Tag Archives: politics

Quit Sugar | The Paleo Diet

Sugar – is there a more popular word for dieticians and nutritionists? Interestingly, economists have also been talking about the pure white stuff – but in a different context than the standard ‘insulin and cravings’ discussions. A new piece in The Atlantic discussed just how much money is spent on selling Americans sugar, every single day of our lives.1

Though nothing truly shocks me anymore, in the sleazy world of processed food marketing, I was a bit taken aback to realize that Kellogg’s spent $32 million on advertising their (truly awful) Pop Tarts last year. With that money, we could be helping to fix the obesity pandemic we are all collectively in, instead.2 3 4 5 70% of Americans are now overweight, and 30% of us are obese – couldn’t we allocate these funds better? I think so.6

But, instead, we get a new flavor of the Franken-Food that absolutely no one (let alone developing children) should eat for breakfast. Or any other time of day, for that matter. But the depressing statistics don’t end there. Last year, Coca-Cola spent over $250 million advertising their flagship sugar water. And for a quick science detour, remember that sugar has been shown to demonstrate a set of behaviors and parallel brain changes that are characteristic of addictive drugs.7 8 9 10

Brain Glucose Metabolusm

(a) Averaged images for DA D2 receptors (measured with [11C]raclopride) in a group of (i) controls (n=10) and (ii) morbidly obese subjects (n=10). (b) Results from SPM identifying the areas in the brain where D2 receptors availability was associated with brain glucose metabolism; these included the OFC, the CG and the DLPFC (region not shown in sagittal plane). (c) Regression slopes between D2 receptor availability (measured in striatum) and brain glucose metabolism in (i) CG and (ii) OFC in obese subjects. 10

Back to the money spent on sugar. Pepsi seems almost saint-like by comparison here, as they only spent $150 million advertising Gatorade last year. Keep in mind that all of the products listed so far (we’re at a total of $432 million at this point) are just brightly colored versions of sugar. This would almost be comical, if it weren’t destroying our collective health.11 12 13 14

I hope you’ve buckled up, because this is where things turn truly depressing. Did you know that our own government (who – obviously – should be looking out for our collective health) spent less than 0.5% of all agricultural subsidies on production of fruits and vegetables? You read that right – that’s less than 1%. Should less than 1% of any food-related funding be going to fruits and vegetables? Shouldn’t the majority of funding be going to fruits and vegetables? I feel like we are all in a bad Twilight Zone episode here.

And, while I wholeheartedly believe in freedom, liberty, and a free market economy, when you have 70% of the population overweight, and one in three people obese, you need to make some changes, and you need to have some oversight. It doesn’t take an advanced college degree, or even a high school diploma to see the problem here. As the old saying goes, numbers don’t lie.

I will leave you with one more staggering fact, which shows how truly disconnected we have become, from our Paleo ancestors. Fruits and vegetables are the only foods, which all nutrition experts can agree upon; we should be eating, ad libitum. But do you know what classification they have, by our own U.S. Department Of Agriculture? Their classification is only a brief two words: ‘specialty crops’.

Hopefully in your own personal, ongoing scientific experiment (that is your life), fruits and vegetables are not ‘specialty crops’. They should be part of your main course. I hope I’ve given you some real things to think about here. And remember – our children and future grandchildren are the ones who will suffer the most from this ludicrous sugar economy we are allowing to persist. Not us.

While it is easy to be complacent, apathetic, and not do anything, you have a voice. And what is a democracy, if not simply a collection of individual voices? Make your voice be heard, and tell the world where you stand on the true price of sugar.


1 Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/the-money-spent-selling-sugar-to-americans-is-staggering/407350/. Accessed September 29, 2015.

2 Roth J, Qiang X, Marbán SL, Redelt H, Lowell BC. The obesity pandemic: where have we been and where are we going?. Obes Res. 2004;12 Suppl 2:88S-101S.

3 Swinburn BA, Sacks G, Hall KD, et al. The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments. Lancet. 2011;378(9793):804-14.

4 Catenacci VA, Hill JO, Wyatt HR. The obesity epidemic. Clin Chest Med. 2009;30(3):415-44, vii.

5 Popkin BM, Adair LS, Ng SW. Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(1):3-21.

6 Available at: http://www.toledoblade.com/Food/2015/06/23/70-of-Americans-overweight-or-obese-study-finds.html. Accessed September 29, 2015.

7 Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.

8 Lustig RH. Fructose: it’s “alcohol without the buzz”. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(2):226-35.

9 Lustig RH. Fructose: metabolic, hedonic, and societal parallels with ethanol. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(9):1307-21.

10 Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Fowler JS, Telang F. Overlapping neuronal circuits in addiction and obesity: evidence of systems pathology. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B, Biol Sci. 2008;363(1507):3191-200.

11 Puhl R, Brownell KD. Bias, discrimination, and obesity. Obes Res. 2001;9(12):788-805.

12 Brownell KD, Kersh R, Ludwig DS, et al. Personal responsibility and obesity: a constructive approach to a controversial issue. Health Aff (Millwood). 2010;29(3):379-87.

13 Vartanian LR, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health. 2007;97(4):667-75.

14 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(1):259-94.

USNWR Cherry Picks Diets | The Paleo Diet

Just as surely as the swallows make their annual return to Mission San Juan Capistrano, U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) embarrasses not only itself, but the scientific and nutritional communities via its annual (January) subjective ratings of various popular, not so popular, and virtually unknown diets. As I and others have previously pointed out in 2014’s Rebuttal and 2013’s Rebuttal, these listings have no basis in objective science, but simply represent tallied subjective ratings by a group of experts, cherry picked by an unknown process, presumably by non-scientists at USNWR. I recognize a number of colleagues and good scientist in the expert list and am dismayed that they would participate in such a baseless and non-scientific process. Surely they did not participate in analyzing the data, because it is statistically inappropriate.

Sound nutritional science should not be about people’s opinions, but rather should employ the scientific method in which hypotheses are tested and conclusions drawn using replicable data that is statistically analyzed. Clearly, these procedures were not even remotely followed for this report, consequently the data USNWR has compiled is virtually meaningless. A better use of resources would be for USNWR to actually experimentally test one or more diets against any other diet for the seven end points of concern in this report. Or, at the very least, the panel of experts should be required to read, tabulate and analyze peer review publications of the diets rated in this report. This objective undertaking would be virtually impossible as more than half of the diets have never been written up in peer review scientific journals, much less experimentally tested against one another.

Evidently, a non-scientist at USNWR, not versed in statistics, compiled these results. Let me explain. The panel of 22 experts were asked to give each diet a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 ranking for each of the seven categories of interest (short term weight loss, long term weight loss, easy to follow, nutrition, safety, diabetes, heart health). When data is correctly analyzed, one of the first decisions is to determine the level (nominal, ordinal, interval or ratio) of the data. The expert panel’s 1 to 5 rankings represents ordinal data and not higher level interval or ratio data.  Accordingly, it is statistically incorrect to calculate a mean score from ordinal data for each of the seven categories as USNWR has done. Rather a frequency distribution displaying the totals, for each of the 5 rankings, is required for all seven categories to more accurately display this data. But why even bother, as this subjective information, even if analyzed correctly, has zero objective merit when making any logical decisions about diet.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Food Politics | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

About 20 years ago I also read “Are you Confused?” as part of my interest in nutrition health and sports. Today I have a MSc in Nutritional Science and work as a sports dietitian in River Plata soccer club in Argentina. I ended up with your book after delving into my hobby: physical anthropology.

I have recently read your book and tried your diet for four weeks, feeling great and losing three kgs without physical activity, needless to say I’m hooked and will continue. I was very fearful and skeptical at first, imagine that after several years of brainwashing by the ADA and USDA curricula, pyramids and “research,” I thought that cutting out three food groups amounted to outright quackery and faddism. Then I read Food Politics by Marion Nestle. Coupled with the evidence exposed in your book I went for it.

Sorry to derail you from a likely busy schedule, my sincere thanks and congratulations, keep up the good work.


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