Wednesday, June 6, 2012
BEER BELLY, MEET COLA GUT
Perhaps the most important news in nutrition these days is the focus on sugar as the main culprit behind the obesity epidemic. "Sugar causes fat" are the words of Dr. Robert Lustig of the University of California SF, pediatric endocrinologist. His message is taking hold -- sodas larger than 16 oz. will soon be banned at NYC restaurants, theatres, ball parks, and street carts.
Has soda been singled out unfairly, as the American Beverage Assn is claiming? Not when you consider the compelling formulas that make them so easy to consume in large amounts in a matter of minutes. If you drink just a 12 oz. Coke, that's 9 teaspoons of sugar that has to be immediately processed by your liver. (The liver processes sugar as well as alcohol.) Humans weren't designed to metabolize that much sugar so fast and to cope the liver stores the sugar as fat. That's why people who habitually consume more sugar (or alcohol) than their bodies can use get "beer bellies" or what my daughter calls cola guts. A bulging tummy is the hallmark of a toxic liver. Limiting cup sizes on soda is an attempt to stop some of the fastest flowing sugar to the livers of the population at large. Remember, we have laws to prevent kids from consuming alcohol, but there's nothing to stop them from drinking giant sodas. Soda might not impair them mentally, but the consequences to their health could last a lifetime.
The Beverage Assn is calling the link between sugar and obesity "false science" repeating the old, now disproved adage: "a calorie is a calorie." I can't help but be reminded of the tobacco companies when scientists first linked smoking to lung cancer.
Below is one of Dr. Lustig's videos (12 min.) about how sugar works. I hope you'll watch. It's a critical concept to understand. Even if you don't eat too much sugar yourself, it's a global health issue you'll be hearing a lot about into the future.
Note: 4.2 grams sugar = 1 tsp.