The Sugar Conspiracy

Veet

Well-Known Member
This long-read article from the Guardian illuminates one of the ways science can be hijacked to push a particular position. Probably most of us here are aware of the current state of fat vs sugar in the role of obesity and metabolic syndrome. This article documents how opinion becomes accepted opinion, truth, with those questioning the majority position discredited and ostracized.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/07/the-sugar-conspiracy-robert-lustig-john-yudkin
 

Who Me?

Well-Known Member

Remy

Administrator
Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice.
YUP.
 

IrisRV

Well-Known Member
I don't know what to think of sugar, or fat, or whatever the lastest good/bad fad is. What I am fairly confident about is that too much of anything is not a good idea. What is too much is always the question. My guess is that if we weren't eating a large amount of a certain class of food say, a thousand years ago, we probably don't need a large amount of it now. Simple sugars do seem to stand out in that regard. Are there cultures that were eating a lot of simple sugars years ago? I honestly don't know.

What this article reminds us is how shockingly unscientific so much medical information actually is. Opinions mean more than solid research.

This reminds me of the 220-age maximal HR calculation. It has no scientific basis. It was a very rough linear approximation to a small set of data and wasn't intended to be used to predict an individual's maximal heart rate. It doesn't even make sense that maximal HR can be predicted by age without regard to gender, health, inherited characteristics, weight, physical condition or a myriad of other factors that could impact maximal HR. Yet because it is convenient, it has become a universally known "fact". It's on a big poster in most gyms and exercise studios -- even in hospital cardio rehab gyms. Apparently it's even on exercise physiology certification tests!

So now, some tiny, plump, out-of-shape woman with a cardiac condition is believed to have the same maximal HR as a tall, healthy, male gym rat of the same age. They're both trying to achieve 80% of that same maximal heart rate during a hard workout. Who's getting messed up? Probably both. He may not be working as hard as he needs to because his actual maximal HR is probably substantially higher, while the poor little woman is fighting to achieve a HR that may be pushing her very close to her maximal HR.

Yet this mythical calculation is so entrenched, it's almost impossible to shake it loose. Too many people are invested in it one way or another. So science loses to opinion and convenience. Again.
 

Victor Maalouf

Active Member
I don't know what to think of sugar, or fat, or whatever the lastest good/bad fad is. What I am fairly confident about is that too much of anything is not a good idea. What is too much is always the question. My guess is that if we weren't eating a large amount of a certain class of food say, a thousand years ago, we probably don't need a large amount of it now. Simple sugars do seem to stand out in that regard. Are there cultures that were eating a lot of simple sugars years ago? I honestly don't know.

What this article reminds us is how shockingly unscientific so much medical information actually is. Opinions mean more than solid research.

This reminds me of the 220-age maximal HR calculation. It has no scientific basis. It was a very rough linear approximation to a small set of data and wasn't intended to be used to predict an individual's maximal heart rate. It doesn't even make sense that maximal HR can be predicted by age without regard to gender, health, inherited characteristics, weight, physical condition or a myriad of other factors that could impact maximal HR. Yet because it is convenient, it has become a universally known "fact". It's on a big poster in most gyms and exercise studios -- even in hospital cardio rehab gyms. Apparently it's even on exercise physiology certification tests!

So now, some tiny, plump, out-of-shape woman with a cardiac condition is believed to have the same maximal HR as a tall, healthy, male gym rat of the same age. They're both trying to achieve 80% of that same maximal heart rate during a hard workout. Who's getting messed up? Probably both. He may not be working as hard as he needs to because his actual maximal HR is probably substantially higher, while the poor little woman is fighting to achieve a HR that may be pushing her very close to her maximal HR.

Yet this mythical calculation is so entrenched, it's almost impossible to shake it loose. Too many people are invested in it one way or another. So science loses to opinion and convenience. Again.
Fat.

Yeah. One basic problem is that "health" is a spectrum. What should be determined is "healthy" or "unhealthy" is just a matter of perception, opinion, and convenience. It's not so much that science loses, it's that science is inherently less effective the way we apply it to health, as opposed to physics or chemistry. You can't reproduce a human, so you can never completely reproduce a study or experiment conducted on humans. It's generally considered bad form to dissect a live human.

The best you can do is ask, what did this person, who we consider to be "healthy," do and not do? And, what did this other person, who we consider to be "less healthy" or even "unhealthy," do and not do?

We accumulate hundreds or thousands of those case studies. Out of that, medical and health establishments find as many binaries as they can, but for the rest of the possible observations come up with "ranges of normal." Within: Healthy. Outside: Unhealthy.

Then, in the unhealthy, they try to find similarities. This is where I think people, scientists, researchers, and patients often get their priorities wrong. Finding what is common among sick people only tells you about what sickness is. It doesn't tell you about what health is or how to create it. The only thing that will is asking what makes a healthy person healthy?
 
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