by David Safier
Mark Bittman, food writer for the NY Times, has a column this morning citing a study that concludes the relationship of sugar to diabetes is as clear as the relationship of smoking to lung cancer. One of the study's authors told Bittman, “You could not enact a real-world study that would be more conclusive than this one.”
The study controlled for poverty, urbanization, aging, obesity and physical activity. It controlled for other foods and total calories. In short, it controlled for everything controllable, and it satisfied the longstanding “Bradford Hill” criteria for what’s called medical inference of causation by linking dose (the more sugar that’s available, the more occurrences of diabetes); duration (if sugar is available longer, the prevalence of diabetes increases); directionality (not only does diabetes increase with more sugar, it decreases with less sugar); and precedence (diabetics don’t start consuming more sugar; people who consume more sugar are more likely to become diabetics).
The article also states the obvious: the sugar industry will fight these findings just like the tobacco industry fought a few years back. Actually, Big Sugar has been doing it for years, successfully clouding the issue and keeping people confused about the available research.
This is a controllable problem, meaning greater knowledge can help us keep a check on people's overall sugar intake, and education can help parents be more mindful of what they feed their children. It's a clear health issue and needs to be dealt with in that light.