Around the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century the Western lifestyle began to spread around the world. It was noticed that in the cultures where it was introduced it was followed by the Western diseases.

One of these researchers was Weston Price, and there is now a Weston A. Price Foundation in his honour that is based on his work. Its mission is,

to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated non-industrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.

(I have problems with the word ‘perfect’ but like the approach to diet.)

The question was: What is it about the Western lifestyle that is so bad for our health? Roughly speaking there was a poor diet and (lack of) exercise. Lack of exercise is being addressed (more of us are getting that 30 minutes a day) but diet is still contentious.

One of the disagreements in the diet wars is whether it is fat or sugar that is to blame. My guess is that it is more about sugar than fat.

However, this distinction is a little false. The junk food we eat is generally loaded with fat and sugar. Get rid of junk food, eat whole foods (the approach of the Weston A. Price foundation and many others) and you deal with both.

The book that has inclined me to think that it is sugar that is the main culprit in the Western diet is David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison Why Sugar Is Making Us Fat.

The title is a little misleading; it should really be called Why Fructose Is Making Us Fat. Table sugar, what we normally think of as sugar, is about 50% fructose. (Fructose is the sugar that occurs in fruit.) This is important because fructose has become the sugar of choice to add flavour by food manufacturers (this is especially the case in the US and Canada where high fructose corn syrup is overwhelming the sugar added by food manufacturers).

Why is fructose such a problem? Because it bypasses our appetite regulating mechanism and so we can eat it too excess without feeling full. If we eat the whole fruit this is not a problem – we feel full due to the fibre. If you’ve been amazed that you can eat through a whole bag of lollies without feeling full (as I have) you will most likely find that they are high in fructose – or even that this is the only sugar in them.

David also details the research that links sugar intake to cholesterol. This was news to me and a whole part of the story that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.

All of this amounts to basically eliminating sugar from your diet. When David did this he began to lose weight and steadily kept doing so until he reached his healthy weight range. He has maintained this weight consistently since then.

David is by training a lawyer and it shows. Lawyers are trained to collect the evidence and present a case on this basis. This book does that brilliantly. The evidence used is all from ‘respectable’ scientific journals (nothing ‘fringe’) and it is clearly presented. This is a well written and readable book, thoroughly grounded in the evidence. I recommend it highly.

If you like this post you might also like:
Obesity, Fat and Sugar
Change the World (one bite at a time)
A Return to Nourishment

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4 Comments to “Why Sugar Is Making Us Fat”

  1. I kind of knew this already – that sugar makes me fat – but not as clearly as this. Especially about fructose. This is very useful as I’m trying to shift a few extra kilos and it’s not moving. Sugar could just be the answer!

  2. Evan says:

    Hi Ian. Let me know how it goes. Evan

  3. As I recall it also rapidly raises our blood sugar, which triggers insulin to counteract it. Usually that means our blood sugar drops too much and we have to eat again to raise it so we don’t feel so dragged out. That doesn’t work for me, so I don’t eat much sugar.

  4. Evan says:

    This is my understanding too. It makes it easy to get ‘addicted’ to the stuff. I can say that it only takes a few weeks for our palate to adjust and we lose the taste for excessively sweet things (which we are surrounded with). Thanks for your comment Jean.

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