In March 2010 the BBC’s Becca Wilcox asked “Why are we so fat, and is it really all our own stupid fault?”
Becca Wilcox set out to find the real culprits behind Britain’s obesity epidemic, the secret feeders who make fat profits from ever-expanding waistlines.
The documentary highlighting some startling facts about sugar. Firstly, although the recommended daily allowance for refined sugar is 60g, many food companies give the sugar RDA figures on their packaging as a percentage of 90g, which includes the daily unrefined sugar allowance of 30g – even if all the sugar in the product is refined! For example, a product with 30g of refined sugar will often say “33% of recommended daily allowance” even though it contains 50% of the daily allowance in refined sugar.
Becca also looked at the sugar content of her daily diet, and was shocked to see that she consumed in the region of 160g of sugar per day, and she considers her diet to be healthy. Much of this sugar is in “healthy” foods such as low fat yogurt, bread and cereals.
An even more shocking revelation in the documentary was the diet advice given by the Sugar Bureau. The Sugar Bureau provides healthy eating advice, and even distributes this information to NHS doctors. On their website they still advise us that eating low fat foods is healthy, even if they are full of sugar:
Puddings, cakes, biscuits, cereal bars and confectionery all contain carbohydrate – but choose those with a lower fat content. Some lower fat examples include: arctic roll, sorbets, fruit yoghurt, trifle, rice pudding, currant buns, jaffa cakes, fig rolls, jelly beans, jelly babies and mints. Retrieved on 2nd March 2010 – http://www.sugarnutrition.org.uk/eating_for_health.html
Note the URL of that web page – “eating for health“.
Update: 5th October 2011 – the Sugar Bureau have now removed that page.
Now, Dr. Atkins made the connection between sugar and obesity (and all the health problems associated with it) back in 1992 and published his findings in his book Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution (from amazon.com). However, in the 18 years since the publication of his book, his diet revolution has been criticized continuously and now abandoned by most people. For those that are quick to criticize the Atkins approach, please ensure that you have read the entire book, and understood it, before commenting below. Most people do not look beyond the 2 week induction phase, and few understand the insulin response and the metabolic disadvantage created by eating a diet high in carbohydrates (sugars) and low in fat and protein.
Watching the documentary tonight made me think – has there been a conspiracy to trivialize the work of Dr. Atkins, and to promote the interested of the Sugar Bureau in the UK and the equivalent organizations in the USA? It seems that all the scientific and medical evidence supports the view that sugar is the problem in our society. Sugar makes us fat, sugar gives us heart disease, sugar kills. But still sugar is accepted, even promoted, whereas foods high in fat and protein are demonized.
The evidence still suggests that if you want to lose weight then you need to reduce sugar intake and increase exercise, creating an improved metabolic balance and killing your dependence and addiction to sugar. But still we hear advice telling us to eat low fat foods. In a society where soda companies and fast food outlets sponsor international sporting events, is there any end in sight to the obesity epidemic?