Don t drink the toxic sugar myth

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There are a lot of substances we may think of as toxic. Bleach, paint thinner, or gasoline might come to mind the image of a child ingesting one of these products immediately strikes fear. Yet some purveyors of junk science want to add a new substance to the list of toxic products: sugar.

In an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on yesterday s 60 Minutes, Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist from the University of California, proposed that sugar be considered a toxic substance. Arguing that sugar is addictive (brain scans seeming to match sugar highs with cocaine use were displayed) and leads to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, Dr. Lustig believes that the sweetener should be regulated as stringently as we regulate tobacco and alcohol.

We ve seen this same argument before, notably in a New York Times op-ed by Mark Bittman, who supported similar anti-sugar regulations. But this argument is entirely unsupported by any scientific evidence, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. While it may seem convincing to viewers to see Dr. Gupta drinking a sugary liquid through a straw and having the reward centers of his brain light up, this in no way serves as anything close to scientific evidence that sugar is dangerous and addictive. In fact, he points out, Dr. Lustig displayed his lack of scientific backing and devotion to his own agenda when he blamed excessive consumption of sugar for the fact that cancer and heart disease rates have been skyrocketing. Although the exact opposite is true, Dr. Gupta didn t even bat an eye.