05 November 2016

The Guardian: “The sugar conspiracy”

The most prominent recommendation of both governments was to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol (this was the first time that the public had been advised to eat less of something, rather than enough of everything). Consumers dutifully obeyed. We replaced steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk or orange juice. But instead of becoming healthier, we grew fatter and sicker.

Look at a graph of postwar obesity rates and it becomes clear that something changed after 1980. In the US, the line rises very gradually until, in the early 1980s, it takes off like an aeroplane. Just 12% of Americans were obese in 1950, 15% in 1980, 35% by 2000. In the UK, the line is flat for decades until the mid-1980s, at which point it also turns towards the sky. Only 6% of Britons were obese in 1980. In the next 20 years that figure more than trebled. Today, two thirds of Britons are either obese or overweight, making this the fattest country in the EU. Type 2 diabetes, closely related to obesity, has risen in tandem in both countries.

Ian Leslie

Interesting article about the scientist who warned about the health issues excess sugar can cause decades ago – and was met with criticism and derision by his fellows. An unfortunate example where the scientific method takes the back seat to personal feuds and corporate interests in the food industry. The official bodies and the press are beginning to acknowledge the problem, but much of the damage has already been done.

Prevalence of Obesity among Adults in United States
Trends in obesity among adults in the United States, 1960 – 2008. Source & more statistics about the UK

Post a Comment