Everything is fine in moderation, right?
Nope, says Gary Taubes, especially when it comes to sugar.
Taubes, an investigative journalist who penned 2007’s seminal Good Calories, Bad Calories and 2010’s Why We Get Fat, has a new book out today called The Case Against Sugar that makes the case that sugar is the fundamental cause of most chronic diseases — diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, you name it.
The average Americans consumes more than 130 pounds of sugar a year, which many experts simply dismiss as “empty calories.” Yes, sugar is devoid of any nutrition, says Taubes, but it’s also a dangerous toxin that impacts hormones and metabolism and sets the stage for disease. Taubes says that sugar is responsible for more premature deaths than tobacco.
“The Case Against Sugar is the book every educated American should read if they want to be informed about the risks of consuming added sugars and high fructose corn syrup,” Taubes says. “It does for the relationship between refined sugars and diabetes what the legendary 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health did for cigarettes and lung cancer.”
Beyond all of that, sugar is incredibly addictive — even to Taubes, who is well aware of its pitfalls — and so the only answer, he says, is to completely avoid it.
“Sugar is like heroin to me,” he recently told Men’s Journal. “I’m never satisfied with a sweet. I could eat until I get sick.”
In The Case Against Sugar, Taubes not only details how sugar makes us sick, he also reveals the bad science and nefarious dealings that have allowed the sugar industry to pull the wool over our eyes. In the 1960s and 1970s, Taubes says, Big Sugar “used PR tactics pioneered by the tobacco industry to focus the research and public health attention on dietary fat and exonerate sugar in the process—and its influence on scientific findings and our health.”
No previous book has discussed the history of the health controversy and of sugar and nutrition science itself, notes Taubes, and as he makes clear in his “Author’s Note,” his goal is no less than to blow the lid off of a substance that he says has traditionally been treated as “a source of harmless pleasure”:
The purpose of this book is to present the case against sugar— both sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup—as the principal cause of the chronic diseases that are most likely to kill us, or at least accelerate our demise, in the twenty-first century. Its goal is to explain why these sugars are the most likely suspects, and how we arrived at the current situation: a third of all adults are obese, two-thirds overweight, almost one in seven is diabetic, and one in four to five will die of cancer; yet the prime suspects for the dietary trigger of these conditions have been, until the last decade, treated as little worse than a source of harmless pleasure.
If this were a criminal case, The Case Against Sugar would be the argument for the prosecution.
In short, if you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution, you might want to think of giving up sugar — for good. At the very least, read this book.