Monday, March 25, 2013

Dr. Lustig: We Need Less G Not More

“There are good calories and bad calories, just as there are good fats and bad fats, good amino acids and bad amino acids, good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates,” Lustig, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) program at UCSF, said in a statement. “But sugar is toxic beyond its calories.”
The food industry tries to imply that “a calorie is a calorie,” says Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. “But this and other research suggests there is something different about sugar,” says Brownell.
The UCSF report emphasizes the metabolic effects of sugar. Excess sugar can alter metabolism, raise blood pressure, skew the signaling of hormones and damage the liver — outcomes that sound suspiciously similar to what can happen after a person drinks too much alcohol. Schmidt, co-chair of UCSF’s Community Engagement and Health Policy program, noted on CNN: “When you think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense. Alcohol, after all, is simply the distillation of sugar. Where does vodka come from? Sugar.”

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While Dr. Lustig's work is brilliant, his insistence on government intervention is infantile.  It's the government's intervention, "aided" by sugar industry groups, that had us all believing that sugar was fine and fat was killing us.

He's right in my opinion, but the science is immature and will be for the foreseeable future - the best we can know is that if we stop taking in sugar, we'll feel better, look better, perform better.  It's going to take a long time for science to "prove" the level at which sugar - a mix of glucose and fructose - is injurious, and even then, there will be some who are injured at lower exposures and some who are injured at higher exposures.

I do see Lustig's point, however, as regards kids.  I used to see my five year old's friends glugging down a quart of "sports drink" after a 45 minute practice.  It was probably about five times as much sugar and electrolytes as they needed.  Was that why they were ADD and couldn't stay engaged with anything we were doing (or was it my lousy coaching)?  All I know is the more likely they were to be "sports drink gluggers" the more likely they were to be unfocused, distracted kids with overweight parents.  It felt tragic that those parents likely thought they were doing right by their kids for a hot day's practice.  Like Lustig, I wished that an all powerful entity that would swoop in an cure those kids' problems.  

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