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Positioning himself to become our national food czar, Robert Lustig reiterates for the journal Nature his argument condemning the simple carbohydrate as a toxin or poison.

The abuse of language is necessary to explain a complicated epidemic with a sound bite.  By common sense definition, a poison has a narrow therapeutic index and harms everyone equally.  Lustig’s idea of a poison reflects circular reasoning: a substance which is harmful when ingested in excess.  By that definition, no substance can escape the label.

So Lustig must restrict the proposition with dubious qualifiers: sugar is toxic because it is addictive–a loose concept of addiction; fructose is not metabolized if you don’t exercise–so why isn’t sloth the culprit?; only “added” sugars are harmful–but mothers have been adding sugar to pies for centuries.

I was disappointed that Gary Taubes, who did such a great job debunking the claims against dietary fats in the first few chapters of his well-researched book, fell subsequently in the same trap of fervently believing in a simplistic explanation for a most complicated problem.

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