Food and Behaviour Research

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3 June 2014 - Time - How Sugar Went From a Condiment to a Diet Staple

More and more Americans' meals resemble dessert, and Congress is to blame for our collective national stomachache

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

Robert H. Lustig, M.D., M.S.L. is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and the President of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the global food supply, and eradicating type 2 diabetes in children. He is the author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shoppers Guide, and The Fat Chance Cookbook

Professor Robert Lustig was speaking at our FAB research events in London in July 2014 :

10 July 2014 - Sugar, Fat, Food and Addiction: New Approaches to the Public Health Crisis

and at two of our FAB research events in 2013:

12 March 2013 - FAB EVENT - London - SUGAR, FAT AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS - A Symposium with Professor Robert Lustig MD

13 March 2013 - FAB EVENT - Oxford - SUGAR AND THE BRAIN: FOOD CHOICE, ADDICTION AND THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS - A Symposium with Professor Robert Lustig MD

 


For more recent news regarding sugar and Professor Robert Lustig please see:

11th May 2014 - The Guardian - Sugar is the real enemy, not fat itself, says film targeting obesity
School cafeterias have been under siege for three decades, ever since Ronald Reagan declared ketchup to be a vegetable. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed by Congress in 2010 raised the national per-pupil lunch expenditure from $2.80 to $2.86. But this increase wasn’t enough to allow school cafeterias to subsist on their own—much less cover the cost of a carrot. Instead of upping the amount, last week Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations decided to gut their own the ridiculously low bar by allowing schools to “opt-out” of the federal nutrition standards. This will no doubt start to roll back the nutrition standards for all schools, which Congress expects will culminate in the No Hungry Kids Act, currently winding its way through the House. We might as well call this the “Dessert for Lunch Act.”

Why did Congress engage in this schizophrenic exercise? Because the American Legislative and Exchange Council, a lobbying group for the food and drug industries, makes campaign contributions to 338 of 535 members of Congress. The documentary movie Fed Up (full disclosure: I’m in it) is an exposé of how the food industry has undermined the American diet to foment a pandemic of obesity and diabetes, all in the name of profit—and how the U.S. Congress has aided and abetted the industry at every turn. As an example,Congress one-upped Reagan by declaring that pizza is now a vegetable.

But dessert for lunch (and breakfast) has ramifications. We’ve already witnessed the medical devastation driven by our current sugar glut. In 1977, the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, led by Senator George McGovern, issued the first dietary recommendations for Americans, which espoused the low-fat hypothesis. But the food tasted like cardboard; so the low-fat diet inadvertently begat a high-sugar diet. Since then, childhood obesity rates have increased from 5% to 30%, children developed type 2 diabetes (never seen before) and doctors discovered a new entity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, now prevalent in one-seventh of all American children. At the same time, academic test scores fell, behavior problems and the need for medication increased, and spending on health care rose from 9.0% of our GDP in 1980 to 17.2% today. More people are shuttled through the medical system every day, and 75% percent of healthcare dollars are spent on preventable diseases that are either caused by or related to sugar consumption. If we don’t acknowledge and aggressively address the inherent connection between “all dessert, all the time” and the medical, social and economic devolution we currently face, America will find itself fat, stupid, and broke.