It may be the same in your country. Right now Australia has been subjected to a number of “look-at-me, look-at-me” people jumping onto the media proclaiming that sugar is toxic and the cause of obesity, heart disease and a list of attention-grabbing conditions. Not much different to the arguments we heard before color TV.

It’s not science, nor is it logic

Naturally the media wants a human interest angle so they track down someone who chugged down lots of sugar and now has cut out sugar and they feel better.

Conclusion: sugar is toxic.

Now if you used to drink lots of soft drink and ate plenty of cakes, biscuits/cookies, pastries, ice cream, confectionery and cut them out, yes, there is a good chance you feel better. There is also a good chance that you will have replaced all the sugar-containing foods with fruit, nuts, vegetables and other foods laden with essential nutrients. You feel better because you are eating better.

On the weekend, with deep pain, I watched a 60 Minutes story on sugar. Main interviewee? An ex-fashion editor! You know, the one with years of published research in nutrition. From what I could gather, she left her high-pressure job, went to live in the country, bought a push bike, chose to improve her diet and felt better. Obvious logical scientific conclusion: sugar is toxic.

Even the kids thought that one was funny. Always remember, when you cut out an aspect of your diet, you must replace it with something and that something is usually of better nutritional quality than what you have deleted.


Sugar, as in table sugar or cane sugar, is a carbohydrate. It is a molecule of fructose joined to a molecule of glucose. Some are claiming/hoping that it is fructose that is making everyone fat. A systematic review and meta-analysis by some seriously respected scientists who checked all the published data says: “Fructose does not seem to cause weight gain when it is substituted for other carbohydrates in diets providing similar calories.” In other words, fructose per se doesn’t have an independent ability to make you gain weight. They point out that fructose only causes weight gain when, like any sugar, it is eaten in excess of your kJ/Calorie needs. That is, you gain weight when you eat too much.

The reviewers finally say: “Weight gain seems to be due to the extra calories that are characteristic of high-fructose diets and not due to the fructose itself.” Now that is going to upset a few pet theories and self-promotion programs. Nah, it won’t actually because when you have a pet theory it is quite easy to ignore facts that spoil your story, and weak humans are unable to change their mind or correct an opinion.

What does it all mean?

It is quite simple really. Just don’t eat too much sugar or sugar-laden foods, while eating plenty of minimally processed foods like fruit and vegetables. How’s that for sensational? You are right, it’s not an exciting message at all. Logic, science and balance have no place in current affairs programs. They barely get noticed in other circles either.

Ok, here’s another idea: eating too many Calories makes you fat! Nope, way too factual. Let me think about it. I’m sure there has to be something we can blame, just as long as we don’t suggest that being overweight is because we eat too many kJs and exercise too little.

Last Reviewed 01/Mar/2014

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Glenn is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with 32 years in clinical and public health nutrition, including 10 years as consultant dietitian to the National Heart Foundation and is owner of the nutrition consultancy company, Nutrition Impact Pty Ltd.

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