I just started reading it. I'll report back.
The New York Times' Well blog is accruing comments:
Talk To Gary Taubes About Sugar
Taubes is a low-carb advocate. In his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, he said:
"Carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be."(I don't necessarily agree with him, I'm just offering a backdrop.)
"Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes."
"Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior."
"Consuming excess calories does not cause [Taubes' emphasis] us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger."
Update, April 14 - Some thoughts:
Nothing in this article convinced me that sugar (or a component of it - fructose) is inherently toxic. However, since it is the dose that makes the poison, I think sugar is likely toxic at high doses. This is true about many nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin D, folic acid (as seen here), water. They are all toxic at high doses.
It is easier to ingest toxic amounts of these substances when they are provided in a processed - and so more concentrated - form. You would have to eat about 3 apples or 4 bananas or 10 cups of chopped carrots in one sitting to get the 29g of fructose in one medium (21 ounce) cola beverage. (From: High-Fructose Corn Syrup VS. Table Sugar)
I agree with a premise of the article, that the accumulation of fat in liver (but I'll add - also in muscle and other tissue) plays a role in insulin resistance, and that insulin resistance plays a role in diabetes and other diseases. However, there are a number of factors that lead to this kind of fat deposition.
- You could, for example, have a disturbance in beta-oxidation in the mitochondria. Say your carnitine gate was blocked or maybe you didn't have a lot of gates, or you had a diminished number of mitochondria. This could lead to accumulation of fat within the cell, and a subsequent decrease in insulin sensitivity. This is a contributing factor in insulin resistance.
- You could also, for example, feed a high-fat diet. This has been shown to increase fat deposition within the cell leading to a decrease in insulin sensitivity.1
- You could, for example, have to oxidize excess ethanol. The metabolism of ethanol from alcoholic beverages leads to an excess of NADH which promotes the synthesis of fatty acids, the deposition of fat, and increased insulin resistance.
- Speaking of alcohol, it, possibly by its affect on aromatase, along with other environmental endocrine disruptors have been shown to affect the production and activity of hormones (besides insulin) which also control lipogenesis.
It may be more illuminating to look at the diet as a whole, instead of an isolated component. I've seen a number of studies that implicate a "meat and potatoes" pattern (high fat plus high refined carbohydrates) in the development of metabolic disorders like diabetes. People don't eat just sugar. What other foods are they eating and how does this exacerbate metabolic problems? Taubes touched on this in his discussion of soldiers who died in the Korean War. Those who ate high-fat plus high-sugar diets (Americans) had more plaques in their arteries than those who ate low-fat (typically high-carb) plus low-sugar diets (Koreans).
Anyway, I don't see the harm in eating a peach, nor in putting 2 teaspoons of sugar (an equivalent amount of fructose) in a cup of tea. I don't think either of those meal items are toxic.