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In defence of sugar: a critique of diet-centrism

19 / 10 / 18

In this provocatively titled paper published in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, Dr Edward Archer challenges the idea that sugar is responsible for the increased prevalence of obesity and chronic disease. His viewpoint defines ‘diet-centrism’ as the naïve tendency of researchers and the public to attribute a wide range of health outcomes exclusively to diet factors while neglecting the essential and well-established role of individual differences in nutrient metabolism.  He asserts that the human body is a complex system in which dietary factors are dependent on the current state of that system, and nutrients cannot have effects independent of the physiological context of the individual, such as physical activity level. He takes an unapologetically adversarial position and describes anti-sugar rhetoric as simply diet-centric disease-mongering engendered by physiological illiteracy and much of the commentary unscientific hyperbole.

As you might expect, his paper generated some counter-arguments, and a rebuttal.

American cardiologists James DiNicolantonio and James O’Keefe argue added sugars are not essential to life and humans did not consume sucrose throughout most of our evolution. They attribute many adverse health outcomes including dental decay and inflammation that cannot be countered by physical activity and can occur without positive energy balance.

Dr Archer responded by suggesting medical and scientific communities eschew magical thinking, be sceptical and refute puritanical proscriptions based on diet-centrism.

Journal Editor Carl Lavie is of the view that the effects of sugar have been over-emphasized by scientists and especially by the media, and feels it is important for scientists to discuss opposing viewpoints.

You can read another commentary from Science Daily on the article here.

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Dr Edward Archer, obesity theorist and computational physiologist, University of Alabama. In 2015, Dr. Archer authored the first comprehensive and definitive theory of the non-genetic inheritance and evolution of obesity and type II diabetes.

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