Pure, White, and Deadly

January 30, 2017

So, I wanted to share a book with you. I first became aware of it while I was studying nutritional physiology and biochemistry at uni and I stumbled upon an online lecture from obesity expert Robert Lustig MD which you can watch here:

 

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

 

Safe to say, it blew my mind. If you don't mind a little biochemistry I would really recommend watching it.

The main focus of the lecture was the danger of fructose (in particular high fructose corn syrup) in terms of influencing metabolic disease.  This was at a time when we were still strongly advising low fat diets, low fat dairy etc (much of which was replaced with sugar).  Dr Lustig had me hooked; was there truth in it? The biochemistry certainly suggested there was.

 

Throughout his lecture he referred to a book (that was at the time out of print) called 'Pure, White, and Deadly' by Dr John Yudkin. This book was first published way back in 1972.  Dr Yudkin had been researching the potential causes of heart disease on the basis of observational studies and came to the conclusion that it was highly likely the sugar had something to do with it. At around the same time, other scientists including the epidemiologist Ancel Keys was putting forward the argument that saturated fat was to blame. Yudkin's prophecy was lost in the wilderness of science and research.  His evidence was relatively weak and he didn't have the knowledge that we have now to support his argument.  It's also unsurprising that his ideas didn't fuel further study considering that he was suggesting the billion pound industry of high fructose corn syrup in the USA might have been a significant factor in causing disease....

 

I read the book, in fact I read it twice as it shocked me how much his foresight had come to light. Yes the book does have its flaws in terms of evidence based research, Yudkin could demonstrate a correlation, but not causation, but he surmised a number of theories that we now have evidence for...he was completely ahead of his time.

 

So, 40 or so years later the book has been republished, at a time when the world of nutritional science is beginning to provide the controversial evidence that supports the foundations of his theores.

I would really advise anyone that's interested in sugar and health to read it and appreciate the forward thinking of Dr Yudkin, it's a shame we didn't heed his warning at the time!

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