Have you ever seen the movie "Elf" with Will Ferrell? He drenches every meal in syrup because Christmas elves thrive on sweets. My daughter loves Will's character and true to elf form, persistently dramatizes her "need" for sweets. We oblige (in relative moderation) because she eats an incredibly healthy diet in addition to her treats, but I often wonder if she's still consuming too much.
A recent article in The New York Times, made me seriously re-think things. "Is Sugar Toxic" by Gary Taubes dives deep into the issue and highlights the work of Robert Lustig, a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and a leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, who decribes sugar as "evil" and a "poison."
Taubes cites Lustig as arguing "our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years" and "that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles - heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them."
But, are sugar and high-fructose corn syrup inherently toxic in any dose, as Lustig implies? Taubes points out the fundamental question of toxicology - "at what dose does a substance go from being harmless to harmful? How much do we have to consume before this happens?"
The answer is much more complicated than you'd think (typical of toxicology). But, one thing is abundantly obvious. As a society, we're consuming way too much sugar - levels that are indeed having toxic effects on our health.
Did you see the first episode of Season 2 of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (now airing on ABC Tuesdays 8/7c)? He shows how much sugar students at the LA Unified School District are consuming simply via flavored milks. It's truly disturbing. This is only one source of sugar in these children's diets and it's being provided by an institution charged with teaching our children. What is this teaching them?
This is insanity. Things have gone way too far and it's despicable that we continue allow it when we're facing an epidemic of "lifestyle" diseases like obesity and diabetes.
We're proud to be supporting Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and we urge you to join us!
- Sign and share Jamie's Petition- help them get to 1million signers!
- Join the Sugary Milk Campaign to get flavored, sugary milk out of schools. Over the past 2 weeks, fantastically over 45,000 people have joined in asking for only wholesome, plain white milk to be served in schools. AND - LAUSD has committed to banning flavored milks starting this fall! However to make real change we need more supporters, so if you haven't already, join the Sugary Milk campaign! (Read our Sugary Milk fact sheet to arm yourself with all the facts and grab a twibbon to show your support.)
- Make the Food Revolution your own and create community actions - check out the map for a Food Revolution community group to join in your local area and help the conversation grow by sharing ideas, stories and inspiration to help create a community movement. If there is no pre-existing group in your area then you can create one and start a Revolution in your area!
- Join us online! Their Facebook Food Revolution Community page has over 65,000 followers and is a great place to join the conversation and keep up to date with all the news. We are also live on twitter and our @FoodRevTeam hosts weekly twitter competitions using the hash tag #FoodRevComp each Tuesday and twitter parties each Wednesday, using the hash tag #FoodRevParty. Keep an eye out on their website, Facebook Community page and twitter for timings!
How about it folks? Have you joined the revolution? What are you doing? Are you concerned about all that sugar?
p.s. One more thing, if you haven't yet - SIGN OUR PETITION telling Kraft to stop using risky artificial food dyes! Because it's not just the excessive sugars in our children's diets that are having toxic effects, it's also unnecessary additives like artificial food dyes.