The just one thing approach to eating better

sugarThe phrase sugar is poison, fructose is toxic, is incorrect, says Dr. David Katz, the Director of the Yale Prevention Research Center in a blog entry appearing in the Huffington Post. Sugar, in general, is not poison. Breast milk contains sugar. The human bloodstream contains sugar, at all times, and the moment it doesn't, we die. The only rational message about sugar, he says, is that too much of it is harmful, but that message isn t sexy, it lacks pizzazz to go viral, and it would ill-serve the cause of creating the next great fad.

The claim that fructose is toxic has been debunked. Dr. Katz explains that the levels of fructose necessary to cause organ damage would not occur under real world conditions. And sugar in the form of fructose is no worse than any other type of sugar. (If you want more perspective on this fact, be sure to read ACSH s publication High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Separating Myths from Facts). However, Dr. Katz emphasizes that his main concern here isn t simply that the message is wrong, but rather he is concerned about what we re going to do with this message.

He believes that the thinking that there is just one thing wrong with our diets is the quintessential blunder of public health nutrition. The reason that we cannot acknowledge that there is not just one thing wrong, is because that message lacks sex appeal. He expands on this point: A fixation on any nutrient property in isolation is a gilded invitation to the food industry to give us a whole new parade of products boasting that attribute, no matter what else might be in the mix.

But now the sexy message has returned and instead of producing food that is better overall, fructose is getting the blame. The dietary revolution that Dr. Katz believes is necessary to change the course of public health has been pushed off yet again.

Be sure to read his blog post in its entirety here.