In his defence of a recent attack on the food industry by NHS chief Mr Stevens to cut sugar or face regulation, Ian Wright director general of the food and Drink Federation claimed that there was no link between sugar intake and type 2 diabetes, heart health or cancer. He made it clear that it is the calories in sugar which can lead to weight gain and not any peculiar property of sugar. I think I can safely speak on behalf of my profession in hotly disputing this claim. There are three points I would like to make here:
- Diabetes is a symptom of high blood sugar
It is important to understand that diabetes is not so much an illness but a symptom and it is a symptom of high blood sugar. Where does that sugar come from? the diet, and it doesn’t matter a jot how many calories the sugar contains, too much of it can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. Calorie for calorie fat and protein simply will not have this effect and I would argue that this is very much a peculiar property of sugar.
- Heart disease is one of the complications of diabetes
I’ve said that diabetes is not an illness in itself. Poorly controlled diabetes leads to many, ’Complication of diabetes,’ one of those complications being heart disease. In fact by the time someone is diagnosed with diabetes it is very unlikely that heart health is not already starting to be a problem. One of the functions of insulin is to clear the blood of sugar for the very reason that too much sugar in the blood steam is damaging to out arteries.
- You don’t have to be overweight to get Type 2 Diabetes
There is an assumption here too that diabetes and heart disease happen directly as a result of being overweight. Although being overweight is undoubtedly a huge risk factor for both diabetes and heart disease it is also important to note that it is perfectly possible for slim people to get Type 2 diabetes and it is becoming more and more prevalent in the young as a result of too much sugar in the diet. It is possible to be thin on the outside and fat on the inside so to speak.
I would very strongly argue that it is not the calories per se in sugar which lead to weight gain and ill health but the very peculiar properties of sugar!