UCSF Launches SugarScience, a Public Education and Research Initiative Focused on Sugar’s Health Impacts
Twitter summary: UCSF launches SugarScience, an initiative on sugar’s dangerous health impacts. Visit SugarScience.org for more information
A group of health scientists at UCSF have teamed up with scientists at UC Davis and Emory to launch SugarScience, an initiative focused on explaining the health effects of sugar consumption to the general public. SugarScience is led by a team of 12 independent researchers (i.e. don’t accept industry funding) who have reviewed over 8,000 published research papers – the key findings from these papers are highlighted on the SugarScience website. The website presents some of the most compelling findings in valuable infographics, videos, and quizzes. The website also features news updates, a SugarScience blog, and a tool for visitors to submit questions to the SugarScience team.
One of the most interesting claims on SugarScience is that 74% of processed foods contain added sugar. Added sugar is frequently listed under at least 60 different names on labels (e.g. corn syrup, lactose, honey, etc.), making it difficult for many to know how much sugar they are actually consuming. Another interesting statistic on the site is that drinking one to two sugar-sweetened drinks a day is linked to a 26% risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to people who drink less than one sugar-sweetened beverage a month (please note, it's impossible to say that sugary drinks directly cause type 2 diabetes, but the correlation is notable nonetheless). Studies also find that the average American consumes three times the daily recommended amount of added sugar, which the scientists argue contributes to the prevalence of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease.
The SugarScience initiative is one of many recent efforts that highlight a link between sugar and chronic illness. Recently, a New York state assemblyman planned to introduce legislation requiring sugar-sweetened beverages to include health warning labels, similar in way to those on cigarettes. This was preceded by first-ever US tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that passed in Berkeley this past November. –MH