Fat and Sugar Always Blamed Together in the Media

Lots of media about obesity on CNN this past month. Probably due to the CDC stats that came out earlier and the release of a new HBO documentary on obesity. However, they never really seem to explore carbohydrates as the issue. Just checkout some of the headline in todays CNN video:


“Americans struggle with weight. Lose up to 10lbs in a year by cutting 100 calories a day”

10 lbs in a year by just cutting out 100 calories! Wow what a statement! So are you telling the audience that they will lose the same amount of weight whether its cut from 100 calories of carbs or fat despite things such as individual genetics and the insulin-fat storage response from carbs?


“Link Between Weight and Disease. Obesity contributes to heart disease and cancer”

Obesity contributes to heart disease and cancer. This headline makes it sound like obesity causes heart disease and cancer. But is it really the obesity that is “contributing” to these things or the consumption of things like excess sugar/carbs (if you believe in the carbohydrate hypothesis) or even consumption of fat (if you believe in the traditional low-fat advice). Obesity is not the problem. For you healthcare practitioners out there, remember that 20% of patients with metabolic syndrome are not obese!


“America’s Obesity Problem. 68% of adults are overweight or obese.”

This headline is dramatized off the heezy. Combining both overweight and obese categories into one large percentage? C’mon! While its less controversial to use BMI to calculate their definition of “obese” the BMI standards of being “overweight” are very suspect especially when applied to people who workout.

At the same time, CNN is also touting changes that California has made in battling obesity by fighting junk food in schools. Check out some of these statements:

“High school students in California are eating fewer calories and less added sugar and fat during the school day than students from other states.”

Seems like anytime you way to blame sugar, you have to also blame the fat as well.

“If teenagers consume 158 fewer calories on average, while maintaining healthy levels of physical activity, it could go a long way toward preventing excess weight gain…”

Again, touting the “calories is a calorie” dogma. We need to ask what sources are the calories coming from.

“Limiting calories from junk food could potentially help a student shed about 7.5 pounds over the school year…”

Agreed, but what is it about most junk food that can bring about these effects? Could it be the sugar (for candy bars) and starchy carbs (for chips and etc)?

Quote by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the article: “Just because students cannot purchase high-fat, high-sugar candies does not automatically mean they’re eating a spinach salad in its place. If we really want to improve the quality of students’ diet, we need to promote fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy alternatives that appeal to students.”

Whole grains to replace high-fat high sugar candies? That sounds like it could work…so if TheFatNurse replaces a kid’s snickers bar with these whole grain snacks instead:

Healthy cause it says WHOLE GRAIN!

C’mon those are not good alternatives.

The Bottom Line: The media continues to push a message of low fat and blaming fat consumption as a contributor to obesity. If you believe in the carbohydrate hypothesis then this message will not solve the obesity issue. However, blaming sugar may seem like the media is doing a right thing, but the message of replacing the sugar with whole grains needs to be clarified better (as seen in the cereals above). Additionally, there is also a tendency to blame fat whenever sugar is blamed as well. Until the media starts questioning the “a calorie is a calorie” dogma then these sorts of generalizations will continue.


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