Sugar in the Spotlight

Published 1.30.2017
Mondays are the day that interesting recent links found while surfing the web are presented for your enjoyment.

  • Men’s Health interviews Gary Taubes. As one might expect, it covers much of the same ground. The article does give a good run down of the status of NuSi, Taubes's vanity research organization. His sugar daddy Arnold (being a hedge fund guy) believed the data Kevin Hall presented, and pulled his funds (though Taubes says it’s after Attia left— although THAT happened after the Hall study too) The article does make clear that Taubes is not a journalist. He’s a lobbyist.

  • Stephan Guyenet reviews Taubes’s new book. He’s not a fan. Taubes misrepresents both the history he describes in the book and the science he claims supports his opinions. It’s not a book of science, it’s a book of advocacy, and as that it’s one sided and incomplete. It is however the distortion of facts that offends Guyenet’s sensibilities most Taubes is lying about the history and that science, and he keeps getting huge press megaphones (I’m looking at you New York Times) to spew his nonsense without fear of contradiction.

  • Again(!) Taubes gets exposure in the New York Times. It’s presented as an interview, in which Taubes goes over the same tired ground. Except that now his message includes a charge to the Sugar “industry” to prove a negative. In other words, prove that sugar is harmless. It didn’t work that way in the fight against tobacco. There evidence of harm existed. That’s not the case with sugar— as he admits at the end of his book, per the reviews. At least he’s not in favor of the government banning or taxing sugar. Oh but wait, he is in favor of it. Because the government would have to set up any “cap and trade” system. Most sugar is consumed as processed foods. The obvious answer (as always) is don’t eat processed foods— but that would make for a very short book.

  • Fat mothers tend to have fat kids. A new study suggests it depends on the genes the mother passes on, not the environment the kid grows up in. The link isn’t to the study, but this paragraph:

    The investigators analyzed data on 3,720 mother-child pairs from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). They found the same positive association between maternal BMI during pregnancy and offspring BMI, and the same null result once the genetic risk score was factored in, at various points in time from ages 7 to 18 for the children.

    means I would have to read the actual paper before judging the merits of the result. For the record, my bias leans towards environment absolutely mattering. Humans don’t become obese in the absence of excess intake. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t different body types or shapes, but no human surpasses a BMI of 40 without eating too much. (That’s not a typo, I deliberately chose an extreme BMI to avoid the “athletic” but technically obese issue.)

  • Telecommuting extends the work week, but not paychecks. Extra pay is not the reason to telecommute (Which is not the same as working from home.) The reason to telecommute is flexibility. The ability to set your own schedule (within some framework) is why people do it. It is not without risks. There is a value to “Face time” that is diminished if you’re not in the office. This is saying that people telecommute to do more work. Perhaps it seems that way. There is an adjustment period to working away from an office— especially if you are trying to juggle childcare.

    There are many reasons, Noonan says. In an era of smartphones, employees are more likely to take work home, Noonan says, such as checking and responding to emails. People working at home may feel more pressure to demonstrate their productivity than those who are visible in the office, in supervisors’ plain sight. Working mothers may experience added stress as they juggle home life with work.

  • Autism starts in the gut? Not if there’s a genetic anomaly. That is the problem with the “spectrum” concept, in my view. My son is often categorized as “on the spectrum,” but he functions at a level much higher than others also identified that way. Terms that are so fungible are meaningless. He has learning challenges that he needed to time to work around. The current education system was in no way set up to allow him to do so.

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