Swedish science journalist Dr. Ann Fernholm has been very active in the sugar debate lately:
The extremely sugary products, which the industry is marketing with happy characters should be banned; foods that we’d never even let our pets eat, should not be sold as food for our children.
Here’s her great opinion piece at SVT Opinion translated from Swedish:
“Sugar is harming our children”
“The extremely sugary products, which the industry is marketing with happy characters should be banned; foods that we’d never even let our pets eat, should not be sold as food for our children”, writes Ann Fernholm.
The year 2014 was the year when the health care system started to perform weight-loss surgery on children in Sweden. Before even turning 18, their stomachs will be bypassed. The surgery is irreversible.
Never before have children weighed as much as today’s generation. What was once called adult-onset diabetes, now affects people in their 20’s.
All adults should accept responsibility for this situation. We give our children inferior food. At the same time the agency that should promote a healthy diet focusses on the wrong target.
Some day-care centers and schools are having parties each and every week. Sometimes with unlimited sweets. But the agency responsible for our dietary guidelines is focussing on something else: removing milk fat. They’d rather see a sweetened low-fat yoghurt, where 30 percent of the calories comes from sugar, than a version richer in fats.
For almost 45 years agencies have had this rigid attitude towards fat. During this time the obesity problem has only grown worse. In 2014 science shows that fat doesn’t harm a body, not even the saturated fat.
Three different reviews of scientific results show the same thing: there is no connection between saturated fat and heart disease. A number of other studies associate full-fat dairy products with a lower weight. But our agencies for dietary guidelines maintain: dairy fat is deadly.
It’s time for the agencies issuing dietary guidelines to accept the picture that is emerging in the scientific world: it’s the sugar that’s harming kids.
There are probably several mechanisms. One is that our bodies lack a satiety hormone for fructose, one of the sugars in common household sugar. The calories may therefore gain entry without being registered.
Another likely reason is that an over-consumption of fructose leads to fatty liver, which in the long run may lead to a metabolic disturbance that causes obesity.
The agencies’ extreme stand on saturated fats is only causing children to consume more sugar. The school snack’s sugary low-fat yogurt with easily digested cereals goes directly to the blood stream and disappears.
Hungry children on their way to sports practice instead get cookies, cinnamon buns, a muesli bar or sugary rice products (“Risifrutti”) to survive until dinner. Less fat in the diet leads to a higher consumption of sugar.
Unfortunately, the agencies have completely bought the old arguments in the debate: that children are not eating more sugar today than before the obesity epidemic hit.
They’re using very incomplete statistics from the agricultural agency, where the agency hasn’t kept up with all new artificial sweeteners, for example high fructose corn syrup, inverted sugar and concentrated fruit juices. When the latter is added to a product, it may be labelled with “no added sugar”, regardless how sweet it is.
It’s time that the agencies responsible for dietary guidelines allow kids to eat more fat, and instead use their resources to sanitize kids’ lives from sugar. The agencies’ own statistics reveal that kids are consuming too much sugar.
Schools and day-care centers should be sugar-free zones. The extremely sugary products, which the industry is marketing with fun figures should be banned; foods that we’d never even let our pets eat, should not be sold as food to our children.
But again – all adults have a responsibility towards all children. No fifteen-year-old should be subjected to surgery and wake up with an esophagus directly connected to the small intestine. It’s time to turn the tide.
(Original article in Swedish, by science journalist Dr. Ann Fernholm, Sweden, PhD molecular biotechnology)