Eating too much is bad for you. That’s well known. But what more and more studies are showing is that sugar specifically is terrible.
In a NYTimes opinion piece, Mark Bittman writes (emphasis mine):
A study published in the 27 February issue of the journal PLoS One links increased consumption of sugar with increased rates of [type 2] diabetes by examining the data on sugar availability and the rate of [t2] diabetes in 175 countries over the past decade. And after accounting for many other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates independent of rates of obesity.
In other words and to oversimplify, according to this study, obesity itself doesn’t cause “adult onset” diabetes, the version that you give yourself: sugar does.*
A fairly bold claim. But people make claims like this all the time – what makes this different?
The study demonstrates this with the same level of confidence that linked cigarettes and lung cancer in the 1960s… “You could not enact a real-world study that would be more conclusive than this one.”
Ouch. But it gets worse. David DiSalvo wrote in Forbes:
Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, depression – all have been linked in recent research to the over-consumption of sugar.
[…]Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything.
[…]Research has also linked low BDNF levels to depression and dementia. It’s possible that low BDNF may turn out to be the smoking gun in these and other diseases, like Alzheimer’s… what seems clear in any case is that a reduced level of BDNF is bad news for our brains, and chronic sugar consumption is one of the worst inhibitory culprits.
So, eating too much sugar is directly linked to type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia and a host of other problems. It also highlights something missing in the “calories in < calories out” weight loss model that has been preached for decades. Calories are not equal. We’re not engines; although 1 calorie will give off the same amount of energy regardless of where it was obtained, the source of that energy can have vastly different impacts on your body and your health.
*Note: It has been rightly pointed out that I didn’t distinguish between type 1 and type 2 (t2) diabetes, which I have now corrected. Type 2 diabetes does have some genetic predisposition – not all people who trigger t2 diabetes are overweight or have poor diets.back