God Damn the Sugar Pusherman

Last Sunday on CBS 60 Minutes, Dr. Sanjay Gupta courageously (taking the risk of losing advertising)  raised a very controversial issue before millions of Americans that has been gaining steam for over a year on You Tube.  Gupta's question is,  is this: Is sugar toxic? A pediatric endocrinologist at UC San Francisco named Dr. Robert Lustig has answered YES at the top of his lungs for years. Now Lustig's message has cracked the Media Big Time.

Watch this video and see what you think. What is happening is that slowly but surely credible evidence is mounting that sugar and fructose, in all their many forms, is at the root of most of the so-called diseases of civilization, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and many cancers, and bankrupting the U.S. healthcare system and millions of individuals and families right along with it.

It's not welcome news because we have a national sweet tooth. Sugar is addictive and addicts become very aggressive and angry when anybody tries to cut off their drug supply. Too hell with anybody who would stand between us and our ice cream, candy, doughnuts, apple pie, Twinkies, pancakes, beer, and __________ (fill in the blank with your favorite).

The problem with sugar is that we eat way to much of it. If the scientists in the video are right, it's because sugar behaves like a drug and, over time, you need to consume more and more of it to satisfy your sweet cravings. There really is no pro-sugar data to present to argue against the arguments made in this video. Witness the fumbling sugar industry spokesman. He says lamely that people will not stop eating it, but does not deny sugar consumption may be a factor in Americans' failing health.

Ironically, a few days before this 60 Minutes segment, the media excitedly reported the results of a study showing that bariatric surgery (reducing the size of the stomach) and consequent weight loss could "cure" diabetes. The study was sponsored by, guess who?, the manufacturer of bariatric surgical instruments. Weight loss surgeons are making the public case that it's cheaper to pay them $20,000 now for a surgical procedure than to pay for all the future complications of diabetes, which dwarf that number. Really?

One of the reasons healthcare costs have spiraled out of control is we have created a perverse cycle where our sedentary work and adulterated industrial food cause life and lifestyle threatening health conditions that an innovative and greedy healthcare system stands ready to "cure" with expensive interventions using exotic technologies. Forget for the moment that any surgery is inherently risky due to chance of infection or complications.

How about we just exercise more and eat less sugar? Not no sugar, just less.