Sugar manufacturer says, It's not *all* our fault

I’ve visited this neighborhood before, but upon invitation from AB Sugar, I’m returning.

An article at carries AB’s contention that it’s unfair to single out sugar as a leading culprit in the obesity crisis.

Major sugar producer AB Sugar approached FoodNavigator “to restore a sense of balance to the debate”, pointing out that sugar consumption – in the UK at least – has fallen over the past decade, even as obesity rates have continued to climb.

It’s not always a good indicator of independent information to learn that the story originated with the main source, but fine, FoodNavigator’s purpose is to cover the industry.

The neighborhood of my opening reference, though, is when a company bases its defense on half-truths or pale justifications — which to me is the best evidence that it has nothing stronger to put forward.

The example here comes from AB Sugar’s head of food science, Julian Cooper:

”There are too many calories being consumed, rather than just sugar per se.”

Well, yes, but that’s the “well-he-did-it-too” defense. No one says sugar is the only substance at fault, but that doesn’t make sugar any less injurious to public health. And then:

He and [AB Sugar communications manager Sharon] Fisher also both urged caution around reformulating to replace sugar, saying that even though sugar can be replaced, in some high fat foods, the total caloric content can actually go up.

Again: sure. That can happen, but it’s even less persuasive: Just because an alternative’s calories might go up doesn’t make sugar any better or safer. The obvious public-health goal is to make something healthier, not only get rid of sugar. But that goal will reduce sugar anyway.

Meanwhile, it’s that sort of thinking that got us into the sugar fix in the first place. In the ‘70s, fat was the declared enemy, so manufacturers starting producing low- and no-fat products. And what did they do to retain palatability? Threw in tons of sugar.

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