When talking about heart health and weight loss, two words come up again and again: sugar and fat. With a global obesity crisis of approximately one in 3 adults classified as overweight, so much debate around these two so-called evils isn’t surprising. But, are they both really so evil? And when did this debate begin?
Fatter And Sicker
Health experts started raising concerns about sugar as early as the 1970s. At the time, scientists were racing to find answers as to why people seemed to be getting fatter and sicker. Fat was declared to be the enemy, and the food industry of the day saw a great opportunity to introduce a range of (apparently) healthy, “low fat foods”.
“Pure, White And Deadly”
Amid this new craze Professor John Yudkin, from the University of London’s Queen Elizabeth College, had been doing a few of his own experiments and, instead of laying the blame at the door of fat, he found a much clearer link between the rise in heart disease and a rise in the consumption of sugar. He put his findings in a book called “Pure, White and Deadly”, where he laid out the potential health implications of following a diet high in sugar.
There was a backlash, and it came fast: Yudkin’s work was described as “science fiction” by the World Sugar Research Organisation (no surprise there), with them accusing him of basing his work on emotion instead of fact.
Side-lined by academic circles and removed from conference lists, the research that Yudkin wanted to publish regarding the dangers of sugar never made it. As it was intended to, the threat of being shunned by the scientific community intimidated other scientists who were investigating sugar (and who’d arrived at similar findings) into silence.
Fast forward to 2009: led by doctors from Australia and the US, the current “sugar is toxic” campaign has started gaining momentum and, after reading Yudkin’s original book, they realise what Professor Yudkin had been on to. As a result, the previously out-of-print book was recalled, re-printed and it’s even been converted to electronic form!
Side-lined Science Affected Health Of Millions
There are a growing number of scientists who believe that sugar’s the cause of several chronic and common illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and, of course, diabetes. According to experts in the field, “science took a disastrous detour in ignoring Yudkin. It was to the detriment of the health of millions.”
Yudkin passed away in 1995, before his revolutionary work was recognised – and long before he could say: “I told you so”.
Joanne Hart, May 2014