In amongst the traditional diet news in the papers today, a new small scale US study is being quoted in a number of newspapers, including the Daily Mail under the headline Sugar found in biscuits and ice cream fuels obesity by making us HUNGRIER:
A sugar used in biscuits, ice cream and other processed foods is fuelling obesity by increasing people’s appetites, scientists have warned.
A new study has shown fructose – which is used to sweeten soft drinks and junk food – is more harmful than other types of sugar.
Although this isn’t exactly news – people such as Professor Robert Lustig whose video Sugar: The Bitter Truth has had over 3,000,000 views have been highlighting Fructose as a problem for a while – not without controversy – indeed just before Christmas he had an article with similar points published in Time magazine. A quick search of just one newspaper site and you can find how much has been written about just this one chemical in our diet.
But I could have picked any number of other chemicals, newspapers have been publishing articles on whether or not eating saturated fat is bad, for and against carbohydrates, the balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats in the diet, there are plenty of articles about those around too. In fact there is now even an eating disorder Orthorexia Nervosa which is the obsession with healthy eating.
This brings me onto an excellent little book I’ve been reading recently called In Defence of Food, written by journalist Michael Pollan and is not so much a diet book, but a book about diet. He starts from the point that numerous different cultures across the world existed on a variety of diets some high carbohydrate and low fat, others almost exclusively fat, but all with no discernible level of the so called western diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Members of those cultures when they switched to a more western diet invariably started to develop those western diseases. He also cites some limited research where members of those cultures switched back to their more traditional diets and the indicators for those western diseases fell away. He also cites oddities such as France whose diet would suggest soar-away problems with heart disease, but doesn’t have such a problem. His suggestion is that it doesn’t much matter exactly what diet you choose to follow – although he favours a more vegetarian diet, but that we need to be looking back at what these older cultures are doing with food as our decades of healthy eating and nutrition advice really isn’t working if our sky-rocketing levels of obesity are anything to go by…