Movement is Medicine: The case against sugar

Diet books are a dime a dozen these days, and those associated with fitness movements or promising the latest weight lost cure are even cheaper than that. The biggest problem with this isn’t all the false promises that get made, but that we can become so jaded that when a truly impactful book gets written, it gets lost in the mix. Gary Taubes has written one of these books, it’s called “The Case Against Sugar,” and it is well worth the read. This book is well researched, fascinating and very controversial – but not because of the data drawn upon to make it’s conclusions, but because it flies in the face of so much of what we’ve heard and learned from even the most trusted of sources about healthy diets and lifestyles.

There is a basic question at the very core of this book and that is; is a calorie just a calorie? Why this is such an important question is because it gets at the heart of one of the biggest problems facing our medical system – which is finding an actionable course of treatment to address the current worldwide obesity epidemic. Obesity, and obesity related preventable diseases constitute an epidemic that we spend nearly a BILLION dollars a DAY dealing with. Needless to say, this is a huge problem on many levels, and finding the answer of why so many of us are so obese and unhealthy is critical.

Standing on one side of the debate are those in the medical community who believe that obesity is simply a problem with an individual taking in more calories than they burn. This conventional wisdom explains that as we have become more sedentary, we have simply – as a population – not burnt off enough calories to maintain normal body weights. If only we would exercise more, then, it wouldn’t really matter what we ate because a calorie is just a calorie – whether that’s a calorie from grass fed steak or a Coca Cola. If we exercised enough, and specifically with respect to obesity, it shouldn’t matter where our calories are coming from.

The other side of that debate, and the one best articulated in Mr. Taubes’ book, is that different sources of calories cause very different results, and the prevalence of obesity is much more associated with physiologic and hormonal changes associated with the intake of specific types of calories, namely those derived from sugar, as the primary cause of the obesity epidemic. This hypothesis, and the evidence used to confirm it, is both overwhelming and exhaustive. Yet, the conclusions are hard to internalize as they stand in contradiction to the very dietary recommendations made to us – as a society – from trusted sources such as the American Heart Association and even the Surgeon General.

Regardless of which side of this debate seems more reasonable to you, I would urge that you not make up your mind, without considering the evidence presented in this book. The potential implications are significant to say the least, and may help you evolve not just your thinking on this issue, but your dietary choices in a way you never considered – and to your great benefit.

If you have any questions about this article, or want to find out more about scheduling a nutritional consultation, contact Dr. Chris Telesmanic, PT, DPT, OCS at  Learn more about movement, fitness and health in this space each week or by visiting, or calling 478-5833.


This article first appeared in the Hanford Sentinel, Movement is Medicine column, written by Alliance Health.

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