Almost missed this letter to the editor of Food Manufacture.co.uk from Action On Sugar’s Chairman Professor Graham MacGregor, in which he makes a rather remarkable statement
We are not claiming that their is anything uniquely damaging about sugar, apart from the fact that added sugar is a completely unnecessary source of calories and a cause of dental caries.
I find this extraordinary for a number of reasons, firstly, you might argue that forming a single issue lobby group Action on Sugar
…a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health.
itself strongly implies that sugar has unique effects on health which need to be tackled.
Secondly you might point out that the idea that added sugar is uniquely dangerous beyond its effects on obesity has been the central theme in Action on Sugar’s 3 month long media campaign. At various times, Action on sugar have made the following claims about the dangers of sugar consumption:-
- Sugar is toxic
- Sugar is comparable to tobacco
- Excess sugar is more harmful than fat
- That the fructose component of added sugar is toxic to the liver when consumed in excess (with excess being totally undefined, of course)
- That sugar consumption is associated with increased death rates from cardiovascular disease
- That added sugar increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome
- Sugar is addictive
- Sugar is linked to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, independent of weight
This is not singling out sugar as uniquely damaging? I’m sure Professor MacGregor would argue that these are clearly stated as ‘links’ and ‘associations’ rather than causative but when you continually bombard the public with claims about the harms from sugar – often whilst simultaneously espousing the virtues of once demonised fat – the cumulative effect is to establish that very premise.
I don’t know if Professor MacGregor cannot recognise this, or if he is profoundly ignorant of the activities of a campaign which he chairs. Certainly when Action on Sugar’s own launch day press release states the following
Common sense’ and the food industry say that all calories are the same. But the science says that sugar is different – that sugar is dangerous exclusive of its calories, just like alcohol.
it leaves him looking rather foolish.