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The Case Against Sugar
Cover of The Case Against Sugar
The Case Against Sugar
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From the best-selling author of Why We Get Fat, a groundbreaking, eye-opening exposé that makes the convincing case that sugar is the tobacco of the new millennium: backed by powerful lobbies, entrenched in our lives, and making us very sick.
Among Americans, diabetes is more prevalent today than ever; obesity is at epidemic proportions; nearly 10% of children are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And sugar is at the root of these, and other, critical society-wide, health-related problems. With his signature command of both science and straight talk, Gary Taubes delves into Americans' history with sugar: its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes, the contemporary overuse of high-fructose corn syrup. He explains what research has shown about our addiction to sweets. He clarifies the arguments against sugar, corrects misconceptions about the relationship between sugar and weight loss; and provides the perspective necessary to make informed decisions about sugar as individuals and as a society.
From the Hardcover edition.
From the best-selling author of Why We Get Fat, a groundbreaking, eye-opening exposé that makes the convincing case that sugar is the tobacco of the new millennium: backed by powerful lobbies, entrenched in our lives, and making us very sick.
Among Americans, diabetes is more prevalent today than ever; obesity is at epidemic proportions; nearly 10% of children are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And sugar is at the root of these, and other, critical society-wide, health-related problems. With his signature command of both science and straight talk, Gary Taubes delves into Americans' history with sugar: its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes, the contemporary overuse of high-fructose corn syrup. He explains what research has shown about our addiction to sweets. He clarifies the arguments against sugar, corrects misconceptions about the relationship between sugar and weight loss; and provides the perspective necessary to make informed decisions about sugar as individuals and as a society.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book INTRODUCTION

    WHY DIABETES?

    "Mary H—an unmarried woman, twenty-six years of age, came to the Out Patient Department of the Massachusetts General Hospital on August 2, 1893. She said her mouth was dry, that she was "drink- ing water all the time" and was compelled to rise three to four times each night to pass her urine. She felt "weak and tired." Her appetite was variable; the bowels constipated and she had a dizzy headache. Belching of gas, a tight feeling in the abdomen, and a "burning" in the stomach followed her meals. She was short of breath." —Elliott Joslin's diabetes "case no. 1," as recorded in the case notes of his clinic.

    Elliott Joslin was a medical student at Harvard in the summer of 1893, working as a clinical clerk at Massachusetts General Hos- pital, when he documented his rst consultation with a diabetic
    patient. He was still a good three decades removed from becom- ing the most in uential diabetes specialist of the twentieth century. The patient was Mary Higgins, a young immigrant who had arrived from Ireland ve years previously and had been working as a domestic in a Boston suburb. She had "a severe form of diabetes mellitus," Joslin noted, and her kidneys were already "succumbing to the strain put upon them" by the disease.

    Joslin's interest in diabetes dated to his undergraduate days at Yale, but it may have been Higgins who catalyzed his obsession. Over the next ve years, Joslin and Reginald Fitz, a renowned Har- vard pathologist, would comb through the "hundreds of volumes" of handwritten case notes of the Massachusetts General Hospital, looking for information that might shed light on the cause of the disease and perhaps suggest how to treat it. Joslin would travel twice to Europe, visiting medical centers in Germany and Austria, to learn from the most in uential diabetes experts of the era.
    In 1898, the same year Joslin established his private practice to specialize in the treatment of diabetics, he and Fitz presented their analysis of the Mass General case notes at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association in Denver. They had exam- ined the record of every patient treated at the hospital since 1824. What they saw, although they didn't recognize it at the time, was the beginning of an epidemic.

    Among the forty-eight thousand patients treated in that time period, a year shy of three-quarters of a century, a total of 172 had been diagnosed with diabetes. These patients represented only 0.3 percent of all cases at Mass General, but Joslin and Fitz detected a clear trend in the admissions: the number of patients with diabetes and the percentage of patients with diabetes had both been increasing steadily. As many diabetics were admitted to Mass General in the thirteen years after 1885 as in the sixty-one years prior. Joslin and Fitz considered several explanations, but they rejected the possibility that the disease itself was becoming more common. Instead, they attributed the increase in diabetic patients to a "wholesome tendency of diabetics to place themselves under careful medical supervision." It wasn't that more Bosto- nians were succumbing to diabetes year to year, they said, but that a greater proportion of those who did were taking themselves off to the hospital for treatment.

    By January 1921, when Joslin published an article about his clinical experience with diabetes for The Journal of the American Medical Association, his opinion had changed considerably. He was no longer talking about the wholesome tendencies of diabetics to seek medical help, but was using the word "epidemic" to describe what he was witnessing. "On the broad street of a certain peaceful...
About the Author-
  • GARY TAUBES is the author of Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories. He is a former staff writer for Discover and a correspondent for the journal Science. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Esquire, and has been included in numerous "Best of" anthologies, including The Best of the Best American Science Writing (2010). He has received three Science in Society Journalism Awards from the National Association of Science Writers. He is the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research and a co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI). He lives in Oakland, California.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 19, 2016
    The latest offering from health journalist Taubes (Why We Get Fat) prosecutes the case against sugar, in particular sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. His hypothesis is that “sugar is the dietary trigger of obesity and diabetes” and of related illnesses like heart disease. The author traces the history of sugar, delves into its biochemistry, explores false starts in the research into sugar’s health effects, and examines current developments in knowledge of chemistry and metabolism to bring home his point. Recognizing that condemning sugar is “the nutritional equivalent of stealing Christmas,” Taubes begins with an examination of whether sugar is addictive. (Short answer—yes, and it’s in cigarettes!) Fittingly, he ends with a discussion of how little is too much. (Short answer—probably very little.) Reiterating a point he makes throughout about the limits of research, the author concludes that “the evidence against sugar is not definitive, compelling though I may personally find it to be.” His study is itself compelling, as well as meticulously explained and researched. Readers will hate to love this book, since it will cause them to thoroughly rethink the place of sugar in their diets. Agent: Kris Dahl, ICM.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2016
    The award-winning journalist once again takes up the cudgel in defense of health.In his latest book, Taubes (Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, 2010, etc.) makes the provocative contention that sugar, rather than fat, is the primary cause of obesity and a major culprit in a spectrum of chronic diseases. While it is now recognized that a drastic increase in the consumption of sugar and refined starches correlates to a dramatic rise of obesity in populations that adopt a Western diet, the author argues that nutritionists have yet to pinpoint its significance. He points out that obesity is a marker for the overconsumption of carbohydrates responsible for the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The problem, he writes, is not the number but the kind of calories consumed--nor is it necessarily a diet high in saturated fats. Taubes compares sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup to "toxins...that do their damage over years and decades, and perhaps even from generation to generation." Furthermore, diabetics and obese people are "more likely to have fatty liver disease" as well as other degenerative diseases due to elevated carbohydrate intake. For this reason, Taubes is dismissive of advice (from Michael Pollan, among others) that urges an across-the-board reduction in the total amount of calories we consume. The author buttresses his provocative contention with population studies showing the increase of chronic disease in populations that subsist on a Western diet. An example is the increase since 1960 of chronic disease among the indigenous population of a New Zealand protectorate that substituted a carbohydrate-rich diet for the saturated fats they formerly consumed. Taubes makes a convincing, well-documented case against the modern carbohydrate-rich diet. Limiting their intake is an important factor in longevity, not merely as a matter of weight control. An important book that merits--and will likely receive--broad circulation and discussion.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2016
    Okay, it tastes great, but sugar is making us very sick: diabetes and obesity are scarily rampant, and nearly ten percent of children are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, all traceable to that sweet, sweet stuff. Award-winning science and health journalist Taubes tracks America's relationship with sugar, from its use as an additive (even in cigarettes) to the current overabundance of high-fructose corn syrup, and helps us understand how to make better decisions regarding sugar as individuals and as a nation.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Dan Barber, The New York Times "Taubes's writing is both inflammatory and copiously researched. It is also well timed... Hard-charging (and I'll add game-changing)."
  • Eugenia Bone, The Wall Street Journal "[A] blitz of a book... Mr. Taubes's argument is so persuasive that, after reading The Case Against Sugar, this functioning chocoholic cut out the Snacking Bark and stopped eating cakes and white bread... The Case Against Sugar should be a powerful weapon against future misinformation."
  • The Economist "Compelling... Perhaps at long last, sugar is getting its just desserts."
  • The Atlantic "Taubes builds his case through lawyerly layering of rich detail... Extraordinary and refreshing."
  • Outside "[The Case Against Sugar] should be required reading if only to understand the scope, power, and impact that Big Sugar has had on America's health--or, perhaps more accurately, sickness."
  • Booklist, starred review "Staggering... Taubes's brilliant and accessible science writing has won him many fans."
  • Library Journal "[Taubes] delivers another convincing book... Fascinating and illuminating."
  • Publishers Weekly "[Taubes's work is] compelling, as well as meticulously explained and researched. Readers will hate to love this book, since it will cause them to thoroughly rethink the place of sugar in their diets."
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