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  • Writer's pictureJohn Carlow

Buns don't kill people, people do! (or Which is worse: Saturated Fat or Refined Sugar?)

This debate has been skewed for decades by propaganda produced by lobbyists for the sugar industry in America.


For example, "Big Sugar" paid Harvard scientists to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by them, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimised the link between sugar and heart health and blamed saturated fat for heart disease.


The makers of butter and margarine also had their own pseudo-scientific bun fight (He he!) in the states and so the debate on whether saturated fats contribute more to heart disease than unsaturated fats rages on with studies piling up evidence (some more scientifically credible than others) on both sides of the argument. The fact that many people fail to consider the role of sugar in heart health at all means that the sugar industry have been extremely successful in influencing public opinion!


One result of 50 or 60 years of bad press against saturated fat rich foods like butter is that the food industry has been able to grow fat (please excuse my food puns!) by creating low fat (so-called) diet, or light/lite, foods which are usually loaded with salt and sugar to make them taste better, often making them less healthy and sometimes even higher in calories than their full fat versions. 


Similarly, the cholesterol theory of cardiovascular disease is thought to have been given undue credence due to studies published by scientists in the pay of the food industry and as a result "cholesterol lowering" yogurt drinks and margarine have been making someone very rich while normal people have been shying away from the humble and, by and large harmless, chicken egg for fear it will literally kill them.


In the present day the press is increasingly reporting on a global obesity epidemic which is widely thought to have been as the direct result of people consuming too much refined sugar so the truth is coming out at last. It's only a shame that so many people had to get type 2 diabetes beforehand.


So the bottom line? Science has been hijacked for the nefarious ends of people who want to make a lot of money out of their products and no one has really been in the picture for 50 years, least of all governments who in some countries are directly lobbied by the food industry.


In reality, a calorie is a calorie. If you consume too many or burn too few off, no matter their source, you will gain weight. Consuming too much saturate fat or refined sugar will have health consequences. Neither nutrient can take the blame for all our health woes.


In answer to the question above, neither is the enemy. The enemy is unscrupulous manufacturers who want you to buy their products and are not above creating questionable scientific studies to influence your purchasing decisions.

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