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The Case Against Sugar Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 27, 2016
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"Taubes’s writing is both inflammatory and copiously researched. It is also well timed... Hard-charging (and I’ll add game-changing)." —Dan Barber, The New York Times
"[A] blitz of a book... Mr. Taubes’s argument is so persuasive that, after reading The Case Against Sugar, this functioning chocoholic cut out the Snacking Bark and stopped eating cakes and white bread... The Case Against Sugar should be a powerful weapon against future misinformation." —Eugenia Bone, The Wall Street Journal
"Compelling... Perhaps at long last, sugar is getting its just desserts." —The Economist
"Taubes builds his case through lawyerly layering of rich detail... Extraordinary and refreshing." —The Atlantic
"Taubes sifts through centuries’ worth of data... Practically everything one wants to know about sugar—its history, its geography, the addiction it causes—is here. In the end, each of us is confronted with a choice. Continue consuming sugar at our current level and suffer the ill effects. Or reduce, if not eliminate, it from our diet, thereby improving our odds of living a long, healthy life." —The Seattle Times
"I can't think of another journalist who has had quite as profound an influence on the conversation about nutrition." —Michael Pollan
“[The Case Against Sugar] should be required reading if only to understand the scope, power, and impact that Big Sugar has had on America’s health—or, perhaps more accurately, sickness.” —Outside
“Staggering… Taubes’s brilliant and accessible science writing has won him many fans.” —Booklist, starred review
"[Taubes] delivers another convincing book... Fascinating and illuminating.” —Library Journal
“[Taubes’s work is] compelling, as well as meticulously explained and researched. Readers will hate to love this book, since it will cause them to thoroughly rethink the place of sugar in their diets.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Taubes] helps us understand how to make better decisions regarding sugar as individuals and as a nation.” —Library Journal
“The obesity epidemic is an ever-growing threat to the overall health of our nation. In making the case against sugar, Gary Taubes details the often insidious efforts by the sugar industry to hide how harmful it is, just as the tobacco companies once did. This is required reading for not only every parent, but every American.” —Katie Couric
“No one in this country has worked harder on or better understood the role of sugar in our diet than Gary Taubes. As a journalist, an investigator, a scientist, and an advocate, he is without peer. (Plus, he knows how to write.) The Case Against Sugar is not only a terrific history but a forward-thinking document that can help us think more intelligently about how (and how not) to eat.” —Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything Fast
“Once again, the brilliant Gary Taubes manages to make a complex scientific subject easy to understand. The Case Against Sugar is a riveting history of ideas, a clear analysis of evidence, and an utterly persuasive argument that sugar is the new tobacco. Taubes methodically explains why sugar—not sloth, not fat—accounts for our unprecedented levels of obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Taubes answers every counter-argument as he exposes bad research, reveals conflicts of interest, and explodes myths.” —Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“I am grateful beyond words for Gary Taubes's courageous and meticulous documentation of the health dangers of sugar. No one has hit the political and economic forces behind this 'acceptable' addiction as clearly and unflinchingly. The information in this book will, quite literally, save your life if you apply it." —Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
“If you ever doubted that sugar is the root cause of our obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemic, then look no further than The Case Against Sugar. This deeply researched, well-reasoned exploration of the history and biology of sugar would convince any supreme court of nutrition that it is sugar, not fat, that should be indicted and limited. Doctors, scientists, policymakers, and concerned eaters would do well to heed Gary Taubes’s advice.” —Mark Hyman, M.D., author of The Blood Sugar Solution
“The Case Against Sugar is just that. It’s a carefully reasoned, persuasive account of how doubts about sugar in the modern diet were systematically overlooked for over a century. Gary Taubes has become an important voice in the debate surrounding nutrition. He once again presents a compelling argument that will challenge our knowledge about the connection between food and health—it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the impact of the ingredients we eat.” —Nathan Myhrvold, lead author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
About the Author
GARY TAUBES is the author of Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories. He is a former staff writer for Discover and a correspondent for the journal Science. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Esquire, and has been included in numerous “Best of” anthologies, including The Best of the Best American Science Writing (2010). He has received three Science in Society Journalism Awards from the National Association of Science Writers. He is the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research and a co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI). He lives in Oakland, California.
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For fans of Taubes who have read his two previous nutritional health classics--Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health and Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It--you already know his position on the negative implications of carbohydrates on the current state of chronic disease and health decline. In The Case Against Sugar, Taubes takes direct aim at the biggest culprit carb that is plaguing the health of those dealing with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more--it's SUGAR!
Some people might scoff at the idea that we need an entire book all about the dangers of consuming sugar claiming that it's obvious to most people that sugar is not good for you. But do they really know that? Walk into any grocery store, sporting event, amusement park, fast food restaurant, and anywhere else food is sold and you'll mostly see nothing but ambivalence regarding sugar from a great majority of the population based on their purchasing habits. Sugar has become so pervasive in our food supply that it's next to impossible to find anything to eat that doesn't have sugar in it (even spaghetti sauce, baked beans, yogurt, BBQ sauce, ketchup, fruit juice...the list goes on and on!).
As I just noted, sugar has become so ubiquitous in our society now that people don't even think twice about consuming it while simultaneously greatly fearing dietary fat as something they shouldn't consume. Taubes addresses the idea of how we became propagandized to believe fat is the enemy in our diet. Since the publication of The Case For Sugar, we've now learned that The Sugar Association paid off Harvard scientists to squelch the connection between sugar and heart disease and vilify saturated fat. It's fairly easy to see why The Case Against Sugar is needed now more than ever before. (Read the September 12, 2016 New York Times column on this topic entitled "How The Sugar Industry Shifted Blame To Fat": Google the title and you'll find it!)
If you're familiar with the work of Taubes, he goes very deeply into the subjects he writes about to get to the very core of the main issues at hand. He explains how we got to where we are today and puts the primary blame for the main instigator of pretty much all modern disease on sugar. That instigator is a condition known as insulin resistance (IR) where the pancreas has to work so hard at pumping out insulin to cover all the sugar we've been consuming that it's become worn out and doesn't function as it was intended anymore. The result of this is a much more difficult path to keep blood sugar and insulin levels normalized that requires people with IR to have to significantly cut down on the foods that turn to sugar in the body--all culprit carbohydrates. Or, as I like to refer to them, crappy carbage!
One of the excellent points Taubes makes in The Case For Sugar that will hopefully begin a public conversation of this concept is the modern argument against sugar has everything to do with "empty calories" they supposedly contain and not the hormonal effects it is having on our bodies. Bringing in the calorie argument gives license for people to continue eating sugar in the mythical "moderation" (which Taubes is very skeptical and no fan of). But the reality is the role sugar plays in your health goes so much deeper than their caloric effect, particularly for those people with insulin resistance where the damage is done. I know this fact all-too-well as someone who used to drink 16 cans of Coca-Cola daily before discovering these principles Taubes is sharing in his books requiring me to eat a low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diet for the rest of my life in order to stave off the health consequences of the damage that happened to my body from eating sugar.
Methodically looking through all the faulty science used to defend sugar, Taubes again goes into bulldog mode pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz to expose the facade we have been led to believe about sugar. What's most interesting is there were researchers like John Yudkin who understood these problems with consuming sugar way back in the 60s/70s, but he was quickly ignored and blacklisted by those who wanted to push the anti-fat message as a means for propping up sugar-peddling companies that stood to greatly benefit financially from the ignorance of the general public. And it worked because junk food full of carbohydrates is the norm on store shelves today! Now that we realize that Yudkin was right all along, Taubes is attempting to explain where we go from here to undo all the nutritional indoctrination. It's gonna be a steep uphill battle, but this book could very well be the beginning of the unraveling of the sugar ruse.
The Case Against Sugar should absolutely be required reading of every doctor, dietitian, teacher, parent, and anyone who wants to hear the truth about sugar that they're just not gonna get from mainstream media or any of the so-called leaders in the nutritional health industry. Gary Taubes has put his stamp on this subject as only he can presenting the evidence for the reader to absorb and come to their own conclusions. After reading this book, you can still choose to eat sugar. But at least you'll be armed with information about the entire picture on this subject instead of the one-sided view we've dealt with for the past 50 years. Consider this book the first shot across the bow challenging The Sugar Association head-on with facts and history that cannot be refuted. Now it's simply a matter of undoing decades of misinformation to stem the tide of chronic disease we are currently living through because of the promulgation of sugar.
It's a good read, though weighty, if you've been living a low carb, high fat life - he has a lot you can use to shut your detractors down. I recommend reading this, for your own health.
This book also talks about the criticisms of sugar that have been around for decades, centuries, and longer. People who study such things have always said, to avoid putting on weight, refrain from sugar. But apparently, that message got lost in the “war on fat,” which is now coming to an end. But not only does sugar tend to make people fatter, the process by which it makes you fat is by the flooding of insulin into the bloodstream, which leads to inflammation, and to the diseases which affect Western Civilization, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer and Alzheimer's disease. The thing about nutrition is that it is hard to predict with certainty how any one individual will react to any certain diet. Everything is in generalizations.
Because this is not a nutritional book, there is no discussion of honey or stevia. Maple syrup, molasses, etc. are mentioned as previous sugars that were used, but the health benefits of all variations of sugars are not discussed. This book is entirely about refined white sugar. The only way sugar substitutes are mentioned is in the story that the sugar industry worked hard to discredit saccharine and cyclamates and succeeded, although these substitutes probably aren’t that bad, and definitely not worse than sugar. People still view these sugar substitutes as dangerous. Most of what we think about sweeteners has been subliminally given to us through the sugar industry and their advertising.
The one take away from this book would be that refined sugar is not the innocent ingredient that some may think it to be. Giving someone a sweet treat is a way to show them love, but probably that line of thinking is going to change. The bottom line is to avoid sugar and refined starches, and for anyone who cares anything about nutrition, that message has been around a long time.
Having said that, I have a couple of criticisms, hence the three stars rating. (1) The book could have benefited from more aggressive editing. The text frequently drags and several chapter titles are poorly chosen. Ultimately, the author comes out as an industrious researcher but not the most thrilling writer in the land. (2) It lacks more information on the basics of human nutrition. There are glimpses here and there, but there should be a short chapter focused on explaining to the reader what happens in the human body when we eat. There is lots of history and industrial politics, but very little nutrition science. (3) The author hedges too much towards the end of the book. After more than two hundred pages building his case, he backs off by casting doubts over the causation between sugar intake and many diseases. Those hedges in the final chapters may have been an editorial demand, but they end up weakening the case and also make for a boring ingredient in the text.