Friday, November 11, 2016

Sugar is the new tobacco, so let's treat it that way.

Sugar Is the New Tobacco, so Let's Treat It That Way

Aseem Malhotra, MBChB, MRCP - October 31, 2016

I was recently asked to speak at the UK parliamentary "Sugar Summit." This event was convened by Rend Platings, a mother so disturbed by England's chief medical officer's revelation that, as a result of obesity, today's generation of parents may be the first to outlive their children, that she launched a campaign, Sugarwise, to help consumers identify foods with added sugar.[1]
Keith Vaz, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes, chaired the event, whose audience was made up of a number of representatives from such high-profile UK retailers as Tesco, Caffè Nero, and the Jamie Oliver Group, as well as such influential stakeholders as the UK Department of Health, Public Health England, the British Soft Drinks Association, and the Food and Drink Federation.[2]
I began by welcoming the UK government announcement of an introduction of a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2017. I similarly welcome the recent statement calls by the World Health Organization (WHO) to tax sugary drinks by at least 20% in order to curb the global epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes. We mustn't forget that the substantial decline in tobacco consumption in the past three decades, which was the single most important factor driving a decrease in cardiovascular mortality during that period, only happened after legislative measures that targeted the affordability, availability, and acceptability of smoking.[3]

Health Effects

Oxford researchers have estimated that a 15% reduction in sugar consumption through such a tax would prevent 180,000 people in the UK from becoming obese within a year and a larger number from becoming overweight.[4] But the scientific evidence reveals that the positive health benefits for the whole population of such a tax goes beyond a mere reduction in calories:
  • An econometric analysis of 175 countries (considered the highest quality of study with the exception of randomized controlled trials) revealed that for every additional 150 sugar calories available for consumption, there was an 11-fold increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the population. This is compared with 150 calories from another source such as fat or protein and independent of body mass index (BMI) and physical activity levels.[5]
  • The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the US population between 1988 and 2012 increased by 25% in both obese and normal-weight populations,[6] which goes to show that type 2 diabetes is not a condition related purely to obesity.
  • A high-quality prospective cohort study revealed a trebling in cardiovascular mortality among US adults who consumed more than 25% of calories from added sugar versus those who consumed less than 10%, with consistent findings across physical activity levels and BMI.[7]
  • The positive health effects of reducing sugar intake appear to be quite rapid. In a study of 43 Latino and African American children with metabolic syndrome, keeping total calories and calories from carbohydrate identical, a reduction from a mean of 28% of calories from added sugar to 10% significantly reduced triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and fasting insulin within just 10 days.[8]

 How Much Sugar Is Safe?

So, how much sugar do we need? For the purpose of health, the optimum consumption is zero. Added sugar has no biological requirement and is, therefore, not by any definition a "nutrient." It is the fructose component (sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose) that fulfils four criteria that justify its regulation: toxicity, unavoidability, the potential for abuse, and its negative impact on society.[9]
How much sugar is safe? The consumption of just small amounts of free sugar, which includes all added sugar and sugar present in fruit juice, syrups and honey, on a daily basis, has a deleterious impact on the most common noncommunicable disease globally: tooth decay. Treatment of dental disease is responsible for 5%-10% of health expenditures in industrialized countries, and in the UK, tooth decay is the number-one cause of chronic pain and hospital admission in young children.[10,11]
As pointed out by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, there is a powerful argument that the WHO should recommend a maximum limit of sugar consumption to make up no more than 3% of daily calories (about three teaspoons).[12] The average UK and US citizen, however, consumes at least four to seven times that amount.[13,14] This is perhaps not surprising when one acknowledges that it has been almost impossible for the consumer to avoid sugar, as it is so prevalent in the food environment and much of it is hidden. In the United States, almost half of all sugar consumption comes from foods one wouldn't normally associate as having added sugar, such as ketchup, salad dressings, and bread. A third of sugar consumption comes from sugary drinks, and a sixth from foods that people normally perceive as junk, such as chocolates, cookies, and ice cream.[14]
In the United States, there isn't any reference dietary intake for sugar on food labels. In Europe, the labelling exists but doesn't differentiate between children and adults. One can of regular cola contains nine teaspoons of added sugar, which is triple the 2009 upper limit intake suggested by the US Department of Agriculture for an 8-year-old child. The UK Guideline Daily Amount label describes these nine teaspoons of sugar as 39% of the guideline daily amount. On the basis of this false reassurance, it would be understandable for parents to believe that it is safe for their child to drink two and a half cans per day.[15]
The food industry often argues that the public should have a "personal responsibility" when choosing what foods to eat, which deflects blame from their own culpability in the obesity epidemic to the consumer. The truth is that the public lacks knowledge because of confusing food labels, and the public lacks choice because sugar is added to approximately 80% of processed foods.

Big Tobacco, Big Sugar

The fact that it took 50 years before the first links between smoking and lung cancer were published in the British Medical Journal and before effective regulation was introduced is testament to how Big Tobacco was able to defend its practices. Key to the strategy was denial, planting doubt, confusing the public, buying the loyalty of scientists, and giving ammunition to political allies.[16]
The similarities between Big Tobacco and the sugar industry are disturbing. As a recent publication in JAMA Internal Medicine showed, the sugar industry paid three influential Harvard scientists to downplay sugar's role in heart disease and to shift the blame to fat.[17] Last year, the New York Times exposed that the Coca-Cola Company paid millions of dollars to fund research that downplayed the role of sugary drinks in obesity and push lack of exercise as the main factor.[18] And, according to one former UK shadow health minister, the incorrect advocacy of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate, and high-sugar diet by "morally corrupt scientists and politicians who allowed themselves to be manipulated by food suppliers" is to blame for global obesity.[19]
The recent calls by the WHO to tax sugary drinks are very welcome news for health campaigners. The public health messaging, however, has to be more clear. There is nothing wrong with the occasional treat, but sugar has no place as part of a "healthy balanced diet." Similar to smoking, any further regulatory measures to reduce sugar consumption, such as banning of sugary drink advertising and dissociating sugary drinks with sporting events, will have a further impact on improving population health within a short time. The science is more than sufficient; the case against sugar is overwhelming. Sugar is the new tobacco, so let's start treating it that way.


  1. Sugarwise Accessed October 26, 2016.
  2. Sugarwise. Mother convenes summit in parliament on sugar. Press release. October 12, 2016. October 26, 2016.
  3. Royal College of Physicians. Fifty years since Smoking and health: Progress, lessons and priorities for a smoke-free UK. Report of conference proceedings. London: RCP; 2012. Accessed October 26, 2016.
  4. Briggs ADM, Mytton OT, Kehlbacher A, et al. Overall and income specific effect on prevalence of overweight and obesity of 20% sugar sweetened drink tax in UK: econometric and comparative risk assessment modelling study. BMJ. 2013;347:f6189.
  5. Basu S, Yoffe P, Hills N, et al. The relationship of sugar to population-level diabetes prevalence: an econometric analysis of repeated cross-sectional data. PLoS One. 2013;8:e57873.
  6. Menke A, Casagrande S, Geiss L, Cowie CC. Prevalence of and trends in diabetes among adults in the United States, 1988–2012. JAMA. 2015;314:1052-1062. Abstract
  7. Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flanders WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174:516-524. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563.
  8. Lustig RH, Mulligan K, Noworolski S, et al. Isocaloric fructose restriction and metabolic improvement in children with obesity and metabolic syndrome. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016;24:453-460. Epub Oct 27.
  9. Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012;487:27-29. Abstract
  10. Prynne M. Tooth decay is the biggest cause of primary school children being hosptialised. The Telegraph. July 13, 2014. Accessed October 27, 2016.
  11. Interview with Professor Aubrey Sheiham. The Sugar Podcast. August 11, 2014. October 27, 2016.
  12. Sheiham A,James PT. A reappraisal of the quantitative relationship between sugar intake and dental caries: the need for new criteria for developing goals for sugar intake. BMC Public Health. 2014,14:863.
  13. Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency. National Diet and Nutrition Survey Results from Years 5 and 6 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2012/2013 – 2013/2014). Accessed October 27, 2016.
  14. Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120:1011-1020. Abstract
  15. Aseem M. The dietary advice on added sugar needs emergency surgery. BMJ. 2013;346:f3199.
  16. Brownell KD, Warner KE. The perils of ignoring history: big tobacco played dirty and millions died. How similar is big food? Milbank Q. 2009;87:259-294. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0009.2009.
  17. Kearns CE, Schmidt LA, Glantz SA. Sugar industry and coronary heart disease research. a historical analysis of internal industry documents. JAMA Intern Med. Epub September 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5394.
  18. O'Connor A. How the sugar industry shifted blame to fat. The New York Times. September 12, 2016. Accessed October 27, 2016.
  19. McColl I. There is one cure for obesity and one only: eat less. It's that or the fatness epidemic will kill more than Spanish flu. The Telegraph. October 11, 2016. Accessed October 27, 2016.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We attract our reality through our feelings...

I was once again reminded by this fact recently, during a radio interview....

Often people or clients tell me that they didn't attract the accident or the fall or various other incidents in their life and I have to respond with, umm, yes, yes you did.

And here is why I believe this to be true. Not only because of movies like The Secret and Down the Rabbit Hole and the Law of attraction, but because I have seen it manifest in my life more often than not. (I do believe in the law of attraction)

I give you one example of this: I was getting divorced and decided to go out for the evening with a few friends. At the beginning of the evening we decided that I will be the sober cab. Many of you know that it means if you are going to drink, have a few at the beginning of the evening and then just drink water. Well, I decided to do that but did not stop drinking early enough and had water towards the end of the evening. By the time we were ready to leave,  I felt fine to drive and did so. After speeding slightly, I was pulled over and failed a sobriety test, even though I was on the limit. I was hauled off in the back of a police vehicle and had to leave my drunk friend stranded on the side of the road.
This was soooooo embarrassing and I asked myself why did I attract this into my life?
I had a few hours to ponder this sitting in the police department. I started by looking at how the situation made me feel. I was deeply ashamed and looked back at how often and how intensely I have been feeling shame.
It is interesting when you do this, because a million different moments sprang into my consciousness.
I was sexually abused as a child and this made me feel ashamed for most of my childhood years, then I was raped as a teenager, add more shame. In my 20's I was in an abusive relationship, add even more shame. Now add the divorce (failed marriage) and all my choices that created that. More shame, add to that, disappointing my friend by not being a reliable sober cab...shame upon shame...( You see how that works?)

Now at the age of 40, the Universe was giving me the opportunity to look at my predominant underlying feelings and emotions about myself so that I could finally let it go, change my vibration, shift the energy, attract something new and more beneficial. The shame of a DUI at this age was a gift and a huge wake up call. Enough is enough my world was saying to me.

It was a wonderful AHA moment for me and made me feel a lot better about the DUI and my life. I chose right there and then that shame had played too much of a role in shaping the events of my life and I was ready to let it go. Ready to send the blame back to those who deserved it and take responsibility for my own feelings.

So, when an event happens and you find yourself having a pity party, ask yourself how this event makes you feel? Are you angry, full of fear, frustrated, feeling hopeless? And how often have you been feeling like this?  Can you see how the Universe just brings to you another situation in which to  feel the same way?

There are many ways to shift our emotions and heal old traumas and sometimes, we need the help of practitioners to aid us in delving deeper and clearing old patterns of belief that can create and perpetuate some of our emotions. I never hesitate to call on my own little arsenal of helpers when I myself cannot quite clear things.

Please pay attention to how you feel and the emotions that dominate your life for they are attracting the event and situation you find yourself in. They may even be attracting your current relationships. So, if you are unhappy check in with yourself and if life is awesome, keep feeling those wonderful feelings.

Be happy, stay healthy and feel the love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


You hear about the fact that one can only achieve peace by detachment.
How does one achieve this? I ponder this question often and am not sure how to do it. I am sure like any new skill one must practice, practice, practice.

I guess it means letting things fall where they may? I know that I certainly practice this when working on energy balancing with clients. I am detached from the outcome. What they do with the energy and information is entirely up to them. This is however not as easy and natural when walking through my everyday life.

How do you achieve detachment when you feel like you have a vested interest in the outcome? When I desire something and then put it out there to the Universe....I am now detached from that and am told to just trust in the outcome and know that it is already there for me in divine timing. Fair enough, but then you hear or read that one must take action towards that which we desire....this does not sound like detachment to me? WHAT TO DO?

Is there a fine line between inspired action, action and detachment. Is it once again attached to being present, knowing when to act and when not to? I wish there was a 'detachment for dummies' book, or a 'how to be present for dummies.'

It is believed and proven that breathing is a way to stay present or at least bring you back to the present moment. Right now I feel like I'm going to be doing a LOT of breathing to stay present. My mind tends to go a mile a minute, like everyone else's does, and this tend to pull me out of the moment.

Maybe the best is to just practice staying in the moment and then detachment takes care of itself?

As you can see I certainly do not have the answers and it seems like I just have more questions as I go along. My life is a work in progress and I am just trying to be the best me I can be and practice mindfulness.

This is just a jumbled mess and probably just describes where I am at right now. I did hear a great message from Deepak Chopra about meditating and asking the question, "Who am I", followed by "Who's asking the question"....maybe that and breathing is a good place to start or to continue on.
I ask question during my meditations but don't always get answers right away...frustrating until I realize that it is a good place to once again practice detachment, because when I do, the answers seem to appear out of the ethers.

As I mentioned above....practice, practice and seeing every opportunity to do so, may just make me a Master someday...

As for today, I will just continue to ask questions and ponder upon my life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Avoiding the sun is as Dangerous as smoking.....

Avoiding Sun as Dangerous as Smoking

J Intern Med. Published online March 16, 2016.

Nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays, according to researchers who studied nearly 30,000 Swedish women over 20 years.

This indicates that avoiding the sun "is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking," write the authors of the article, published March 21 in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Compared with those with the highest sun exposure, life expectancy for those who avoided sun dropped by 0.6 to 2.1 years.

Pelle Lindqvist, MD, of Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Sweden, and colleagues found that women who seek out the sun were generally at lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and noncancer/non-CVD diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary diseases, than those who avoided sun exposure.

And one of the strengths of the study was that results were dose-specific — sunshine benefits went up with amount of exposure.

The researchers acknowledge that longer life expectancy for sunbathers seems paradoxical to the common thinking that sun exposure increases risk for skin cancer.

"We did find an increased risk cancer. However, the skin cancers that occurred in those exposing themselves to the sun had better prognosis," Dr Lindqvist said.

Some Daily Exposure Important for Health

Given these findings, he told Medscape Medical News, women should not overexpose themselves to sun, but underexposure may be even more dangerous than people think.

"We know in our population, there are three big lifestyle factors [that endanger health]: smoking, being overweight, and inactivity," he said. "Now we know there is a fourth — avoiding sun exposure."

Sweden's restrictive guidance against sun exposure over the past 4 decades may be particularly ill-advised, the study finds, in a country where the maximum UV index is low (< 3) for up to 9 months out of the year.

Use of sunscreen is also widely misunderstood in the country and elsewhere, Dr Lindqvist said.

"If you're using it to be out longer in the sun, you're using it in the wrong manner," he said. However, "If you are stuck on a boat and have to be out, it's probably better to have sunscreen than not to have it."

Women with more pigmentation would be particularly well-served to stop avoiding sunshine, he said, adding that many people in India, for instance, follow guidelines like those in Sweden to avoid sun year round.

And because melanomas are rare among women with darker skin, benefit goes up in those populations when weighing sun exposure's risk against benefits, Dr Lindqvist said.

Age and Smoking Habits

The researchers studied sun exposure as a risk factor for all-cause mortality for 29,518 women with no history of malignancy in a prospective 20-year follow-up of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort.

The women were recruited from 1990 to 1992 when they were 25 to 64 years old. Detailed information was available at baseline on sun-exposure habits and potential confounders such as marital status, education level, smoking, alcohol consumption, and number of births.

When smoking was factored in, even smokers at approximately 60 years of age with the most active sun-exposure habits had a 2-year longer life expectancy during the study period compared with smokers who avoided sun exposure, the researchers note.

The authors do, however, acknowledge some major limitations. Among them, it was impossible to differentiate between active sun-exposure habits and a healthy lifestyle, and they did not have access to exercise data.

Role of Vitamin D Still in Question

The results add to the longstanding debate on the role of vitamin D in health and the amount of it people need, but this study doesn't resolve the question.

"Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to ultraviolet radiation, or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined. Therefore, additional research is warranted," the authors write.

"From Irish studies we know that vitamin D deficiency makes melanomas more malignant," Dr Lindqvist said.

"This is in agreement with our results; melanomas of [those not exposed] to the sun had a worse prognosis."

This study was supported by the Clintec at the Karolinska Institute; ALF (Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Region Skane); the Swedish Cancer Society; and the Swedish Medical Research Council. Funding was also received from Lund University Hospital; the Gustav V Jubilee Fund; the Gunnar Nilsson Foundation; the Kamprad Foundation; and the European Research Council. The authors declared no relevant financial relationships.