Sugar Scaremongering

Chris Snowdon:

Graham MacGregor, the chair of Action on Sugar, has been speaking to the newspapers again. This can only be a good thing for those of us who want to see the ‘public health’ racket discredited and destroyed. MacGregor performs a valuable service with his swivel-eyed rhetoric and transparent lies. Just as it is useful to have inept British Medical Association spokespeople talking obvious rubbish about e-cigarettes, so it is important that unhinged fanatics like MacGregor be given enough rope.

Sample pronouncements from MacGregor:

Sugar is the deadliest threat facing Britain today, and yet it is all but ignored by politicians and sold in every town across the country, said Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary College, University of London, and chairman of the health pressure group Action on Sugar, which wants urgent government action.

“The socially deprived and children are being targeted heavily by very clever people and it’s a disgrace. Fast-food outlets are in socially deprived areas and every one is selling fat, sugar and death.

“But it’s not just the socially deprived,” MacGregor added. “There are all these TV chefs – their food is not much better.”

Seriously, anyone who thinks that sugar is the deadliest threat facing Britain today is barking mad.

Perhaps a few people will now finally realise that the senior ranks of the British medical profession have quite simply collectively lost their marbles. Along with most of the people in the WHO.

In the past we were only being told that it was only smoking that was killing us, and more or less everything else was okay. And a lot of people took the warning seriously, and stopped smoking. But now we’re being told that a lot of the stuff we thought was okay is actually killing us as well. More or less everything is killing us. And that surely rather dilutes the original antismoking message. If sugar and salt and fat are killing us anyway, why worry about smoking?  In fact, why worry about any of it at all?

This is the position I’ve been occupying for some time now: I don’t believe any of it. There was a time when I half believed some of it. But now I think it’s all complete nonsense, and I pay no attention to any of it.

As far as I’m concerned, sugar is just an energy food. And this was brought home to me when I was a 23-year-old student, and had just done an energy audit of my typical daily diet, and found that I was only getting half my calorie requirement from the solid food I was eating. At first I wondered whether it was because I was small and thin, and needed a lot less energy than most normal people. But then I realised that, while I’d counted all the calories in the solid food I was eating, I’d forgotten about the mugs and mugs of hot sweet tea that I spent drinking throughout the day. And when I added them in, I found that I was actually getting my full calorie requirement after all. It was just that half of it was coming from hot sweet tea. Which seemed a bit much, somehow. And so I started eating more solid food, and cutting back on the spoonfuls of sugar in the tea. And coming up on 45 years later, I’m still going pretty strong. And still drinking tea all day, but with a great deal less sugar in it. And the sugar hasn’t been killing me. On the contrary, sugar has been keeping me alive. It’s well understood how sucrose is converted to glucose, which, delivered in the blood stream, is the principal source of energy for all the organs in a body.

Also keeping me alive will be the dessert I ate this evening: chopped bananas and cream, with lovely white sugar sprinkled over them. There was sugar in the bananas, and sugar in the cream, and there was of course sugar in the glistening white crystals of sugar.

Which also reminds me of how, when I got a tiny bit worried by a sugar scare back in the 1980s, I decided to stop buying white sugar, and use brown sugar instead. Why? Because since brown bread and brown rice was supposed to be better for you than white bread and white rice, obviously brown sugar must also be better for you than white sugar. Well, it stands to reason, doesn’t it? I kept it up for a whole 3 weeks before I ran out of brown sugar bought at some distant and very expensive health food shop, and went back to cheap and abundant white sugar.


About Frank Davis

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33 Responses to Sugar Scaremongering

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Sugar cane a natural grass man has always used

    Sugar cane began to grow wild in India and south-east Asia about a hundred million years ago, when grasses evolved from earlier plants. When people first walked to India, about 60,000 years ago, they probably began to eat the sugar cane pretty much right away. For people who are using a lot of energy running and working hard, sugar provides a lot of carbohydrates – and it tastes good. Certainly by about 2500 BC, people in India were eating sugar cane. For three thousand years after that, though, only people in India and south-east Asia ate sugar cane. This was because you had to eat it fresh, before the juice dried up, and sugar cane wouldn’t grow further north.

    Then about 350 AD, under the Guptan Empire, Indian food scientists finally invented a way to make sugar cane juice into crystallized sugar (what you find in your sugar bowl). You did this by grinding or pounding the sugar cane to get out the juice. Then you dried the juice in the sun and you got lumps of sugar that would keep for a long time. Now Indian merchants could sell these lumps of sugar to other countries.

    When Buddhist monks began to travel back and forth between India and China, they brought sugar to China with them. Emperor Taizong of the T’ang Dynasty got interested in sugar, and he asked official Indian ambassadors to come to China to explain how to grow sugar cane and make sugar. The T’ang emperors sent at least two missions to India in the 600s AD to learn more about sugar technology.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Junk Science – a term used to describe false or misleading research that is offered as real science, but which was not obtained using the accepted scientific method . The term “junk science” is often applied to deceptive environmental and health studies.

  3. Joe L. says:

    For the longest time, fast food has been the target of healthists, but as of this week, they’re telling us it’s even worse to eat at a non-fast food restaurant:

    Restaurant Food May Be Unhealthier Than Fast Food

  4. waltc says:

    Ah yes. “Jam tomorrow and jam yrsterday but NEVER JAM TODAY.”

    Meanwhile, low blood sugar is debilitating and sugar is the quickest way to get mental as well as physical energy. The gambler Nick The Greek attributed his success in marathon poker games where other players got all faded and fuzzy to his constantly drinling orange juice (sugar–and in fact the dreaded fructose, no?) while he was playing around the clock. The body doesn’t really care about the source: a chocolate bar or a soda or a cream pie would do.

    Got the post, Frank. Thanks. Sent it on tonight. I’ll be interested in his response. If any.

  5. Facing BRITAIN????

    Sheeesh…. go to

    and in the first 15 seconds of the video, you’ll learn that sugar is “The Greatest Public Health Threat In The HISTORY OF THE WORLD!”

    Yep, worse than AIDS, worse than MRSA, worse than smallpox, worse than the BLACK PLAGUE itself!

    The lunatics are now quite truly running the asylum.

    – MJM

  6. Rose says:

    I really must speak up for sugar, it powers the muscles and the brain. Not only does it taste good but it’s a more efficient way of getting energy when you need it. I dug up the whole of nextdoor’s garden using only a garden fork and powered by a box of Indian sweets. Sugar stops you having to eat so much food.
    As I mentioned yesterday, the ants in my garden are farming aphids for honeydew, do these modern upstarts think that these ancient insects don’t know what they are doing?

    Ants are surprisingly ancient, arising 140-168 million years ago
    Insects flourished with the rise of flowering plants

    Or perhaps the bees which these anti-sugar people rely on for whatever dull, approved food they feel is safe for them to eat?

    Lack of sugar is probably the reason they make these irritating pronouncements.

    The reason there is so much sugar in modern foods is because for 50 years the same sort of people have been vehemently informing us that fat was bad.

    Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus

    And thanks to the anti-salt campaign I have realised that my salt intake was perilously low and have increased it.

    So, tell me again, why should I listen to a word they say?

    (I do have a dentist, I visit them every 6 months)

    • smokingscot says:

      @ Rose

      Guido did an article on what the tax would mean in practice. It’s not nice.

      However on one programme I chanced upon, the talking head for the sugar tax stated outright that it would stop poor people from being able to buy fizzy drinks.

      I do believe that’s their intent with respect to petrol, heating fuel, alcohol and of course any type of tobacco product.

      And so it is Rose that people at the lower end of the income scale have precious little they can genuinely aspire to.

      Sickening, because it’s all about a very small number of people holding sway with politicians.

  7. DICK R says:

    The health fascists will only be content when we live out our lives in damp huts eeking out an existence on raw carrots and mineral water.

    • Rose says:

      I fear that you are absolutely right.

      A curious paragraph caught my eye in that story on mummies, but I didn’t follow it up until now.

      “He said it is commonly thought that if modern humans could emulate pre-industrial or even pre-agricultural lifestyles, that atherosclerosis would be avoided.”

      Who commonly thinks so? I’d never heard of such a thing.

      Shockingly, now Public Health appears to have been infiltrated by Cavemen

      Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer.

      “Our genetic make-up, shaped through millions of years of evolution, determines our nutritional and activity needs.

      Although the human genome has remained primarily unchanged since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, our diet and lifestyle have become progressively more divergent from those of our ancient ancestors.

      Accumulating evidence suggests that this mismatch between our modern diet and lifestyle and our Paleolithic genome is playing a substantial role in the ongoing epidemics of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Until 500 generations ago, all humans consumed only wild and unprocessed food foraged and hunted from their environment.

      These circumstances provided a diet high in lean protein, polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3 [omega-3] fatty acids), monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial phytochemicals. Historical and anthropological studies show hunter-gatherers generally to be healthy, fit, and largely free of the degenerative cardiovascular diseases common in modern societies.

      This review outlines the essence of our hunter-gatherer genetic legacy and suggests practical steps to re-align our modern milieu with our ancient genome in an effort to improve cardiovascular health.”

      There can be fashions in everything.

      • Rose says:

        It gets worse.

        How the Paleolithic life style got trendy.

        “The adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered” is Jared Diamond’s dour assessment, offered in an essay titled “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.”

        Like Stone Age hunter-gatherers, early farmers left little behind—just some burnt grain, mud foundations, and their own bones. But that’s enough to reveal how punishing the transition to agriculture was. According to a study of human remains from China and Japan, the height of the average person declined by more than three inches during the millennia in which rice cultivation intensified. According to another study, of bones from Mesoamerica, women’s heights dropped by three inches and men’s by two inches as farming spread. A recent survey of more than twenty studies on this subject, published in the journal Economics and Human Biology, found that the adoption of agriculture “was observed to decrease stature in populations from across the entire globe,” including in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America.

        Early farmers were not just shorter than hunter-gatherers; they were also more sickly. They had worse teeth—one analysis from the Near East suggests that the incidence of cavities jumped sixfold as people started relying on grain—and they suffered from increased rates of anemia and infectious disease. Many now familiar infections—measles, for instance—require high population densities to persist; thus, it wasn’t until people established towns and cities that such “crowd epidemic diseases” could flourish. And, by living in close proximity to their equally crowded farm animals, early agriculturalists helped to bring into being a whole set of diseases that jumped from livestock to people.

        “The adoption of agriculture,” Diamond notes in his most recent book, “The World Until Yesterday,” provided “ideal conditions for the rapid transmission of microbes.” According to Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard and the author of “The Story of the Human Body,” “farming ushered in an era of epidemics, including tuberculosis, leprosy, syphilis, plague, smallpox and influenza.”

        It took thousands of years for human bodies to recover; Lieberman reports that “it wasn’t until the twentieth century that Europeans were the same height as cavemen.” And, almost as soon as the stature gap closed, new problems arose. People began to grow not just taller but also wider. During the past several decades, rates of obesity, hypertension, fatty-liver disease, and Type 2 diabetes have soared. The increases were first noted in the United States, but, now that French fries and Coke have gone global, nations ranging from Mexico to Mauritius have seen similar—indeed, in some cases, worse—surges. Today, the highest prevalence of diabetes is in Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific, where nearly forty per cent of adults are afflicted. Lieberman calls conditions like Type 2 diabetes “mismatch diseases.” Our ancestors hunted and gathered; we drive to Shake Shack and Domino’s. The result is a “mismatch” between our genetics and our life styles.

        “I don’t think it is possible to overemphasize just how important mismatch diseases are,” Lieberman writes. “You are most likely going to die from a mismatch disease.”

        Paleo may look like a food fad, and yet you could argue that it’s really just the reverse. Anatomically modern humans have, after all, been around for about two hundred thousand years. The genus Homo goes back another two million years or so. On the timescale of evolutionary history, it’s agriculture that’s the fad.”

        The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

        Which gives them a 28 year head start on us.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          mummy study heart disease

          Atherosclerosis across 4000 years of human history: the Horus study of four ancient populations
          Published Online: 11 March 2013

          Atherosclerosis is thought to be a disease of modern human beings and related to contemporary lifestyles. However, its prevalence before the modern era is unknown. We aimed to evaluate preindustrial populations for atherosclerosis.

          We obtained whole body CT scans of 137 mummies from four different geographical regions or populations spanning more than 4000 years. Individuals from ancient Egypt, ancient Peru, the Ancestral Puebloans of southwest America, and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands were imaged. Atherosclerosis was regarded as definite if a calcified plaque was seen in the wall of an artery and probable if calcifications were seen along the expected course of an artery.

          Probable or definite atherosclerosis was noted in 47 (34%) of 137 mummies and in all four geographical populations: 29 (38%) of 76 ancient Egyptians, 13 (25%) of 51 ancient Peruvians, two (40%) of five Ancestral Puebloans, and three (60%) of five Unangan hunter gatherers (p=NS). Atherosclerosis was present in the aorta in 28 (20%) mummies, iliac or femoral arteries in 25 (18%), popliteal or tibial arteries in 25 (18%), carotid arteries in 17 (12%), and coronary arteries in six (4%). Of the five vascular beds examined, atherosclerosis was present in one to two beds in 34 (25%) mummies, in three to four beds in 11 (8%), and in all five vascular beds in two (1%). Age at time of death was positively correlated with atherosclerosis (mean age at death was 43 [SD 10] years for mummies with atherosclerosis vs 32 [15] years for those without; p<0·0001) and with the number of arterial beds involved (mean age was 32 [SD 15] years for mummies with no atherosclerosis, 42 [10] years for those with atherosclerosis in one or two beds, and 44 [8] years for those with atherosclerosis in three to five beds; p<0·0001).

          Atherosclerosis was common in four preindustrial populations including preagricultural hunter-gatherers. Although commonly assumed to be a modern disease, the presence of atherosclerosis in premodern human beings raises the possibility of a more basic predisposition to the disease.

          National Endowment for the Humanities, Paleocardiology Foundation, The National Bank of Egypt, Siemens, and St Luke's Hospital Foundation of Kansas City.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Mummies’ clogged arteries take smoking, fatty foods, lethargy out of the mix

          By Tom Valeo, Times Correspondent

          Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:30am

          You do everything right: You exercise every day, include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet, never smoke, minimize the stress in your life and take medication to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control. You’re preventing modern life from ruining your heart, right? • Well, maybe modern life isn’t as much of a problem as merely living. CT scans of 137 ancient mummies from three continents show that our ancestors had plaque in their arteries, too, even though they never smoked, never tasted ice cream or pork rinds, and had no choice but to exercise vigorously every day of their lives.

          According to the study, which appeared recently in the Lancet, at least one-third of the mummies, who lived as long as 5,000 years ago, had arteries that had narrowed as a result of atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty deposits in the arterial wall. Apparently the cardiovascular system has a tendency to clog up over time.

          “Our research shows that we are all at risk for atherosclerosis, the disease that causes heart attacks and strokes,” said Gregory Thomas, medical director of the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, and one of the authors of the study. “The data we gathered about individuals from the prehistoric cultures of ancient Peru and the Native Americans living along the Colorado River and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands is forcing us to look for other factors that may cause heart disease.”

          The diet of the mummies varied widely, but contained ample protein and vegetables (and presumably no cupcakes or pork rinds). Aside from the few Egyptian mummies who lived their lives as pampered royalty, these ancient people used their muscles constantly.

          Yet, the atherosclerosis was found in mummies who died in what we today would consider middle age (almost none made it to 60). And just as today, their arteries became more narrow as they got older. CT scans of modern people have demonstrated that after the age of 60 for men and 70 for women, some degree of atherosclerosis is all but universal. One large study found that teens ages 15 to 19 showed early signs of atherosclerosis, and 50 percent already had conspicuous accumulations of plaque.

          “All of us age in every tissue of our body,” says Dr. Donald LaVan, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokesman for the American Heart Association. “It’s just a question of how rapidly it happens. There’s nothing you can do to stop aging. All you’re trying to do is prevent it from advancing faster than it should.”

          The authors of the paper agree. “Although commonly assumed to be a modern disease, the presence of atherosclerosis in premodern humans raises the possibility of a more basic predisposition to the disease,” they concluded.

          So what can we do to thwart that predisposition?

          Above all, don’t smoke, says LaVan, and engage in regular physical activity.

          “After that, we’re in the realm of treating disease,” he says. “If your lipids are up or you have hypertension, take care of it. If you have problems with rhythm disturbances, that must be treated, too, because it impairs the ability of heart to pump efficiently. We’re looking at common sense here, but getting patients to do these things is tough.”

  8. woodsy42 says:

    “chopped bananas and cream, with lovely white sugar sprinkled ”
    How could you eat banana when there are so many wonderful raspberries around? Although you might need a bit more sugar than the banana – and a nice sweet meringue nest goes well with it all.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I was doing raspberries and cream last month.

      Odd thing about raspberries is that cream won’t stick to them the way it will to strawberries and bananas.

      Meringue is egg white and sugar, I believe.

  9. roobeedoo2 says:

    I always take the Mary Poppins approach to pronouncements on sugar by the likes of Action on Sugar…

    And btw, does anybody else find the term ‘action on Sugar’ sounds just a little bit pervy? No? Just me then ;)

    • Joe L. says:

      I just visited the website of Action on Sugar (, and I found that they are (unsurprisingly) an offshoot of “Consensus Action on Salt and Health,” a group which proudly displays what its true interests are by boldly displaying its conspicuous acronym, “CASH.”

  10. Joe L. says:

    Cameron unveils 5-year plan to ‘deglamorize’ lure of extremist groups

    The Times of London says that Cameron is particularly focused on “non-violent extremists,” i.e. those who hold ideas “hostile to basic liberal values” and who promote “discrimination, sectarianism and segregation.”

    What groups do we know of that fit Cameron’s simple definition of “non-violent extremists” better than any religious extremist group? ASH and the WHO. However, something tells me they’re not on his list.

  11. junican says:

    Two thousand years ago, in Pompeii, there were fast food shops! I doubt that they were fish and chip shops, but the evidence is there in the form of stone counters with hollows in them where the cooking was done along with utensils.

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Time for Ky. to invest in smoking prevention, cessation

    By Janie Heathand Ellen J. Hahn

    • Rose says:

      Healthists really don’t get the purpose of pubs do they. It’s not meant to be a health spa, it’s a place where people go to relax, smoke, drink and chat.
      There always was an element of risk going into a pub, no matter how slight and we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t take a calculated risk now and then, even if it’s only tripping over the doorstep.
      Why should non-smokers be treated as if they are incapable of making a choice, it’s insulting.

  13. Rose says:

    Meanwhile, news from the pit.

    Cost of 20 cigarettes to soar to £15 A PACKET under new Government proposals
    Jul 20, 2015

    “The proposals, put forward in a document by the Independent Cancer Taskforce, are part of the latest attempt to drastically cut down cancer deaths.”

    “The taskforce’s chairman, Harpal Kumar, said the proposals needed to be put into place as soon as possible.”

    I daresay that £15 per pack wouldn’t seem a great deal of money to someone as well off as he.

    “Nine executives at Cancer Research UK earn more than the Prime Minister, including chief executive Harpal Kumar, who pockets up to £240,000 a year.

    Kumar, 50, lives in a luxury £1.6m home in north-west London and does not have a mortgage.”

  14. smokingscot says:

    @ Frank

    Just in case you missed it (BBC red button for about 14 hours).

    In view of the crisis caused by the EU dealings with the Greek government, Mr. Hollande calls for greater integration with Eurozone countries, even going so far as to say:

    “I have proposed taking up Jacques Delors’ idea about euro government, with the addition of a specific budget and a parliament to ensure democratic control.”

    So there you have it, ground zero – under Delors – a separate parliament and budget to ensure… oh WTF, go take a shufty.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Itd only lead to EURO ARMIES/NAZI ARMIES invading and controlling its so called member nations. Its hitlers Europe all over again.

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    Sandra Bland was arrested after officer became annoyed that she was smoking

    African American woman, 28, died in custody after Texas traffic stop escalated, with supporters saying dashcam images show trooper becoming agitated

  16. beobrigitte says:

    More or less everything is killing us.

    Yep. Unless, of course, there is someone out there who lives on this planet forever. In that case, he/she needs to speak up or shut up.
    The hellthists argue “quality of ‘longer’ life” – what quality is there in a life staring at a wall, not knowing who exactly you are and how you got to the room you find yourself isolated in/ And, all of a sudden your cigarettes/beer/cakes are being removed just in case they kill you and your carers? HOW did you manage to get into this position when a whiff of smoke; too many cakes/beers kill you in an instant?

    What did the BBC a couple of days ago lament? Ah, yeah, the increasing number of OLD PEOPLE in our society. They are here NOW, how did they survive the 50s, 60s, 70s?

    In 4 years we all (limited to local in my case!) will vote for a government again. The one we got is riddled with fear. No good.

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