MTPR

Sugar vs. Cholesterol: John Yudkin vs. Ancel Keys

May 1, 2015

Greg and Jon travel back to the mid-1960s, when an alarming rise in the number of heart attacks led scientists to look for causal links between diet and heart health.

Based on the results of his 1970 "Seven Countries" study, American nutritionist Ancel Keys concluded that dietary fat was to blame for high serum cholesterol and thus for heart attacks.  British physiologist John Yudkin disagreed, naming sugar, especially fructose, as the cause of heart disease as well as cavities, obesity, liver disease, and some forms of cancer.

Yudkin's 1972 book, "Pure, White and Deadly," argued that dietary fat and saturated fat are harmless. He was quickly attacked by Keys. Greg sums up what followed: "Keys won." In response to the work of Keys and other advocates of low fat consumption, in the 1970s, the food industry successfully manufactured a huge market for its own processed foods, which contained little saturated fat but lots of sugar.

For decades, Yudkin's point of view was nearly silenced. But recently, the tide has turned.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 5/3/15 and 5/7/15. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays and again at 4:54 p.m. Thursdays, or via podcast.)

Below: a ninety-minute lecture from 2009 called "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," by UCSF pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, author of the 2012 book: "Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease."