a point - it was being used to give food that "I want more" edge. However, you don't tend to get food manufactured out of salt, so it is always an additive.

However, there are a lot of food stuffs that simply could not exist without sugar - your local sweet shop has rather a wide selection - and there is a limit to what can use artificial sweetners as a replacement.

I don't have a sweet tooth and it is rare for me to eat a cake, let alone a boiled sweet, but I would be sad to see them go. But you don't need much of either before you have increased your sugar intake enormously, without going near any food that has sugar sneaked in!


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