So, let’s start with our beliefs. We have inherited certain beliefs throughout our lives, some from our parents, some by our culture etc. And they will stay ingrained in our lives - especially with food. The problem occurs when these beliefs get challenged. Imagine someone saying that your mum’s special recipe (whatever it may be) isn’t healthy, even though since your childhood she told you it was very healthy. It’s almost madness that they will challenge what she has been saying all your life, right? It’s difficult to deal with this type of conflict because it is quite simply us being bias.
Now, here’s the part where Dr.Paul talks about the number one supervillain food – sugar. If we ask most of the Social Media Guru’s they would say that sugar should’ve been banned by now. So, sugar seems to be the cause of all evils on the planet as it makes us fat and makes us ill. Am I right in saying that this is what we think, right?
There’s a famous study by Surwit and colleagues in which they compared the effects of 2 hypo-calorific diets. What happened was, one group was told to eat 43% of their total calories coming from normal table sugar – table sugar! They were compared to other groups and the lowest had 4% of their total calories coming from table sugar. To be clear, all the groups had a slight calorie shortage, they were eating the same amount of calories, but the sugar intake was very different . This study showed that there was no significant difference between any of the groups. All the groups lost weight and body fat at similar amounts. Remember 43% of this groups diet was table sugar and they lost weight and had improved blood marker results. There are many similar studies, but this particular one was in an ‘in patient, in clinic setting’. Basically meaning that everything the person eats has been controlled and there aren’t any outside influences.
There are many factors beyond calories to losing weight. Even calories themselves are specific to individuals’ metabolism and even change as one loses weight. But to ignore calories is madness. They may not be the ONLY factor but they are clearly THE most important in weight loss.
To answer the question of ‘is sugar the main cause of obesity?’– it is not solely responsible for all bad diets. Current research trials that use common sugary stuff DO NOT support a unique relation to obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, risk factors for heart disease, or non alcoholic fatty liver disease. You’re probably thinking ‘great! I can have as many chocolate bars and sweets as I want’. No – just like with any other food, over-consumption is a huge problem.
Do you think sugar is addictive? You may get a lot of ‘clean’ eaters tell you that it is but there is little scientific evidence to support sugar addiction in humans. Yes, there are some arguments on this case linking sugary foods and having an emotional attachment to them. But there are studies from animal behaviour suggesting that addiction-like behaviours such as bingeing, occur irregularly. So, these behaviours likely arise from sporadic access to sweet tasting or highly palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar .
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- Surwit RS, et al. Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr;65(4):908-15
- Smith CF, et al. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite. 1999 Jun;32(3):295-305.
- Stewart TM, et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. 2002 Feb;38(1):39-44.
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. 2005.
- 2 Gibson SA. Dietary sugars intake and micronutrient adequacy: a systematic review of the evidence. Nutr Res Rev. 2007 Dec;20(2):121-31.