Processed sugar's weak, inane defenders

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The LA Times dropped into the sugar-toxicity discussion last week, clearly spurred by the attention that Dr. Robert Lustig is winning on the "yes, sugar is bad for you" side. But of course, journalists always strive to balance their inquiries with opposing views, and those are the comments I want to share with you.

First up is Andy Briscoe, president and chief executive of the Sugar Association, who says that Lustig, a doctor in clinical pediatrics, "doesn't understand the science." Oh, Andy, thank you for the laughs! As I observed a few days ago, who you gonna trust? The clinical researcher who sees a problem and speaks out about it, or the chief paid proponent of the sugar-manufacturing industry? Is it even close?

And second up is Joanne Slavin, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul: "Sugar isn't a poison — diet is more complicated than any one single villain," she is quoted as saying. But as I also pointed out a couple of days ago, neither Lustig nor anyone else boils down America's nutritional deficiencies to "anyone one single villain," so what use is that counter to what he and they *are* saying?!

I might add: If one wanted to pick one villain, one could do a lot worse than processed sugar since it is in so many products (salad dressing, lunch meats, sodas, cereals, French fries, etc.) include it. But no, they're not saying that removing processed sugar will solve everything. They're only saying that refined sugar, eaten as it is in the American diet, is unhealthy.

I saved best for last, the LA story's other Slavin comment, which it paraphrased: "She says that people who try to cut sugar from their lives could end up cutting out sugary-but-nutritious foods such as chocolate milk, fruit juices and many whole grain cereals."

Oh my goodness. No more chocolate milk? What will become of America's youth? No more juice, which by its definition is refined sugar? And no more whole grain cereals? I think she means, "no more sugary whole-grain cereals," which give with one hand (whole grains) while taking with the other (added processed sugar).

She can't really mean that taking the sugar out will stop people from eating whole-grain cereals, can she? To me, all three of her worst-case scenarios are daft.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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