If your social media newsfeeds include fitness and nutrition sources, you’ve likely read You’ll Stop Eating Sugar After Reading This Post. From the aptly named Babble.com, it went viral, as they say, this past week.
Here’s the short version: Sugar is evil, it will kill you, blah, blah, blah.
Now if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know we’re not fans of thinking of some foods as off-limits and we especially hate the language of “good” and “evil” when it comes to food choices. See Tracy’s past post Why Food Is Beyond “Good” and “Evil” for a clear articulation of why that’s so.
While there is no doubt we, as a society, are eating too much sugar (the American Heart Association recommends 9.5 teaspoons a day but the average American adult eats 22 and the average American child 32–no Canadian stats close at hand) I’m very leery of approaches to food and nutrition that involve demonizing some foods and banishing them from our diets altogether. There is a handy info-graphic about sugar and its over-consumption here.
I’m not going to defend sugar or take on the claims from Babble, but I do want to share with you a post from someone who has. Here’s Healthy Urban Kitchen’s response: 25 Things You Should Know About Sugar
I won’t rehash all 25 myths and the myth busting responses but I will include 22 as it’s a personal favourite and it’s a myth that lots of friends believe even though there’s no evidence to support it.
22 Sugar is Affecting Our Kids
Citing a single study about preschoolers and sugary drinks doesn’t support the idea that sugar as part of a balanced diet has any adverse effects on the behavior or cognitive abilities of kids.
a) ‘Although sugar is widely believed by the public to cause hyperactive behavior, this has not been scientifically substantiated. Twelve double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of sugar challenges failed to provide any evidence that sugar ingestion leads to untoward behavior in children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or in normal children. Likewise, none of the studies testing candy or chocolate found any negative effect of these foods on behavior. ‘
b) Does sugar make children hyperactive?
If you want to understand why parents believe this, look no further than the power of fear-based articles like these being widely shared and the Pygmalion effect: the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. When kids are primed to bounce off the walls because they ate sugar, most will take the opportunity to let loose.
Here is an older post on the alleged evils of sugar from one of our favourite websites Go Kaleo.
Go Kaleo: “Sugar is not THE problem. Sugar may be (and probably is, under some circumstances) A problem, one of many. But if we’re going to treat sugar as THE problem, and then ‘solve’ that problem by simply eliminating sugar, we’re missing the forest for the trees. Well, for one tree. A bush really. Inactivity is a bigger problem than sugar, and fixating on sugar gives the inactivity a free pass. To improve metabolic health we really need to address all the problems. Don’t get hung up on Sugar As The Bad Guy. You cheat yourself out of vibrant good health, and miss out on some yummy and perfectly appropriate desserts.”
And while Healthy Urban Kitchen and Go Kaleo sound all polite and reasonable, Melkor (another favourite Facebook fitness and nutrition skeptic) isn’t that restrained.
Better headline: You’ll Stop Reading Babble.com After Seeing Them Give Airtime to This Codswallop.
This new anti-sugar article that’s going around is 100% incorrect. It is false, every bit of it, it’s the perfect example of fear-mongering. It is supporting an upcoming documentary called “I Should Be Embarrassed for Believing Shit I Didn’t Research”. I’m writing a rebuttal now…