Wow! Yesterday, the release of Grain Brain Revised, was an incredibly exciting day. From visiting with the folks at MindBodyGreen to taking your questions live in numerous live chats on Facebook and Instagram, I was privileged to get to spend the day speaking with you all and spreading our message on optimal health.
But it goes without saying that the most provocative part of my day was how it started — my conversation with CBS This Morning. Let me start by saying it was an honor to get to sit with such a storied team of reporters. It was humbling to have Gayle, John, and the entire team present for this dialogue.
But the fact that this segment opened with a statement from the Sugar Association was illuminating. “Big Sugar” is trying to take back control of the conversation we have about health, and it’s threatening to push our message out of the way to do so.
Why? Consider this. In 2018, sugar sales fell dramatically. In fact, sugar is the worst-performing commodity good of the year! Big Sugar can read the tea leaves: consumers in many markets are beginning to get smart to the contents of their food, and are looking for the healthier, low-sugar options. This comes on the heels of years of reporting on the link between elevated blood sugar, resulting from unregulated sugar consumption, and risk for chronic disease, notably Alzheimer’s. The higher the blood sugar, the faster the rate of cognitive decline. Simply put, the public is waking up to the dangers peddled by the sugar and corn syrup industries, and sales are suffering as a result.
This message reaching the mainstream comes despite Big Sugar’s attempts to muddy the scientific waters on the subject and smear the scientists on the other side. Over the years, Big Sugar has targeted researchers, organizations like the American Heart Association, and the federal government alike. And as sales fall, it’s only gotten worse. Don’t believe me? See for yourself: in 2017, American sugar producers spent over $1 million on lobbying, up from less than $500,000 in 2016. And so far in 2018, sugar lobbyists have declared almost $1 million in profits.
But Big Sugar’s concerns don’t end there. Even the US Government is getting wise to the science! In the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the United States Office of Disease Prevention even recommended drastically reducing added sugars to less than 10% of calories consumed. The Sugar Association sees that and does what it is built to do: spring in to action. That’s what this PR lobby is meant to do: work on behalf of American sugar producers to get you to eat more sugar. Their statement that unspecified “decades of research” (sponsored by companies like Nestlé and Coca-Cola, undoubtedly) support the consumption of sugar has no real scientific merit. As I said on air, it’s akin to the tobacco industry telling us that smoking cigarettes was healthy and using the images of doctors in their advertising. We’ve all seen this script before, from the millions spent on lobbying to the flat denial of the science of the day.
For me, it boils down to this: forget the PR, what is the science telling us? It’s saying the same thing, over, and over, and over again, that sugar is slowly killing us. If this sounds unlikely to you, I challenge you to look at the science and come to your own conclusions. I’m all ears for your analysis, and look forward to a lively discussion in the comments of this post.
As always, I appreciate the opportunity to get the message out about the link between elevated sugar intake and cognitive decline. I am grateful as ever to count myself as part of a community of passionate, committed brain health advocates! But as I said on the show, something about listening to the sugar industry just doesn’t sit right with me…