Sanchez: Culprit: sugar

THOSE who insist on the Negrense sugarlandia should have another thing coming. Yet Negrense organic practitioners and advocate know about this for years. Sugar is bad for our health.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama), a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association, recently featured an article suggesting that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.

The 1960s research article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, threw a red herring that concluded the minimal link between sugar and heart health, and blamed saturated fat for the increase of heart attacks. The so-called studies concluded that sugar “does not have a unique role in heart disease.”

Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and an author of the Jama Internal Medicine paper, disagreed. “They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,” he said.

Another author, Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, wrote an editorial accompanying the new paper in which she said the documents provided “compelling evidence” that the sugar industry had initiated research “expressly to exonerate sugar as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.”

Today, the saturated fat warnings remain a cornerstone of the government’s dietary guidelines, though in recent years the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and other health authorities have also begun to warn that too much added sugar may increase cardiovascular disease risk.

Last year, an article in The New York Times revealed that Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, had provided millions of dollars in funding to researchers who sought to play down the link between sugary drinks and obesity.

After the review was published, the debate about sugar and heart disease died down, while low-fat diets gained the endorsement of many health authorities, Dr. Glantz said, “By today’s standards, they behaved very badly.”

Negros Occidental, fortunately, has visionary leaders who lobbied for the passage of Republic Act No. 10659, otherwise known as the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015. The end products of the industry will no longer be just sugar. History will judge sugar producers who created health problems.

The aim of the law is to “promote the competitiveness of the sugarcane industry and maximize the utilization of sugarcane resources, and improve the incomes of farmers and farm workers, through improved productivity, product diversification, job generation, and increased efficiency of sugar mills.”

The wave of the future in Negros Occidental is less sugar, more diversified sugarcane-based products.

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(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

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