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Gary Taubes and the Case Against Sugar

Illustration by Simone Rein

GARY TAUBES IS A JOURNALIST ON A CRUSADE. IN TWO earlier books, Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, he marshalled masses of evidence to support his thesis that the calories in/calories out model is wrong, that carbohydrates are the cause of obesity and most of the “diseases of civilization,” and that simply restricting carbohydrates will result in weight loss regardless of the total number of calories ingested. In his new book The Case Against Sugar ( he narrows his focus to sugar. He says it is an addictive drug and is the cause of the obesity epidemic and of many chronic diseases. He makes a cohesive argument backed by evidence, but his Author’s Note inadvertently exposes what is wrong with the book:

If this were a criminal case, The Case Against Sugar would be the argument for the prosecution.

In science, as in the courts, fairness requires that we hear the argument for the defense before we convict. Taubes’ book is a polemic, not a balanced scientific review. To his credit, he admits that his thesis is based partly on circumstantial evidence and has not been proven beyond all reasonable doubt. And yet he wants us to act on it. He thinks it justifies removing all added sugars and processed foods from our diet. In my opinion, he goes too far. He commits the same sin he accused the low-fat diet advocates of: going beyond the evidence and recommending society-wide changes based on inadequate data.

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About Skeptic

CAMPUS CRAZINESS: THE WAR ON SCIENCE No Barriers to Inquiry; I Am Not a Racist, And So Are You: An Unauthorized Peek at the Great Shaming Taking Place at an Institution of Higher Learning Near You, and Other Fireside Tales; Radically Wrong in Berkeley; When Secularism Becomes a Religion: The Alt-Left, the Alt-Right, and Moral Righteousness; When Science Becomes the Enemy SPECIAL SECTION — BIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR Canine Cognition: Did dogs become smarter through domestication? An interview with Dr. Brian Hare; Bird Brains: Are crows as intelligent as some scientists claim?; What Biology Can Teach Us About Crime and Justice ARTICLES: Gary Taubes and the Case Against Sugar; From Camelot to Conspiracy: Memory, Myth, and the Death of JFK; Now Playing at a Cartesian Theater Near You: Dualism Returns COLUMNS: The SkepDoc: Diet Sodas: Are the Dangers In the Chemicals or the Headlines?, by Harriet Hall, M.D. JUNIOR SKEPTIC: Ghost Ships, by Daniel Loxton