Sugar is once again blamed for causing global epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Its deleterious effect on the human body goes beyond increase in calories, and should be considered more seriously.
Gary Taubes, an author and journalist, in an interview with The BMJ, emphasized on the fact that a lot needs to be done to discourage the consumption of sugar and understand its role in developing obesity and diabetes. According to him, doctors have long suspected sugar as not only the source of calories, but also the fundamental reason of obesity and type II diabetes. However, till date, fat consumption and total energy balance alone have been considered in designing healthy diet and held responsible for causing obesity.
According to official estimates, one in 11 people in the U.S. and one in 16 people in UK has diabetes. Today, the disease is costing as much as 1 billion USD a day to the U.S. health care system.
In 2016, Director General of WHO defined the twin epidemics – obesity and diabetes – as ‘slow motion disaster’ and suggested that the probability of preventing the current ”bad situation” from getting ”much worse” was “virtually zero’”
Taubes asks the question that why the epidemics had gone unchecked despite all their efforts, and suggested that there might be some flaws in their understanding about the cause of the disease.
In the past decade, there has been an increased interest in the possibility of calorific sweeteners, especially sugar and high-fructose syrups; playing a major role in causing obesity and diabetes, which has compelled major public health organizations to strictly set limits to the consumption of these ‘free sugars.’
On this, Taubes opined that these limits are set while keeping the calorific value of sugar in mind rather than considering it as a potential causative agent for diabetes and obesity.
Metabolism of sugar is different from that of other carbohydrate-rich foods, and it is thought to have deleterious effects on the body regardless of its calorific content.
Taubes raised his concern about the safety of recommended upper limit for sugar consumption in a healthy diet for everyone. He further added that the universality of sugar-rich products also makes it difficult for the people to consume sugar in healthy amounts.
Considering the severity of obesity and diabetes as epidemics, Taubes finally called for an immediate need of coordinated research programs to gather enough knowledge on this subject.