Posted on January 20, 2014 · Posted in News

 It was a busy week in the media with many news reports in connection with National Obesity Week.  With all the media hype about obesity I felt the real issues were overshadowed by the sugar debate.  On one side of the debate is the new health lobby “Action on Sugar” which claims that sugar is the new tobacco.  They are pitted against the food industry. In the middle are the scientists, the panel of experts advising the government on the health impact of sugar consumption.  There is little evidence that specifically attributes sugar to Type 2 diabetes directly.  There is evidence to show the causal effects of overconsumption of sugar to weight gain which causes Type 2 diabetes. Let it be said, sugar and many of those other delights ending in “-ose” are empty calories.  As Ian MacDonald, professor of metabolic phsiology at Nottingham University has said sucrose and fructose are not biochemically dangerous however they are easy to overcomsume.  There is little other nutritional value in sugar or its derivatives.  If we can adapt our taste buds to needing less sugar then we would all be healthier.  This is harder said than done as there is sugar everywhere.

As a dietitian we teach the basics of a balanced diet using the Eat Well plate.  This model encourages us to base our meals around fruit and vegetables, and wholegrain carbohydrates such as bread, rice, and potatoes.  Have smaller amounts of milk and dairy food for calcium, and  meat, fish and pulses for protein.  The smallest food group is fatty and sugary foods.  This group is in a balanced diet, not for energy or fat as many propose.  It is there because most of us like a treat.  Daily consumption in one way or another is not a treat. 

I am not a fan of demonising one aspect of the diet ie sugar and passing blame onto the food industry and scientists.  It will be a long time before our environment is going to be conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  I am neither expecting that to happen anytime soon nor waiting for it.  There would also be a public outcry about being told by government what we can and cannot eat!   For most of us we are personally responsible for our food choices and that of our children.  I try to encourage personal responsibility and small lifestyle changes within the environment we live in.   Expect slip ups and enjoy those occasional treats!



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