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British Medical Journal: The Dietary Advice On Added Sugar Is In Desperate Need of Emergency Surgery

Published on May 27, 2013,

There is a fascinating commentary in the BMJ (the journal of the British Medical Association) written by Aseem Malhotra, an interventional cardiology specialist registrar at a London hospital, who argues that the food industry has manipulated dietary advice on added sugars for profit and in the process created additional risk factors for obesity and diet-related disease. The doctor concludes by advising the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and the Department of Health to ‘act swiftly as the dietary advice on added sugar is in desperate need of emergency surgery’. Here are some extracts from the commentary in the BMJ…

British Medical Association

British Medical Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The food industry continues to adopt strategies to deny sugar’s role as a major causative factor in what now represents the greatest threat to our health worldwide: diet related disease. It took 50 years from the first publication (in the BMJ) linking smoking to lung cancer before the introduction of any effective legislation because Big Tobacco successfully adopted a strategy of denial, planting doubt, confusing the public, and even buying the loyalty of scientists, all at the cost of millions of lives. The same “corporate playbook” has been adopted by Big Food…

Another tactic that the food industry has effectively deployed to shift the responsibility for obesity on to the individual is exaggerating the emphasis on physical activity. Although it is difficult to deny the many health benefits of exercise, evidence from several studies in adults and children have revealed little if any change in physical activity levels over the past few decades, while the prevalence of obesity has rocketed…

Foods that we perceive as junk are only half the problem. In the United States, a third of added sugar consumption comes from sugar sweetened drinks and a sixth comes from food items such as chocolates, ice creams, and biscuits, but half comes from foods that one wouldn’t normally associate as having added sugar, such as ketchup, salad dressings, and bread. Just as in the UK and Europe, US food labels contain information on total sugars per serving, but do not differentiate between sugars naturally present and added sugar. (In the US there is no guideline daily amount for sugar as it is not regarded as a nutrient.) It is therefore extremely difficult for consumers to determine the amount of added sugars in foods and beverages…

It’s time for the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and the Department of Health to act swiftly as the dietary advice on added sugar is in desperate need of emergency surgery.

More at:  The dietary advice on added sugar needs emergency surgery

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