Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Dr. Robert Lustig, author of ‘Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar’, will give evidence to MP’s at the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood Tomorrow (9 July 2014). This purpose of this group is to develop practical policies to reduce the scale of childhood obesity by engaging with interested parties and experts, encouraging them to act together to find solutions.


I recently watched the following Youtube video as part of the FutureLearn Obesity course that has so far had over 4 million hits:  Youtube clip

In the video Professor Lustig outlines that there is a hormone in your stomach called ‘ghrelin’, which is the hunger hormone.

When your stomach is empty, ghrelin goes up, and tells your brain, its time to eat.

Then you eat, ghrelin goes down, and so hunger goes away.

But, when you consume sugar, fructose does not get registered by the brain as you having eaten. Ghrelin doesn’t change. You stay hungry.

Interestingly Professor Lustig  was interviewed on Channel 4 News today and said:

  • We are consuming double or triple the amount of sugar our bodies can metabolise.
  • When fat is taken out of food such as yogurt, deserts and salad dressings, it is replaced by sugar, to make it more palatable.
  • Low fat / reduced calorie food is dangerous, we might as well put a scull and crossbones on it.
  • The obesity epidemic could be solved if people ate real food that doesn’t have a label on it.
  • He was in favour of a ‘sugar tax’ on the basis that anything we can do to reduce the amount of sugar being consumed is a good idea.

I gained an insight into the food industries stance on this debate at an on-line seminar, (Obesity and Health: the big fat, sugar and salt debate, publicised by the Nutrition Society), that I attended on 3rd July 2014. Here’s a snapshot!

  • Barbara Gallani the Director of regulatory, science and heath, Food and Drink Federation defended the food industry and the efforts they have put into calorie reduction.
  • Professor Graham MacGregor, (Professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine) suggested that the food industry was at the route cause of obesity and called for the food industry to reformulate fast food to make it healthier. He went on to say that in his view the Governments ‘Responsibility Deal’, launched in March 2011 aimed at encouraging businesses and influential organisations to work collaboratively to improve public health, was a dead duck in the water!

As a nutrition student I would love to be an observer at the All Party Parliamentary Group tomorrow and look forward to hearing more about this fascinating debate as it rages on.







FutureLearn – Obesity: Causes and consequences

Although I’ve finished University for the summer I have just started a 4 week on-line course focusing on ‘Obesity: Causes and Consequences’.   I didn’t know what to expect but already I’m enthralled.

Look for this image on the FutureLearn website

Look for this image on the FutureLearn website








The course is free and is being run by the University of Reading. It is being hosted by FutureLearn and is very interactive with videos, links to journal articles, polls and case studies. Course participants are from a wide range of backgrounds and are encouraged to interact with each other and share their views by posting comments on-line.

The driver for this particular course is the global obesity epidemic and the concern that as the world gets fatter, many aspects of day to day life are being impacted. I found out about it via the Nutrition Society Website but you can go direct to FutureLearn and there are lots of other free courses on offer.

In the first session some really good journal articles have been recommended.  One explored negative stereotypes about obesity from a health professionals perspective and a British Medical Journal (2013) article highlighted some interesting data, including:

  • More than two thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese.
  • Prevalence of obesity in US adults is leveling out after 3 decades of big rises.
  • Although the rates have started to level the long term effects of obesity are a major cause for concern.
  • The study found that obesity rates were high (33%) in those who earned less than $25,000 (£16,000).
  • Obesity rates in adults who did not graduate from high school was found to be 35%.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the course and over the next 4 weeks will let you know how I’m getting on.




McCarthy, M. (2013) US obesity rates are leveling out, but long term effects raise concern. British Medical Journal.347:f5213