104th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra2119871152629026 Tamil Nadu114978665711571 Delhi100823720883115 Gujarat36858263231967 Uttar Pradesh2770718761785 Telangana2390212703295 Karnataka234749849372 West Bengal2212614711757 Rajasthan2026315965459 Andhra Pradesh200198920239 Haryana1750413335276 Madhya Pradesh1528411579617 Bihar12140901497 Assam11737743414 Odisha9526648648 Jammu and Kashmir84295255132 Punjab64914494132 Kerala5623334128 Chhatisgarh3207257814 Uttarakhand3161258642 Jharkhand2815204520 Goa181310617 Tripura158012061 Manipur13897330 Himachal Pradesh107074610 Puducherry101148014 Nagaland5782280 Chandigarh4874016 Arunachal Pradesh269781 Mizoram191130 Sikkim125650 Meghalaya80431
Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 08 Jan 2018 Sugar could be funda ...

Sugar could be fundamental cause of obesity, diabetes epidemics

Published Jan 8, 2018, 2:53 pm IST
Updated Jan 8, 2018, 2:53 pm IST
In 2016, WHO described the twin epidemics as slow-motion disasters.
Sugar could be cause of obesity, diabetes epidemics. (Photo: Pixabay)
 Sugar could be cause of obesity, diabetes epidemics. (Photo: Pixabay)

Washington: Gary Taubes, journalist and author, argues that sugar could be a fundamental cause of the global obesity and diabetes epidemics, with detrimental effects on the human body.

Bringing the matter to the forefront, Taubes emphasises that "we must do more to discourage consumption while we improve our understanding of sugar's role" which according to him goes beyond just empty calories. Taubes further writes that it has long been suspected by the doctors that sugar is a fundamental cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. But until recently, the ideas of fat consumption and total energy balance have taken over the debate regarding obesity and nature of a healthy diet.


In 2016, the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes were described as 'slow-motion disasters' by Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO). She also suggested that the probability of preventing this 'bad situation' from getting 'much worse' was 'virtually zero'.

Official estimates state that one in every 11 people is affected by diabetes in the United States and one in every 16 people in the UK. The estimates also suggest that diabolical twins - obesity and diabetes - may cost US healthcare system as much as $1bn (£740m; €850m) a day. Taubes raises the question that "Why, despite all our best efforts, have these epidemics gone unchecked?" He adds that a simple reason is that our understanding of the root cause is fundamentally flawed.

Over the past decade, a renewed interest in the possibility that calorific sweeteners have major roles in causing obesity and diabetes have taken home in people's minds and therefore, major public health organizations are now recommending limited or no consumption of these 'free sugars'.

However, Taubes argues that the recommended usage only targets its calories rather than its potential for causing diseases. He asks "What if the problem is the sugar itself?". He states that sugar metabolises in a different manner than other carb-rich foods. The evidence that sugar has harmful qualities independent of its calories is still ambiguous. He states "If it is true, though, it changes how we must communicate the dangers of sugar consumption".

He warns that while restricting the amount of sugar consumption in a healthy diet is a good start "but we don't know if the level recommended is safe for everyone. It could be that for people who have obesity or diabetes, or both, even a little is too much. And the ubiquity of sugar-rich products may make it difficult for many people to maintain a healthy level of sugar consumption".

He concludes that given the scale of the obesity and diabetes epidemics, "then a concerted programme of research to establish reliable knowledge on this subject should be among our highest priorities. Meanwhile, we can acknowledge the uncertainties while still recommending strongly against consumption".

The research was published in The BMJ.