Sunday, 10 April 2016

Gary Taubes: Prosecuting Sugar

The award-winning author sat down with Andréa Maria Cecil to talk about his career, his upcoming book and the task of correcting nutrition science.

It took six years and countless reclusive hours for investigative science journalist and best-selling author Gary Taubes to finish his latest book: “The Case Against Sugar.”

He calls it “a prosecutor’s argument.” The work opens by examining whether sugar should be perceived as a food or a drug. Taubes is now fact-checking the book before publication.

The 59-year-old native New Yorker who today lives in Oakland, California, also penned the oft-cited “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat.” He’s won the Science in Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers three times and was awarded an MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowship for 1996-97.

I first talked to Taubes in August 2015 for an article focused on the folly of basing a human being’s nutrition plan on the calories-in-calories-out law of thermodynamics. The very next month I talked to Taubes again, this time about the vilification of dietary fat. He was a great interview—a perpetual skeptic with an affinity for information mining and a belief that we are all making this diet thing too complicated. In this third interview, I talked to Taubes in person at a middle-school library in Capitola, California. He was the keynote speaker at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s seventh annual Together for Kindergarten, an event that this year was focused on child nutrition—in particular, sugar. Attendees included preschool and kindergarten teachers, as well as K-12 administrators.

During his hour, Taubes focused on sugar. He called it his “buzzkill lecture” in which he alluded to sugar as an addictive drug not unlike cigarettes. Taubes is a former smoker of 20 years.

He noted that eating sugar never makes him feel full.

“There’s no point at which I will say, ‘I’ve had enough,’” he explained. “You’ll stop eating it either when you feel guilty or you feel sick.”

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