Everyone is, er, buzzing about Gary Taubes’ latest article for the New York Times magazine, “Is Sugar Toxic?” Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, has made a name for himself by challenging a lot of the orthodoxy when it comes to diet and nutrition.
His latest piece is no different. Taubes presents a lot of compelling evidence that all refined sugars — not just high fructose corn syrup — are much worse for us than previously thought. Aside from obesity and diabetes, there’s a growing body of evidence that sugar intake is correlated with cancer. Yikes.
It’s pretty clear that the rapid increase in sugar consumption over the last century or so has been bad for our kids. The jury is still out on some of this new evidence, but in the end the problems of sugar are obvious enough. I remember when my oldest daughter was two-years-old, we had an Easter party at our home. As she flitted about the room in her pretty dress, we were busy helping many of our guests and didn’t notice how liberally she had helped herself to some of the Easter candy.
Up until that point we’d steered our daughter largely clear of sugary foods. Suffice to say, her binge ended in spate of hyperactivity followed by a temper tantrum that would have cleared the mosh pit at an Anthrax show. As first time parents, we learned a thing or two about sugar’s drug like effects on children and have been careful not to make that mistake again.
Still, even Taubes doesn’t know how concerned we should be about the new evidence. “Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means,” he says. It’s hard to even imagine childhood without sugar. We’ve constructed entire mythologies for children that revolve around the love of candy — Willy Wonka, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang et al.
However, it shouldn’t take a bevy a new research to tell us we consume too much sugar, and this is doubly true for our kids. Maybe a childhood without sugar would be cruel and unnecessary, but scaling back the amount of sugar our kids currently consume seems like basic common sense.