We all know that sugar harms our teeth — not only have dentists been telling us so for years but the damage makes its presence known in tooth decay. But when it comes to more general health we don’t think of sugar as public enemy number one. Most of us don’t associate obesity and heart disease with sugar, but instead with fat, and in particular the superbaddies, trans and saturated fats.
So where does sugar really stand in the great health debate?
Like other foods, sugar’s health properties, or lack of them, comes and goes in phases, and over the years has been the subject of fierce debate. In 1972 British professor and nutritionist, John Yudkin, set out a theory in his book, Pure, White and Deadly that sugar, not fat, was the biggest culprit in heart disease – but his ideas were met by a bitter response from the scientific community, and for many years it’s been thought that sugar was a far lesser evil than fat.
Things seem to have now come full circle. The British Medical Journal recently printed an article asking if sugar is the real culprit in the obesity epidemic, (Guardian 2013) which cited a study published in the same edition that demonstrated that cutting sugar led to weight loss. The received wisdom through much of the 1990s was that low fat eating could help with weight loss, which saw a proliferation of low fat foods many of which also happened to be highly processed and laden with sugar to make them more palatable. Things are getting very confusing.
So should we give up sugar or shouldn’t we?
As with the vast majority of foods which is frequently under scrutiny by health experts, the safest way to proceed is those magic words IN MODERATION.
To help our customers and clients, Eurest makes those decisions much easier with its Know Your Food programme which provides at-a-glance information about what you’re eating so you can make the judgment for yourself.
There’s no doubt that too much sugar is bad for us — as well as harming our teeth it’s full of calories without having much nutritional value beyond a short term energy burst, so too much will make us put on weight which can in turn lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
As usual in matters relating to food, it’s all about thinking about what we eat, perhaps enjoying a little bit of what we fancy and making sure the rest of our diet is balanced.
Short and sweet.
Aseem Malhotra (2013) Any defence of the sugar industry is pure confection [online]. (Accessed 2 Feb 2013).
How much sugar is good for me? NHS Choices (2011) [online] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1139?CategoryID=51&SubCategoryID=167 (Accessed 2 Feb 2013).