Thoughts after an afternoon spent with scientists from The Sugar Association, CSPI, Pepsi, and George Washington School of Public Health – in the same room

2018.03.21 Cross-Disciplinary Discussion Surrounding Sugar and Sweetener Consumption, Washington, DC USA 4165
2018.03.21 Cross-Disciplinary Discussion Surrounding Sugar and Sweetener Consumption, Washington, DC USA 4165 (View on Flickr.com)

As the title of the post reads, how could someone interested in nutrition not spend an afternoon this way 🙂 .

The afternoon was part of a seminar series, From Biology to Behavior: A Cross-Disciplinary Discussion Surrounding Sugar…, coordinated by Allison Sylvetsky Meni, PhD:

The Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at the George Washington University (GW) Milken Institute School of Public Health (@GWPublicHealth), in conjunction with the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness (@RedstoneGWSPH), the GW Food Institute, and the GW Institute for Corporate Responsibility, is hosting a cross-disciplinary seminar series on the topic of sugar and sweeteners. The seminar series will take place on three dates throughout the Spring 2018 semester: February 22nd, March 22nd, and April 26th.

This seminar was organized well and livestreamed to anyone who wanted to watch. The content was presented under Chatham House Rule. To respect the opportunity that this was to learn, and the rules, I won’t attribute material to specific people. My photographs from the day are below.

My thoughts after the day:

  • The health impact of sugar seemed singularly focused on obesity. I feel this is a last-century attitude. In my family medicine physician-ness, I came with an interest in metabolic health, which in this century is more significant for humans.
  • I was the person who asked this question, about whether the 70’s statement “Sugar is Safe” is still felt to be true today. The answer I heard was that “the dose is the poison”:

2017.08.03 #LowCarbSanDiego San Diego CA USA 7905
2017.08.03 #LowCarbSanDiego San Diego CA USA 7905 (View on Flickr.com)

* The foundation of the day, to my ears, was very much “a calorie is a calorie,” again, I feel this is last-century thinking
* There was no discussion of the hormonal/biochemical influences of various foods. That meant, of course, no Krebs Cycle slide which I am used to seeing at dialogues about nutrition 🙂

  • The balance of the content I received points to sugar as having addictive qualities compared to other foods. I have not spent much time in this specific space, and I am not a neurobiologist. The argument was convincing to me. Really made me think about the power of these little molecules in our lives. It is special in many ways.
  • I’m happy that in Washington, DC, a convening like this can happen that’s open to all. The number of physicians in the world that ever get to sit in a room with these organizations at the same time is small (often by self-exclusion).

My expectations are set appropriately about what information people bring to a room like this and how they decide to deliver it.

Noting: The Sugar Association has not tweeted since 2009, a total of 6 tweets.

I am from the generation of physicians who came to health care with a desire to know what is best for health, because we saw a lot of things perpetuated by the generation before us that were not best for health.

Noting also, the recent commentary in The Lancet:

Just Read: Prevalence trends tell us what did not precipitate the US obesity epidemic

Photos from the afternoon are below, click any to enlarge.

Thank you to Dr. Sylvetsky Meni for arranging the dialogue and I look forward to the next one.

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