Ever hear the saying, “What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular?” When it comes to the hotly discussed obesity epidemic it’s important not to lose sight of facts that just make sense – even amid the popular diet-book-of-the-week craze and the vilification of certain foods or beverages.
Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, discusses the dangers of repeating history by going long on “popular” and short on “right” in a recent blog post on Huffington Post called “Fructose and the Follies of History.” In this post, Katz provides a look at what he calls the “‘sugar is poison, fructose is toxic' message that has made videos go viral and books fly off the shelves…” from a public health perspective. He writes:
“[S]ugar, clearly, is not poison. An excess of sugar in the body is harmful, certainly -- but so is an excess of oxygen, potassium, iron, water, or calcium. Too much of any of these can kill us -- but just like the glucose that floats in our blood, so can too little. …But that message … lacks the visceral impact and conspiracy-theory connotations of "sugar is poison," and thus would ill serve the cause of creating the next great fad. Time-honored truths and common sense win in the end, but almost never dazzle. They lack the pizzazz to go viral.”
Katz is no fan of our industry, yet he still points out the danger of making diet decisions based off of only one ingredient. Katz continues “… the fact that the message is wrong is not what concerns me most. It's the wrong we are apt to do with the message -- wrong that can set public health back a decade -- that keeps me up at night.”
We’ve been promised weight loss miracles by giving up one thing after another – red meat, fat, carbohydrates and now sugar. These messages that vilify certain ingredients, products or food groups Katz says come “with a price tag public health simply cannot afford to pay.”