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May 16, 2005

After Sweet Industry Gift, American Diabetes Assn. Claims Sugar Has Nothing to Do With Diabetes

ada.jpgAfter the American Diabetes Association received a large gift from major manufacturer of sugar-sweetened beverages, its top medical official is claiming that sugar has nothing to do with diabetes. In an interview published in today’s Corporate Crime Reporter, Richard Kahn, the chief scientific and medical officer with the American Diabetes Association said “What is the evidence that sugar itself has anything to do with diabetes? There is no evidence,”

On April 21, the ADA announced a “three-year, multi-million dollar alliance” with Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, which produces sweetened soft drinks that are implicated in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the United States. Its parent company is Cadbury Schweppes, which is the third largest soft-drink manufacturer in the world, after Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

“Saying that sugar has nothing to do with diabetes is like saying that tobacco has nothing to do with emphysema,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert. “The American Diabetes Association has been so corrupted that they have sunk to the mentality of ‘tobacco scientists’ who denied the link between tobacco and lung cancer.”

Incredibly, when Kahn was asked whether sugary drinks have anything to do with diabetes, he responded “No one has a clue of whether they do or don’t.”

There is ample evidence linking diets high in sugar, and sugary drinks, with obesity. For example, a study in the Lancet, titled "Relation Between Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks and Childhood Obesity: a Prospective, Observational Analysis" found that the likelihood of obesity in children “increased 1.6 times for each additional can of sugar-sweetened drink that they consumed every day.”

Posted by Gary Ruskin at May 16, 2005 11:20 AM


It's hard to understand why an institution like the American Diabetes Assn would sell out to one of the major junk food drink companies and even spout it's phony logic.
I hear that when Kahn was asked whether sugary drinks have anything to do with diabetes, he responded “No one has a clue of whether they do or don’t.”
How can he lie like that when plenty of credible evidence shows the opposite?

Posted by: John Bellows at May 20, 2005 02:51 PM

i think that saying sugar has nothing to do with diabetes, is like saying there is no diabetes. diabetes is about your sugar level.

Posted by: leslie at May 23, 2005 02:05 PM

Hi folks:)
Diabetes is about a problem with metabolizing sugar. That problem seems to be associated with many people (not all) who are obese. Apparently at a certain point in obesity, many people develop problems metabolizing sugar. However, folks can develop diabetes who are not obese as well.
Does sugar by itself cause obesity? It's not clear to me that anyone knows this issue as yet. While there is some evidence that low carb diets can help some people to lose weight temporarily, I have seen no evidence of *long term* weight loss achieved with low carb dieting.
Besides there are other causes of weight issues (and diabetes in susceptible individuals who are too obese for their sugar metabolisms to handle). The folks who wrote "The Psychologist's Eat-Anything Diet" (Leonard and Lillian Pearson) maintain that a certain percentage of folks are obese because thye don't eat the foods they deeply crave, settling for candies are cakes they don't really love--and they have 10% to 30% of the folks who have studied with them losing a major part or all of their weight by this "eat the foods you most crave" approach.
Then there's the Overeater's Anonymous approach which suggests that there is denial and compulsion in the obese experience. I don't believe they have any statistics upon how many folks succeeded with their approach, citing privacy concerns.
There are behaviorist approaches, nutritional approaches (which emphasize generally the *importance* of sugar!), Freudian approaches, humanistic approaches.
All of these approaches have *some* people losing weight!
My point is that it's unclear that sugar is *the* culprit that promotes obesity. The best you can say is that for *some* folks, eliminating sugary substances would help them lose or maintain weight, while for *some* folks, being more in tune with their ethnic foods or their very favorite foods (no matter how much sugar those foods may have) is the key component to maintaining weight and to weight loss!
Relating all this to the topic, it isn't so much that the ADA says sugar may not be related to diabetes that has fault. It's more an issue of what, precisely, are the reasons they say this. Sugar seems to be related to diabetes for some people, but definitely not for all. The obvious common sense fact is that while 1/3 of the American population are obese, 2/3 are not--and they have as much sugar as they like!

best wishes,
Mike Rael, MS

Posted by: Mike Rael at June 2, 2005 03:51 AM

wow! Lots of MIS-information here. There are basically two types of diabetes - Type I and Type II. Type I (juvenile diabetes) is caused by some unknown malfunction of the pancreas - occurs in young people - and is ABSOLUTELY not "caused" by sugar, or even influenced by sugar in the diet. Pancreas doesn't create insulin - if you eat any carbohydrates at all, without insulin, you die! End of story.

Type II diabetes is generally a lifestyle issue - people who are obese (and some who are not) cannot process the naturally occuring insulin in their bodies. The result is that glucose ("blood sugar") builds up in their bodies, clogs their arteries, and eventually kills them - unless they take medication and usually insulin, and watch their diets! Here is where the sugar question arises.

Blood sugar is not created by what we traditionally think of as "sugar". High blood sugar is created by carbohydrates. As a (non-obese marathoner) Type II diabetic, sugar itself is one of the less-bad things for me to eat. The worse is rice, followed by pasta, followed by bread, followed by pastries, followed by potatoes. I actually get a worse blook sugar hit from four ounces of risotto (rice) than from four ounces of ice cream.

So, I think we have the ADA splitting hairs and trying to use the technicalities of the issue to justify a donation from Cadbury. Yes, they are technically correct - sugar does not cause diabetes. We don't really know what causes diabetes. However, the occurance of diabetes in obese people is statistically significant, and most people will agree that there is a correlation between sugar consumption and obesity - although i personally find a higher correlation between Big Macs and obesity.

All that said, many of us who struggle with controlling diabetes have to laugh at the ADA. If i followed their diet (30% carbohydrates!!) i would have been dead years ago. My personal diet is a limit of 30 grams of carbohydrate (120 calories) per day - pretty much limited to vegatables and a few fruits (and yes, NO SUGAR, but also no rice, potatotes, bread, pasta, etc.)

Posted by: richard cameron at June 2, 2005 05:29 AM

Thank you Mr. Cameron and others for intelligent and insightful responses. Too bad we don't have more folks with your experience and insight in the FDA or ADA. But wait... their misinformation may not be a problem of experience or intelligence. It could be weakened morality at work. MDs too? Too bad...
Thanks again.

Posted by: jim sharpe at June 2, 2005 10:32 AM

It seems to me the that the FDA and ADA are the
same. they are just interested in lining their pockets. Sugar is not good for you if you don't have diabetes. I think it has been established that sugar has something to do with obesity. And
a lot of obese people are diabetic. I have Type
II diabetes, and all my doctors for some reason have told me to stay away from sugar. I wonder why? I think what Mr. Kahn has stated is criminal.

Posted by: Jerry Stovall at June 2, 2005 01:07 PM

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