Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Sweet!: Healthful Energy for Healthy Activity

Sweet!: Healthful Energy for Healthy Activity

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 18, 2011

A popular Facebook link this weekend has been this New York times article on sugar, claiming that sugar in any amount is not only unhealthy, but is toxic in exactly the same sense as any recognized poison. So who am I supposed to believe? The New York Times guy (who is identified as a “researcher” and an “investigator” but never as a scientist — anybody, however inept or untrained or off-balance can call himself a researcher. I oughta know; it’s what I call myself) — or this 1950 ad from the Children’s Friend? C’mon, who am I supposed to believe??





  1. Yummy!

    Comment by kew — April 18, 2011 @ 7:06 am

  2. Once it’s been published by the church, It’s doctrine. That’s why I am giving FHE on this tonight as “The Other Word of Wisdom”.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 18, 2011 @ 8:04 am

  3. Was the “researcher” talking about U and I sugar? Being from Utah makes it different, you know.

    Comment by Carol — April 18, 2011 @ 8:44 am

  4. I went to the net and found the NYT article and a storm of comments. The first said the best response to the NYT piece is “humbug!”. I was relieved that I did not have to begin repenting for all the sugar beet work I did as a teenager including thinning sugar beets on Orval Benson’s farm in Whitney, Idaho (a couple of miles from my home in Preston), thereby contributing to the production of POISON! That is the farm that Elder Benson kept referring to as “my farm” when he was Eisenhour’s Sec of Ag. That would make Orval So-o-o mad as “Taft” had sold his half to Orval many years earlier.

    Comment by CurtA — April 18, 2011 @ 9:14 am

  5. Did the church have a ownership stake in U&I?

    Comment by Clark — April 18, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  6. When you can run as many miles as the kids in that ad, then you can eat as much sugar. 🙂

    Diet is mainly a matter of balance: fiber, fast-acting carbs, slow-acting carbs, protein, fats, vitamins/minerals, anti-oxidants, and other needful building blocks that the body needs; all kept in balance with the body’s requirements; especially in terms of balancing daily calories ingested with daily calories expended.

    It’s that latter that gets most of us in trouble. We simply consume more calories than we expend, until we gain weight to the point that merely carrying that weight around causes us to expend sufficient calories to equal what we consume; then that excess weight becomes our plateau or equilibrium.

    Sugar is among the most calorie-dense of foods, the greatest number of calories for the least bulk. Therefore if we are looking to fill our tummy, but consume less calories, high calorie-dense foods would be the first to be restricted.

    Fast-acting carbs, such as sugars and starch (rice, potatoes, wheat, corn) also directly and quickly affect blood glucose levels, too much of which over time can bring about diabetes and aggravate existing diabetes. But again, the key is _balance_.

    Fiber is a thing that balances or mitigates carbs, cuasing them to be converted to blood sugar more slowly. (IE, brown rice is better than white rice, whole wheat flour with bran better than white refined flour without it, potatoes with skins better than without skins.)

    Exercise is also a great mitigating factor to burn up the calories in all those carbs we consume.

    Comment by Bookslinger — April 18, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  7. That being said, I admit to buying a lot of glucose (corn sugar) to make my own sports drink for my workouts. Goes straight from the stomach to the bloodsteam; whereas sucrose (table sugar) has to be digested and broken down into 50% glucose + 50% fructose first, and only the glucose goes to the bloodstream, the fructose goes to the liver and gets converted to a lipid, which then has to undergo further steps before it can be used as energy, but only _after_ the body’s glucose/glycogen gets mostly used up.

    That side-trip of the fructose part of sugar going into lipids (fats) makes for easy weight gain (body fat) if you don’t first burn off most of the glucose that comes from simple carbs and the glucose-half of sugar.

    Comment by Bookslinger — April 18, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  8. Clark (5): Yes.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 18, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  9. Ardis, I think you can believe the 1950 ad, but only in its time frame. We were consuming much less prepackaged and prepared foods, along with less dining out or fast foods. Those factors are part of the reason, as I understand it, that our sugar consumption is up, mostly in terms of high fructose corn syrup. Even the recent Domino’s Pizza makeover improved the flavor of their pizza by using a sweeter sauce with more sugars.

    So if you are living in the 1950’s, you need the energy to outrun the communist hoards on our way to your bomb shelter, where you’ll survive on saltine crackers, water, and the occasional spread of peanut butter.

    Stapley ought to jump in here. This seems to be right up his alley.

    Comment by kevinf — April 18, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  10. Actually, Kevin F., some of us weren’t consuming anything in 1950!

    And, Ardis, I read that article in the Times Magazine with interest–but I don’t think he said that sugar in any quantity was unhealthy (or was I doing a selective edit as I read?). But he did say there had been a substantial increase in the amount of sugar that Americans consume in the past 30 or 40 years. I think I’ll stick to my no sodas/no fruit juices/not much dessert regimen.

    I just checked–Taubes mentions a study finding no deleterious effects from a diet that included 40 “added pounds” of sugars per year, but says that most Americans at the time of the study were consuming about 75 added pounds, and that the number is now upwards of 90.

    Comment by Mark B. — April 18, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

  11. I can’t find it on the current, but there’s a poster on the wall at our local LDS cannery that lists the amount of food for an adult for one year, using cannery-supplied items, whole wheat kernals, oats, beans, rice, powdered milk, carrots, dried apples, etc.

    It lists 60 pounds of sugar per adult per year.

    Comment by Bookslinger — April 18, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  12. Trying to give them an out here, Books: Do you suppose that quantity is not just to eat by the spoonful but to be used in preserving foods? We might judge that by knowing how much salt they recommend as storage.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 18, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  13. And by “spoonful,” of course I mean by “shovelful.” 60 pounds!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 18, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  14. Humbug!

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 18, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

  15. Mark B,

    Lest anyone be confused, I wasn’t consuming anything in 1950 either!

    Comment by kevinf — April 19, 2011 @ 9:36 am

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