Ahhhh, another week, another journo looking to drop a few kilos in the limelight and yet another prime time television report on the evilness of sugar. This time from Channel 7’s Sunday Night. To date I have been reluctant to comment on the somewhat sensationalised media reports pointing the finger at sugar as the primary cause of the nation’s obesity issues. There are a few reasons for my hesitation.

Firstly, I feel as if the sugar story has been done to death over the past 12 months. Secondly, I feel as if we are somewhat arguing the obvious. And finally, it seems to be an argument in which scientific debate has been all too readily replaced with personal views—a strong-minded lawyer’s opinion and now the personal weight-loss experience of one of Australia’s favourite rugby sons.

Indeed, emotions will always generally beat logic, at least in a 3 minute television segment or within a few lines of a press release. So, here’s what I think, and I think I have a point of view that should at least be considered in this debate given that I see hundreds of people each year for weight loss.

Before we begin, and before you rush to empty the fruit bowl, let’s simply start our discussion with a small amount of context. Much of the recent Australian media hype surrounding the health issues associated with sugar consumption have been pushed by a single, unqualified, powerfully speaking, legally trained professional who himself found dietary success by eliminating “sugar” from his diet.

What is less frequently discussed in this context is that if you eliminate processed food from your diet you will lose weight. In fact, by eliminating anything from your diet, whether it is sugar, alcohol, fat or processed carbohydrates, you will lose weight. Unfortunately this is not an exciting media story.

Many of us already know that a natural diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and dairy will control your weight long term and the reality is that a pie at the footy or a bag of red frogs at the movies are often all too appealing for the average person to maintain these “elimination” styles of dieting.

Instead, if we declare sugar as the new evil enemy and as the primary cause of obesity, now we have a great headline, with a convincing lawyer as readily available TV and radio talent to back it up.

There is nothing toxic about sugar. If sugar was toxic, fruit would not be based on it and the argument against fructose is scientifically incorrect. I don’t want to bore you with hours and hours of biochemistry but basically many of claims made in titles such as Sweet Poison are sensationalised and ill-informed.

Now, before all the “sugar detox” converts start sending in passionate replies defending the movement, please take some time to consider what else I have to say.

The issue we have is not with sugar itself – the issue is with processed carbohydrates and these are very different things. Processed carbohydrates refer to any form of carbohydrate containing food that is not in a naturally occurring state. For example, fruit bars versus fruit itself, or white bread versus quinoa or high fructose corn syrup versus corn.

When any form of carbohydrate - whether it be sugar, wheat or fruit - is processed it results in higher than normal releases of glucose into the bloodstream. High and fluctuating blood glucose levels are what make us fat over time.

So, I am not defending sugar, rather stating the fact that isolating sugar is simply demonstrating a lack of understanding of physiology, biochemistry and ultimately fat metabolism.

Over the past 10 to 20 years, the Western world has seen rapid rises in obesity, diabetes and possibly some cancers as our diet contains too many processed carbohydrates and because we spend far too much time sitting down.

Sugar to some degree may be a part of it, but when we speak of sugar we are really speaking about processed foods, not the sugar that most people are thinking of, and the one which slightly ignorant individuals are kicking around in the media as the biggest of all dietary evils.

Anyway, as a practicing clinician, all I am interested in is useful messages that my clients can take away to help them control their weight and their glucose levels for life. So, what does this mean within the sugar story? It means get rid of as much processed carbohydrate from your diet as possible – the white bread, sweetened yoghurts and desserts, snack foods, juice, extra sauces and syrups.

This way you not only get rid of the added sugars but you also get rid of the processed carbs which are doing you the damage, long term. A piece of fruit does not make you fat, but a highly refined carbohydrate diet will, and this is what most of us still have, with or without the sugar.

But most importantly, you need to move your body more, because the more you move your body, the more efficiently the muscles learn to burn the carbohydrates, including sugars.

Eliminating the sugar may help you lose 13kg quickly, but moving your body for the rest of your life, cutting back on the beers after footy and avoiding heavily refined carbohydrates will keep you lean for life.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • John says:

      06:01am | 12/03/12

      I tend to think bread is an issue, wheat is an issue. I’ve been reading that wheat has a compound that stops the body from stating it’s full. The more you eat the more you tell your body your not full. It’s amazing that fast food joint always tend to sell breads, salts and sugars. It’s like dealing a form of drug.

    • Emma says:

      06:26am | 12/03/12

      That depends on the bread you eat. If you eat for example pumpernickel you will notice it is healthy and it fills you up like nothing else. But the bun around a hamburger does not really classify as “bread”.

    • MrMac says:

      08:55am | 12/03/12

      Is there anything more substantial than anecdote to that claim of “a compound”, John?

    • Anne71 says:

      12:47pm | 12/03/12

      Personally, I just follow the principle of “everything in moderation”.  As long as the majority of your diet is healthy - ie unprocessed foods, plenty of vegetables, etc - then the occasional hamburger, chocolate bar or glass of wine is not going to hurt you. It’s when most of your diet is comprised of takeaway, chocolate and alcohol that the trouble starts. Lighten up!

    • Anne71 says:

      12:47pm | 12/03/12

      Personally, I just follow the principle of “everything in moderation”.  As long as the majority of your diet is healthy - ie unprocessed foods, plenty of vegetables, etc - then the occasional hamburger, chocolate bar or glass of wine is not going to hurt you. It’s when most of your diet is comprised of takeaway, chocolate and alcohol that the trouble starts. Lighten up!

    • Audra Blue says:

      03:18pm | 12/03/12

      I have a very cranky digestive system, probably from years of fad dieting and eating our typical Western processed diet.  So my range of foods is very limited and I can’t handle any form of processing food.  Providing I stick to eating fresh stuff only, I can handle a Twix bar maybe once a month.  Any more than that and I bloat for about 3 days straight.

      I suppose I should be grateful that my body is forcing me to make better choices but it’s difficult to eat out because everything is carb based in our society: bread, pasta, white rice, sugar.

      Added to all that crap is the fact that I can only eat about a handful of food at a time otherwise my stomach distends and I can hardly breathe.  Plus I have to leave at least 4-5 hours between each meal otherwise, again, I feel bloated and awful because my stomach takes ages to digest it all.

    • Kerryn says:

      06:08am | 12/03/12

      Reading this just as I’m about to hit the bike to get to work.  I know I’ve said it a million times but losing weight slowly and forming good habits feels so much better than these “quick diet fixes”.  I’m more likely to jump on the bike or go for a walk every day than I am to give up my chocolates and other assorted junk food.  Get into good habits and the weight takes care of itself, my goal when I first started exercising was to stop getting the flu 5-6 times a year - got a bit of a shock when I noticed my tummy was flatter one morning!

    • Emma says:

      06:23am | 12/03/12

      I dont know why this is presented as something new. It is common knowledge that processed foods are not good - for more reasons than just weight gain btw.

      It actually annoys me that media and so called experts hit is with new “revelations” on what to eat and what not to eat, as if the reason we gained weight was an utter mystery. There is no need for weight loss drinks or Jenny Craig foods.
      Its pretty simple:
      1. Eat less.
      2. Eat less crap.

      I know people are tempted to try different ways of weight loss because losing weight is hard work and we are hoping for some kind of super solution that will make it less hard work. That is not going to happen. So we better watch our weight and do something about it, when you are some 2-5 kgs over rather than when you have to lose 20 kgs.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      02:42pm | 12/03/12

      I’d also add
      3. get up off your backside and do some exercise

      It’s so simple but as the author states, that doesn’t sell stories.

    • J says:

      06:36am | 12/03/12

      Look at sugar becoming cheap and available vs average weight. It is obviously not to do with execercise. I doubt we execercise less than our ancestors in recent centuries.

    • Emma says:

      07:06am | 12/03/12

      Seriously? How many people had a car 200 years ago that they could take to the non-existent McDonalds around the corner? And already all the house work that resembled a whole work-out session. No washing machine or kneading your own bread every morning at 5 am.

    • M says:

      07:30am | 12/03/12

      Yes J, you are 100% correct. We should tax sugar and make it economically unviable, ‘cause cheap sugar is what’s ruining society. Our modern lifestyle is just as physically exhausting as it was 500 years ago. Electricity and the internal combustion engine have had no effects whatsoever.

    • gobsmack says:

      07:31am | 12/03/12

      Yes and the only reason our ancestors had open fire places in the lounge room was so that all the couch potatoes had something to watch.

    • LDLS says:

      07:34am | 12/03/12

      Don’t ‘exececise’ less than our ancestors?
      You mean when they actually foraged for their own food or when they used horses for transport or before we had supermarkets or before we onlined our lives?

      Exercise used to be a normal part of everyday living before this modern era.  Now it’s an added extra to most people’s lives.  No way do we exercise the same or more than our ancestors naturally.

      Some people are just smart enough to know our new lifestyles need an exercise boost.

    • Kika says:

      11:42am | 12/03/12

      Foods like meat were also an occasional treat for those hunter-gatherer ancestors. Even only up to th 50’s a chicken was a once a year occasion - now it’s everyday.  I think as our lifestyle has become lazier and food has become over abundant and cheap we’ve got fatter. It’s as simple as that.

    • thatmosis says:

      06:40am | 12/03/12

      This sugar thing is just the latest in “bad” things that we are told are no good for us. As you stated if you give up anything you will lose weight and the problem as i see it is not sugar or carbohydrates but shopping trolly’s. 
        Next time you are in a supermarket have a look at the trolly’s of people who are overweight or obese. They contain more of everything that is deemed bad in abundance. Have a look also at the eating habits of those who are fat or obese in cafes and see what delights they are stuffing into thier mouths by the truckful.
        This can only mean one thing if looked at logically, its not the food that is the problem but the people and their diets. Anything in moderation cant be bad for you but its a trend to go over the top and stuff as much as possible into ones self that is causing the problem and a boon for wankers with axes to grind and diets to sell.

    • Kika says:

      11:49am | 12/03/12

      Exactly @Thatmosis…. the overweight people have all of those things we would all love to pig out on, yet they don’t have the ability to see (or they do but they ignoring it).

    • ZSRenn says:

      04:26pm | 12/03/12

      Don’t you get it. Sugar causes diabetes. It is a massive drain on our health bills . They can’t ban sugar or run a sugar eaters are dirty campaign. So the government real out some experts and with the help of it’s propaganda machine, the Australian media, try to convince us sugar is the enemy when it comes to looking good. 

      Why they can’t tell the truth on this one is beyond me!

    • craig2 says:

      07:19pm | 12/03/12

      @ZSRenn: “Sugar causes Diabetes” hell of a statement! I hope you were being sarcastic with this line?

    • M says:

      06:58am | 12/03/12

      It amuses me no end to see people having low fat milk in their coffee or tea as if it were the cause of their expanding waistlines.

    • Skye says:

      08:30am | 12/03/12

      My favourite is people eating a plate of hot chips with a diet coke!!  Because the ‘diet’ cancels out the high amount of saturated fat!

    • Paulina says:

      10:21am | 12/03/12

      @ Skye, even funnier, is people thinking that it is the saturated fat in a bowl of hot chips that is doing the damage. It’s the carbs that are the problem! Also these days they would probably be fried in some type of polyunsaturated fat which has it’s own problems.

    • lv says:

      01:25pm | 12/03/12

      I assure you, it is the fat thats the problem, not the potatos. You could eat nothing but potatos and you would not gain weight.

    • Little Joe says:

      07:15am | 12/03/12

      Sensationalised story!!!

      Prime time media special!!

      The great “Sugar Tax” is coming!!!

    • Bernd Wechner says:

      07:21am | 12/03/12

      Very valid points but it’s hard to plot a course through the jungle.

      In a sense the simplification that it’s processed foods that are generically worrying and hence and anti-processed food campaign is no more useful than an anti-sugar stance. Not least becuase if you start reading the ingredients on processesd food you’ll find that the ubiquity of sugar in them (tomato sauce runs at 30% not uncommonly) is part of the problem, and have you tried buying a yoghurt (other than plain) that didn’t taste like a candy sweet? We have one brand in Tasmania (Westhaven) that still produces yoghurt with alittle fruit (yep, milk, aciphillus and a little fruit).  Needless to say I vote fro them with my dollars.

      Sugar is ofent hidden under many fancy names and formats. In Europe as sugar started to lose popularity the fashion was to sweeten with concentrated pear juice. Like that’s really any better.

      There’s a lot to be said for fighting the battles you might win rather than too many spread too thin.

      I see great positive outcomes if as a society we achieve a small handful of things through any awareness campaign, and sugar is a fine proxy to achive it in my book (the utilitarian view wink:

      1)  That people take a real interest in what they eat

      2) That people read the ingredients on all the processsed food they buy and favour the better ones (thus exerting market pressure on that list as a selection criterion) and abandon the blind assumption that a processed food is nutritious, exercising instead the cycnicism that it has been designed to appeal, not least to children who exert pressure on their parent’s wallets.

      3) That the sweet tooth of the nation gets milder. Having reduced my sugar intake a decade ago (not cut it out, I concur, sugar ain’t evil, nor fruit to my mind). The current sweet palate of Australians reminds me of the someone who on bright sunny day comes inside - everything is black, so they turn the light on. But those inside already don’t get it, see a waste fo energy and/or are blinded by the brighteness. So too I found my palate adjust as I reduced sugar. What was a nice apple pie, a year later was horrid candy sensation. I now make apple pies. And the only difference between mine and those I’d buy at a bakery is very likely that mine are made of pastry and apples and theirs are made of pastry, apples, sugar (and thickners ... etc.). I find mine very popular wherever I take them. They taste like apple pies not like candy bars wink. This one change, in the palette of the nation would please me and I wouldn’t be having a conversation about sweet so often, we’d have the understanding, any more than I have regular conversations and saturated fats (we have the understanding).

      In raising a daughter (now 8) we follwed two guiding rpinciples:

      1) Reduce refined sugar intake to near zero

      2) Provide refined sugar foods but NOT as a reward, NOT as a treat, with utility as the context. We eat them mainly when exerting, on bush walks for example or bike rides.  The aim of this principle is to ensure that there is no overt negative judgment of prohibition that secures a teenagers rebellion into suggar addiction. The aim is to ensure that sugar is nt made evil. But that we are aware and we eat natural, cook outselves, don’t add sugar, read ingredients, favour things with less unwanted stuff in them (and yes this relates to all those other processed things with number codes wink. We read about what they are and learn about them, and take an interest in what we consume.

      This second point is the one many religious campaigners against sugar or fat or anything else forget I find. Moderation is far more useful. The palate adjusts and what we’ve found is that at a birthday party, I have an 8 year old who’s scraped the icing off the sponge cake because she doesn’t like it. And she has friends who eat it for her because they love it. Neither is at fault. Their palates are simply different. It is not overly hard to steer they palate.

      I have a problem with the assumption that collectively we wille ever understand things correctly. To begin with the science evolves, that is the peak of our societal understanding changes. Secondly we are a mass of diverse people with highly diverse language and reasoning skills, motivations and lifestyles. Empirically we’ve observed that the only way to really affect the nation’s conscience is to simplify, to fight a targetted battle well, get a simple mesage across. And if that message is perhaps bothersome to some who grow tired of it, or smarties who can see that it’s over simple and that the issues are broader and more complex, that’s fine too. But the battle is not bad for that. It is simply how communicating as a nation works.

    • Myron Gaines says:

      07:23am | 12/03/12

      I lost 20lbs last couple of months, while eating probably 100-200g of sugar. Sugar turns into glucose just like any other carb. Calories in>calories out are the reason why obesity is a problem.

    • Bruce Bromley says:

      04:16pm | 12/03/12

      Sugar is Sucrose!
      Sucrose is 50% Glucose, 50% Fructose (this is basic science) so IT DOES NOT TURN INTO GLUCOSE as it is already 50% glucose.
      Your body needs glucose for brain & muscle function.
      The other 50%, the fructose poisons your body!

    • Meph says:

      12:28pm | 13/03/12

      fructose poisons your body? So basically you’re saying that the naturally occurring sugars in pretty much all fruit and vegetables is toxic?

      Obvious troll is obvious I guess. But if not, then maybe you should look into the greater scourge of dihydrogen monoxide, it kills more people each year worldwide than pretty much anything else, but you never hear about the evils of it!

    • Kipling says:

      07:25am | 12/03/12

      It’s all about selling stuff at the end of the day.

      Some say the “processed food” idea is common knowledge, yet this hardly seems reasonable, given that one does not get a paper “funded” for publishing if it slams the very producers of processed foods for example. Bare in mind when reading the evidence, one must look into who funded the publishing of such evidence.

      Also the point was well made, we (humans) don’t generally care too much for the facts - we care about what feels good and what we are comfortable with, consequences are irrelevant until they hit home…

      It can be extremely hard to avoid processed foods at every turn, however, to minimise ones intake has got to be a healthier choice. Of course, that may be a fact and therefore irrelevant…

    • Emma says:

      07:59am | 12/03/12

      We all eat processed stuff sometimes. And we all like to overindulge and eat bad things. I think people get scared of the whole losing weight thing because they think they now have to go for zero chocolate, zero pizza and zero coke. That is not true. Just be reasonable.

    • tracy says:

      07:25am | 12/03/12

      After 10 years on predinisone due to RA, depression sunk in big time. In turn, I ate and I ate a lot. My body became quite large, and I saw and heard the whispers. The downhill spiral spun out of control.

      Thank God I moved away from my hometown, and was able to see things fresh and new. I now juice veggies, and walk. The weight is still there, but someday it will be gone.

      We don’t know what people are going through…..the bombardment of healthy eating did not so a thing for me. btw I do have a BA in Public Health….

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:37am | 12/03/12

      The most annoying thing about the “fat tax” we’re being slowly prepared for by our Lords and Masters right now is that (and I include myself in this) we thoroughly deserve it.

      It’s a simple fact that we don’t do a terribly good job of looking after ourselves, with obvious exceptions.

    • M says:

      08:02am | 12/03/12

      So you want even more government intrusion into our lives?

      Australia, the happy police state.

    • Justmeint says:

      09:31am | 12/03/12

      FAT is not the evil baddie… we need it to survive. Sugar on the other hand in its processed form is unnatural and we can live without it. FAT TAX is simply and excuse for getting more money into the coffers and to help make the budget look better than it actually is!

    • LDLS says:

      07:39am | 12/03/12

      Thanks Susie.  I first heard of this on the radio.  Ex TV presenter had a book to sell and her colleagues could help by promoting it.  All I heard was a load of New Age gobbledygook about a very old subject.

      You’ve summed it up brilliantly.  Stop looking for quick fixes and stop putting rubbish in your bodies.  Add a dose of exercise in the form you enjoy and you have the only formula needed for a healthy lfe.

    • onlooker says:

      07:42am | 12/03/12

      We eat to much! Fast food is to readily available now. Parents rather than say no too their kids when they ask for junk, not only give in but eat it themselves. We exercise to little, so the fat and sugar is not burnt off. A few kilos over probably won’t hurt anyone but when your so large you need to buy virtually a circus tent to wear, when people can’t move past you in the shopping aisle, then you have a serious health problem. I am seeing super large parents with super large children everywhere I go now. These parents need to wake up, food is not the answer, they are shortening their lives and lives of their children. Sugar probably is a problem, but sugar has been around for quite awhile, and we have not seen the ballooning backsides we are seeing now.

    • Bruce Bromley says:

      04:20pm | 12/03/12

      “We eat to much”
      Maybe research Lepton and its role in the body and how Fructose disables it!!!

    • sir ronald bradnam says:

      07:44am | 12/03/12

      2000 calories is what an average person needs more or less, age weight, height, gender and activity level also play a part in determining your calorie intake level.
      A few other effects include your metabolism, the thermic effect of the food, the time of day you eat and mix of food you consume at these times that is why there is no one single reason, cause why you put on weight. However if you are to break it down to its simplest component, you need to burn more calories than you consume.
      There is always somebody in a paper, online, on TV blaming sugar, carbohydrates, wheat, processed foods, the government for its policies, the simple fact is if you consume 2000 calories a day and burn 3000 with activity of any form you will lose 1 Kg per week, undisputable fact.
      So what is responsible, its simple we are, personal responsibility if I put on weight it is my fault, not Mcdonalds advertising not Coca Cola not KFC, but me and that is the same with every individual in society. If you are fat it is your fault not mine or the governments.

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:48am | 12/03/12

      You say
      “What is less frequently discussed in this context is that if you eliminate processed food from your diet you will lose weight. In fact, by eliminating anything from your diet, whether it is sugar, alcohol, fat or processed carbohydrates, you will lose weight. Unfortunately this is not an exciting media story.

      Many of us already know that a natural diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and dairy will control your weight long term…”

      ummmmm no. This isn’t exactly true either.

      I could spend all day eating apples, for example, and still gain weight because I consumed 15,000kj. That is far too much for my dietary and energy requirements.

      What you need to do is maintain a reasonable amount for food from natural sources ensuring you consume around 8,000-10,000kj per day depending on your exercise levels. I walk an hour every day, run (not jog or walk) 5-7kms and do an hour of weights 5-6 times per week so I put myself slightly towards the upper end of the kj intake range.

      Sugar isn’t necessarily bad. A university professor proved this because he ate nothing but doughnuts for a month and lost weight because he only consumed 6,000kj per day and exercised on top of this. That’s probably about 3 Krispy Kreme “donuts” (j/k). Avoiding sugary foods is probably a good idea, though.

    • Greg says:

      08:32am | 12/03/12

      What did he ‘prove’? Excess sugar in the diet in the long term has been associated with other health risks than simply being overweight. This discussion seems to be reflecting the same distortion that the media figure’s book does. Or do we all think that diabetes and heart disease and other major medical problems don’t really matter as long as you look good?

    • justmeint says:

      09:34am | 12/03/12

      sugar is being found (carbs) to be the real baddie in cholesterol deposition…..... forget the fat is bad (with the exception of transfats and synthetics and polyunsaturates), insulin problems are the underlying issues with high cholesterol numbers and plaques…. do some reading on this

    • Tubesteak says:

      12:23pm | 12/03/12

      He proved that sugar or “bad foods” aren’t necessarily the problem. Rather it’s the amount of kilojoules consumed that makes you fat. Agree, though, that if you maintained such a diet for a long time that you would have other health concerns due to poor nutrition.

      Yes, we only have a certain level of insulin to produce. Once we exceed that we eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

    • morrgo says:

      03:35pm | 12/03/12

      Go ahead, do try to eat so much of apples only as to exceed your daily energy needs.

    • Tim says:

      07:58am | 12/03/12

      Thanks Susie. What you and the other experts that I’ve read are saying seems to come down to a simple enough recipe: “Eat real food (low or no processing). Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Don’t smoke. Lead an active life.” That seems to be working for me.

    • Anna C says:

      08:59am | 12/03/12

      I walk to work 5 days a week and try to eat healthy. I never add sugar (or salt) to anything that I prepare or cook. What I have a real problem with is all the hidden sugar in foods and drinks that we buy.  Why do lots of fruit juices have more sugar in them then soft drinks? People think they are making a healthier choice by opting for the fruit juice but they’re not. That’s why I pretty much stick to drinking water instead and prefer to eat my fruit rather than drinking it.

      I think food manufacturers should be pressured to reduce the amount of hidden sugar and salt in all products by 50%. Reading the labels is just too bloody complicated and time consuming for most people.

    • JustmeinT says:

      09:37am | 12/03/12

      Reading the labels is just too bloody complicated and time consuming for most people. .... YOU want to abrogate responsibility? We can all choose what we put into our bodies….. table sugar is glucose PLUS fructose…....  Fructose is handled differently by the liver….. READ up on how it is metabolised…... think FAT deposition

    • Kika says:

      01:40pm | 12/03/12

      I think the sugar in juice would be natural fructose from the fruit. I don’t think labelling has to differentiate between glucose, fructose or sucrose unfortunately.

    • SimonFromLakemba says:

      09:39am | 12/03/12

      Cool song, good choice!

    • Marie says:

      10:01am | 12/03/12

      If you are interested in the biochemistry behind sugar digestion, watch “The Bitter Truth” video on youtube. It’s by a real doctor and university professor and he explains why sugar is toxic.

    • Noelene says:

      10:07am | 12/03/12

      I have been eating healthy for years, watching the amount I eat and despite having a very physical job, partake in extra exercise as well. I have even seen a nutritionist who tells me I am eating very sensibly and not to change anything. But I continued to be over weight. And it is only recently when I decided to eliminate sugar, meaning fructose, from my diet that my weight has started to drop off. I make the occasional dessert with dextrose and I still eat one to two pieces of fruit each day by the way…it is just all of the hidden sugars I am eliminating.

      The big thing I have noticed, and I am a dieter from way back, is that I don’t crave food anymore as I did in past diets with controlled calorie intakes. I don’t have the perpetual hunger that many diets left me with. And I am really not eating that much at all now compared to past diets and yet feel very satisfied. I actually now only eat when I do start to feel a little ‘peckish’ and even then am quickly satisfied.

      So I believe that cutting sugar out has given me back control of my food intake. And when I feel hungry, I try and listen to my body for what it really needs i.e. I think of what I really feel like eating at that time. Sometimes I feel like a steak, sometimes it will be an orange, sometimes it is my museli and plain yoghurt. But the point is I am losing weight following this no sugar diet….and yes it has gotten rid of processed foods, but the carbs are there if I want them….. I just don’t seem to most times.

    • Claire says:

      10:13am | 12/03/12

      Personally, I don’t understand why so many people (and to a massive degree Drs and nutritionists, and dieticians) are so up in arms about the suggestion that sugar makes you fat and unhealthy.  It’s not new information.  It’s how elite athletes and body builders and Hollywood stars have been living for DECADES.  They are healthy and fabulous looking individuals and they’ll all tell you that their diet is THE most important aspect in being lean.  The excercise compliments it, defines our muscles nicely, and keeps our hearts healthy but it’s our dietry intake that’s the key and quite specifically they all say they don’t eat sugar.  There is NOTHING nutritious in table sugar.  So, please, people who are supposed to be there to help other people learn about weight control and nutrition and health, why are you so cranky that someone is standing up and trying to spread the word that we shouldn’t eat the stuff? You SHOULD be supporting this information because it’s true.  I mean, you just said so in this article that refined and processed sugar is bad.  That’s what the Sweet Poison book says too. And sure, weight control might just be about calories in v calories out but there’s more to good nutrition than just weight control.  If I eat my 2000 calories in donuts every day (as per the above example) I may not be fat but I will defintiely not be well nourished and I’d be incredibly concerned about my cholesterol levels and heart health.  If people are concentrating on keeping sugar out of their diet then they will naturally then be concentrating on eating things that aren’t refined and processed because that is what doesn’t have sugar in it.  THIS IS A GOOD THING.  Get on board and support this man.  Compliment his research (because he’s not just some dumb lawyer. He’s an intelligent individual - you’ve kinda gotta be to complete a law degree, right? - who has done a whole bunch of research).  If you think he’s missing some info re nutrition, then come alongside him and help him learn even more and add to it yourselves but stop with the ridiculous arguement that I keep reading from the ‘experts” that he is giving information that is wrong.  And stop referring to cutting out sugar as the same as cutting out any food group as though sugar is some kind of food group.  What’s the real issue?  Don’t want to give up your chocolate and ice cream or don’t want to admit that someone from outside the industry could be onto something?

    • Mark says:

      10:27am | 12/03/12

      I think the Doctors, nutritionists and dieticians are up in arms because a lawyer and ex football player air getting more done to tackle obesity than they are.

    • Sarahh says:

      12:53pm | 12/03/12

      I think nutritionists/dieticians etc are getting up in arms because weight loss is a big business. I’ve read the book, if anyone is sensationalizing the issue at hand here it’s the author of this column. Gillespie has taken pains to make sure everything he’s done or stated is correctly researched. I recommend the book to anyone who’s interested in this topic because it’s far more than this ridiculous idea that even eating fruit is bad.

    • Kika says:

      01:48pm | 12/03/12

      I’ve never ever come across an obese person who was overweight from eating too much fruit.
      “Oh man I shouldn’t have eaten that apple… I’ve already had a banana today… damn. Back to the gym tomorrow”

    • Mel says:

      02:15pm | 12/03/12

      Here here Claire! Don’t judge a book til you’ve read it! Which I have. We’ve gone ‘sugar free’ as best we can since New Year. Still eat fats, meat etc. But we’ve lost weight. Haven’t changed our exercise routine.
      The hard part is buying processed food without sugar in it’s pure form or a hidden derivative. I don’t eat much fruit as it is. Have tried to eat lots of fruit over a period of time to see if I felt any better, and all I got was sick and bloated.
      And Kika, you are simplifying the issue. The food world has become obsessed with ‘low fat’ and often replaces the taste you lose from lower fat with sugar. You just have to look at how much fatter we have become as a species since the wholesale increase in sugar production and consumption.

    • gavin says:

      10:14am | 12/03/12

      i watched that report last night, what i found funny was the evils of sugar, followed up by an episode of my kitchen rules where they had to make desserts.

    • antman says:

      01:36pm | 12/03/12

      And, in Perth, an ad for the stage show of Mary Poppins in the middle.

    • subotic says:

      10:18am | 12/03/12

      Eat well. Stay fit. Die anyway.

      Now, give me my sugar fix.

      Via Bundy rum and lashings of coke.

    • Kika says:

      11:46am | 12/03/12

      And BBQ Dog?

    • subotic says:

      12:12pm | 12/03/12

      If you rock up Kika we can burn a human child or foetus for you to chow down on.

      We don’t discriminate against cannibals or child abusers around here.

    • Kika says:

      01:38pm | 12/03/12

      Why is a baby any less worthy to eat than a dog? One is my baby the other is yours.

    • C says:

      10:18am | 12/03/12

      For those who haven’t read David Gillespie’s book I just wanted to clarify that Gillespie doesn’t suggest long term elimination of fruit.  He suggests that fruit is restricted to 1-2 pieces a day, as per current recommendations.  Additionally, re calories in calories out, that seems to be Gillespie’s whole point.  Once sugar is eliminated from our diets, our bodies are MUCH better able to modify our own calorie intake without counting them.  For this I can personally attest as, after quitting sugar 7 weeks ago, I simply can’t/don’t eat as much, little snacking and smaller meal portions.  This is not because I am depriving myself but I’m just too full and I don’t feel the need to snack any more.  When I do, I do.  Also, as a result of eliminating sugar, many, many, many processed foods and simple carbohydrates are automatically eliminated.  As a result, many of the stated arguments in this article are actually in keeping with the quit sugar message.

    • Jane says:

      10:56am | 12/03/12

      This makes so much sense - the main point being that high consumption of sugar messes up with your ability to naturally regulate your hunger.

      And how many processed foods have sugar as one of their top few ingredients?

    • Kika says:

      01:49pm | 12/03/12

      I only eat 1 or two pieces a day. MAYBE 3 if I feel the need. But I’ve never heard of anyone getting fat from eating too much fruit.

    • Fiona says:

      02:08pm | 12/03/12

      I have read the book. Most commenting on here probably haven’t. Don’t judge a theory until you have read it. Then sure, make up your own mind.
      Kika, you haven’t got the point of C’s comment. Try reading the book to understand, but judging by your commentary in the Punch, I doubt you do much research before opening your mouth ....

    • Mike H says:

      10:51am | 12/03/12

      Gillespie is accused of over-simplifying with the no-fructose (except whole fruit) approach, but the same can be said of energy in/energy out. It’s a mostly-true simplification that’s easy to understand, but not the whole story.

      For example:
      - how do you increase energy out without increasing appetite too much?
      - how do you decrease energy without feeling too hungry or tired?
      - does the body treat every kJ consumed the same way in all conditions? Highly doubtful.
      - does the body effectively use stored fat as fuel in someone who is constantly feeding themselves a lot carbohydrates? Probably not.

      The body is more complex than a bucket of kilojoules from which deposits and withdrawals can be made.

      When you bring appetite and overall nutrition back into the equation I think there is a good case for limiting carbohydrates and sugar.
      Getting most of your energy from fat (Omega 3 preferable to Omega 6; seafood and grass fed beef preferable to grain fed beef and processed meats) and most of the volume on your plate from vegetables is a pretty good start to getting your body into a state where it can correctly self-regulate that energy in-out equation, and keep you satisfied. There is evidence that fructose is not just an ‘empty’ calorie.

    • Duane says:

      11:06am | 12/03/12

      ‘...Much of the recent Australian media hype…’ Got it in one. ‘Nuff said.

    • Alan says:

      11:07am | 12/03/12

      The funniest thing about Channel 7’s programming - follw an anti-sugar rant with a cooking show that focussed on the use of sugar - which particular idiot set that up?

    • Cynicised says:

      11:07am | 12/03/12

      Oh hoofreakinray for some intelligent, informed commentary on the latest “food evil” fad! I get so annoyed by the exaggeration and misinformation which is bandied about as some sort of revelatory “truth” and the uneducated believe. . No, sugar isn’t evil, but guess what,  stuffing put faces with highly refined foods and drinking too much alcohol is not a great idea. *shock!*

    • Des says:

      02:34pm | 12/03/12

      But what is it about processed foods and alcohol that makes it so bad? Oh that would be SUGAR and trans fats…. it’s not the bloody oxygen molecules that’s for sure!

    • Cynicised says:

      04:43pm | 12/03/12

      It is the over consumption of these nutrients that is the “bad”. Demonizing sugar as a toxin is just plain wrong, it isn’t a poison full stop, unless you’re diabetic.

      Highly refined foods lack the complex nutrients of whole food. Nutrition, which powers our physiology is about achieving balance, which doesn’t happen when too much of any one nutrient is absorbed.

    • Amac says:

      12:10pm | 12/03/12

      Good one Red Bandana Boy there goes a lot of hard working Sugar Cane farmers and their families down the gurgler.
      GO and do an interview with them - they will show you how to lose 20kg of sausages - by doing a decent hard days work with them and stressing over how to pay their bills.
      (PS every time I see that Red Bandana it makes me angry - can’t explain why…it just does.)

    • Melissa says:

      01:51pm | 12/03/12

      Would you show the same amount of idignation, if the farmers were growing lets say opium, sugar is being shoved into everything we buy and the effects on our health are proving to be extreme.  I personally love sugar, but we simply get to much of it,  but we will just keep on ruining our own and our childrens health so we dont upset the farmers

    • Mike says:

      02:20pm | 12/03/12

      Do you care about tobacco farmers? They just want to feed their families too. The sugar industry on the Sunshine Coast died years ago, farms sold up and the mill closed. Did you care then? Would you care if all Maccas were closed down? Thousands of kids out of work…..

    • Amac says:

      05:36pm | 12/03/12

      Yes, I have read ‘Sweet Poison’ from cover to cover so I do get the point but I also personally know families who are struggling and are affected by sugar mills struggling and threat of closure.

      I am most indignant about the one sided reporting of the show.

      Soon, and it will be soon, when you are spooning cheap, imported sugar full of bugs and rubbish into your tea you remember your anti Aussie sugar cane farmer stance.

      Who exactly is shoving the sugar into everything you buy?
      Why are you buying processed food anyway? Oh my guess is you both live in the city and food comes from the supermarket. You don’t even know any farmers. You dont know jack.

    • The Sage says:

      01:41pm | 12/03/12

      Claire’s comment above is the best written post I have read in a long while. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you have intelligently written.
      Anne’s comment above is the opposite extreme. The logic here regarding cane farmers losing business is like saying we should endorse heroin use to support poppy growing families in Afghanistan. If a farmer chooses to grow a crop that has massive negative impact on people’s lives through obesity then they deserve to go broke.
      The biggest problem for a parent like me is actually finding healthy food for my children on outings and excursions. We were at a roller coaster park in the USA recently where you were not allowed to bring food into the park. The only food being sold inside the park was the usual highly refined rubbish that the USA is infamous for. Made for a hungry days entertainment.
      It is so hard to eat out these days when everything tastes soooooo sweet and salty.
      As another poster mentioned; this concept of refined sugar being largely responsible for obesity and heart disease is decades old information but maybe the general population will start to understand and act appropriately.

    • Kika says:

      01:43pm | 12/03/12

      Why was my post about dairy not posted?  It’s relevant! Over consumption of dairy (mentioned by the author in the article as being part of a healthy diet) contibutes substantially to obesity. It’s unnecessary for calcium absorption (and also contributes TO osteoporosis) and is designed to grow cows!! No wonder we’re all fat.

    • Elsa says:

      02:18pm | 12/03/12

      Can you please supply a empirical reference to your comment?

      Maybe dairy makes you fat because of the lactose (SUGAR) in it? Just a thought….

    • Ben C says:

      02:46pm | 12/03/12

      @ Kika

      It happens - many comments get lost in the Punch software.

      @ Elsa

      I’ll put this to you: Why do people drink skim milk to lose weight? Skim milk has the fat content removed from it, which will then make the sugar concentration higher.

    • M says:

      02:53pm | 12/03/12

      I drink lots of fullcream milk and eat plenty of cheese and I’m not fat. Theory de-bunked.

    • gravy says:

      07:34pm | 12/03/12

      Saw in a BBC doco (the truth about food i think it was called) where they found eating dairy daily actually helps people lose weight and lessens the symptoms of PMS. Excessive consumption of anything is going to make you put on weight tho, even fruit!

    • The Sage says:

      01:43pm | 12/03/12

      Claire’s comment above is the best written post I have read in a long while. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you have intelligently written.
      Amac’s comment above is the opposite extreme. The logic here regarding cane farmers losing business is like saying we should endorse heroin use to support poppy growing families in Afghanistan. If a farmer chooses to grow a crop that has massive negative impact on people’s lives through obesity then they deserve to go broke.
      The biggest problem for a parent like me is actually finding healthy food for my children on outings and excursions. We were at a roller coaster park in the USA recently where you were not allowed to bring food into the park. The only food being sold inside the park was the usual highly refined rubbish that the USA is infamous for. Made for a hungry days entertainment.
      It is so hard to eat out these days when everything tastes soooooo sweet and salty.
      As another poster mentioned; this concept of refined sugar being largely responsible for obesity and heart disease is decades old information but maybe the general population will start to understand and act appropriately.

    • Amac says:

      05:48pm | 12/03/12

      So likening Australian Sugar Cane growers to opium growers isn’t extreme????

      Soon, and it will be soon, when you are spooning cheap, imported sugar full of bugs and rubbish into your tea you remember your anti Aussie sugar cane farmer stance.

    • Dale says:

      07:25am | 01/04/12

      “Soon, and it will be soon, when you are spooning cheap, imported sugar full of bugs and rubbish into your tea you remember your anti Aussie sugar cane farmer stance. “

      Enough with the racism already. We are not the only country or culture in the world that knows how to process food.

    • Helen says:

      02:32pm | 12/03/12

      I bought the Sweet Poison book after my husband caught up with a friend he hadn’t seen for years. He looked great and said he’d changed his life, weight and health after adopting the theory. What the book has done is simply educate us to where hidden sugars are in our everyday foods. We then made a choice. We aren’t deprived now we’ve cut as much sugar as we can from our diet. We’ve lost weight, have more energy and my skin has improved.

    • TimR says:

      03:36pm | 12/03/12

      its not the food, it’s the person eating it that is the cause of obesity.
      if you are overweight, do not blame the manufacturer, or the government, blame your self.

    • Katriina says:

      07:11pm | 12/03/12

      Thank you for this highly refreshing and well-informed article. I wish there were more people like you making their voices heard. Let’s hear it for wholesome food, freshly prepared with fresh ingredients, and plenty of water, and allowing ourselves small amounts of processed foods here and there. A single sweet biscuit is not evil and will not ruin your health; it’s eating a whole packet that does the damage.

    • Sam says:

      07:32pm | 12/03/12

      Id recommend anyone watch the documentary “Fat Head”. The guy made a response to “Super Size Me” and basically proved (with actual scientific evidence, gosh!) that what they have been telling us is bad for years is all a load of crap. Carbs are the problem, fat actually has no proven link with heart problems or cholesterol

    • Dido says:

      02:59pm | 13/03/12

      Agree Sam.  Sugar is a carb too.  For the foods that sell fat free, sugar has been replaced to add taste.

    • skepdad says:

      01:28pm | 13/03/12

      Dietitians and lawyers and “experts” can and will argue about the science until the GM cows come home. For the punter on the street, healthier eating comes down to two factors: motivation and simplicity.

      Most nutrition plans from Atkins to Herbalife to the Lettuce Soup Detox do work short term. In my personal view, it’s because all (one way or another) result in a lower intake of processed and concentrated carbs. But that’s not the point. The point is that they don’t work long term because they’re not simple. People tire of them, forget, or have the inevitable blowout and give up.

      The plan itself is far less important than the psychology and simplicity of it. The reason Sweet Poison (or the simpler version - “Don’t Stuff Your Face With Lollies”) works is because it’s simple and sustainable.

      Fifteen months ago, after having been a sugar addict for most of my forty years, I decided enough was enough. I simply decided to stop stuffing sugar in my pie hole six days a week. Nothing more complicated than that, and on Saturday I eat whatever the hell I want.  Fifteen months later it is my routine and my body is thanking me for it.  I was able to do it and stick to it because it’s simple.  No Himalayan Jujiberries, no thirty herbal supplement tablets a day, no lists of what’s in and what’s out. Just don’t put sugar in your face.

      Nevertheless, I can understand why even this simple approach is rife with difficulty. I never made a big show of it, but eventually people in the office discovered that I don’t eat sugar during the week. You’d be amazed at how often I get people waving birthday cake “temptingly” at me, or expressing surprise at the “rudeness” of my not participating in the lolly jar club.

      Surely we have noticed that in everything from politics to consumer behaviour to nutrition, facts don’t interest people. What they care about is cost/benefit and simplicity. Win the minds and the huge arses will follow.

    • Meh says:

      05:46pm | 13/03/12

      “In fact, by eliminating anything from your diet, whether it is sugar, alcohol, fat or processed carbohydrates, you will lose weight.”

      Wrong. I cut alcohol from my diet COMPLETELY. Didn’t lose any weight.
      I then cut sugar out of my diet, started losing weight within a few days, and kept it off. Best thing I ever did. Didn’t increase my exercise either - still lost weight.

      Here is a list of other things that happened after I cut out sugar:
      More Energy.
      Less Appetite (can’t finish same size meals I used to have)
      Less Fatigue (don’t get tired in the afternoon anymore, I don’t fall asleep on the train home)
      No more headaches/nausea
      No more “brain fog”
      Better attention span.
      Shopping for food is faster at the supermarket - (you can bypass the centre aisles)
      Got my sense of taste back.
      Shopping bill is cheaper.
      Dont feel like sweet stuff anymore - no cravings.
      Actually feel like exercising now - and doing stuff I;d been putting off.

      It isn’t easy getting off it - I did have some withdrawal, it is addictive as David Gillespie claims. Try it for yourself - see what happens - make your own decision!

    • Grumpy Little Gumnut says:

      03:37pm | 14/03/12

      To me this whole subject is a no-brainer.  What is the ONE substance that a cancer cell needs to replicate itself over and over and over (and eventually kill you)?  SUGAR.  End of discussion.


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free News.com.au newsletter