Is Sugar Really Toxic?

A recent article condemns sugar as being toxic, but is this really true?

Credit: Flickr/Uwe Hermann

Should our consumption of sugar be regulated?

It seems like sugar is the new villain when it comes to weight loss and health

A recent article in Nature magazine argues that excessive added sugar in our food is to blame for a host of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The article was co-authored by public health experts Dr. Robert H. Lustig, Laura A. Schmidt and Claire D. Brindis.

Dr. Lustig has been very vocal about the dangers of excessive sugar consumption for a long time. But in this recent article he goes on to recommend a very controversial shift in public health policy. The authors want sugar to be regulated like tobacco and alcohol.

One form of sugar, fructose, is the most dangerous, the authors state, and any sweetener that contains this type of sugar is also lumped into this category. High fructose corn syrup, HFCS, is one such food additive.

But is this really true?

Sugar Alarmism

Alan Aragon, a nutritional expert, contends that views such as Dr. Lustig’s amount to alarmism about sugar. He wrote a very detailed article regarding this topic. Subsequently he and Dr. Lustig had a very colourful online debate on the subject.

Aragon’s viewpoint is that you cannot simply take one ingredient like fructose out of context from a person’s lifestyle.

Total calorie count and activity levels need to be part of the equation.

The Verdict on Sugar

I tend to agree with Aragon’s position.

While I don’t condone sitting around eating donuts and drinking soda, I think taking the extreme act of regulating sugar (specifically fructose) is an overreaction. We should keep reaffirming the message of the benefits of increased activity along with moderation in your diet.

This weekend is my birthday weekend and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be indulging in some delicious St. Andre cake without worrying about the sugar.