The Case Against Sugar
by Gary Taubes
Knopf, 2016. 384 pgs. Nonfiction
In the name of heart health, federal guidelines have urged Americans away from saturated fat for decades. Claiming that a calorie is a calorie, regardless of its source, experts have argued that the obesity and modern diseases are the result of overeating and insufficient exercise. Now, investigative journalist Gary Taubes is taking on those claims and arguing that processed sugar, far more than saturated fat and even overeating, is the simplest explanation for our health woes. New research reveals that obesity, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, even cancer – any of the so-called Western diseases – have insulin resistance caused by processed sugar consumption at their root.
The Case Against Sugar is not a diet book or even a health book, really. Instead, it is a journalistic investigation into where nutrition research went wrong. Taubes traces claims about sugar’s harmlessness to their earliest sources and points out how a hypothesis with limited support became accepted nutrition fact through repetition by successive generations of food scientists. He also reveals the conflicts of interest that have almost always tainted studies into the health effects of sugar, showing how the sugar industry has funded much of the existing research. He bookends The Case Against Sugar with information about how sugar and insulin resistance affect the body and how cutting out processed sugar improves health far more dramatically and rapidly than reducing calories or saturated fat intake. Though his writing can be a little dry at times (listening to the audiobook helps), the information Taubes provides is fascinating and sometimes startling. It’s a book worth reading for anyone who enjoys reading about nutrition, health, science, or the food industry.