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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ignore lunatic lifestyle gurus. Sugar’s not the new heroin

Sugar-shaming is not just about sugar. It’s about our wider relationship with food

A mother collects her child from a southside Dublin birthday party. She asks about the party and what they all had to eat.

“McDonald’s!” replies the child. The mother drives straight to St Vincent’s hospital to see if she can get her child’s stomach pumped …

It’s an urban myth (though I’m not so sure myself) but when Irish parents are getting piously judgmental letters from schools about the sugar content of their children’s packed lunches and with sugar now being routinely referred to as “the new heroin” (albeit by those whose only qualifications appear to be shiny hair and an Instagram account), this new demonisation of sugar is quickly becoming the moral panic du jour.

Any amount of borderline-intelligence “media personalities” advocating a sugar-free diet coupled with the number of “Sugar is Evil and Will Make You Fat and Horrible”-style books currently clogging up the publishing cycle not just make a mockery of the science of nutrition but, worse, are spreading panic and neurosis among those looking for sensible dietary advice in a nutrition world populated by freaks and fundamentalists.

Since the publication of John Yudkin’s groundbreaking work Pure, White and Deadly (The Problem of Sugar) in 1972 we have been all too aware of the serious medical/lifestyle problems associated with overconsumption of sugar. The key word here being “overconsumption”.

But this new puritanical proscribing of sugar as a “poison” – the complete elimination of which will lead to us all becoming shiny, happy people – crucially comes not from the scientific/medical world but from lunatic, self-appointed lifestyle gurus.


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