London: Sugar is the real villain in the obesity epidemic, and not fat as people used to think, a leading US doctor has said.
Dr Robert Lustig, who was this month in London and Oxford for a series of talks about his research, likens sugar to controlled drugs.
He pointed out that cocaine and heroin are deadly because they are addictive and toxic - and so is sugar.
According to the Guardian, Lustig`s book, Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar has made waves in America and has now been published in the UK.
As a paediatrician who specialises in treating overweight children in San Francisco, he has spent 16 years studying the effects of sugar on the central nervous system, metabolism and disease.
His conclusion is that the rivers of Coca-Cola and Pepsi consumed by young people today have as much to do with obesity as the mountains of burgers.
He explained that foodstuffs that raise insulin levels in the body too high are the problem.
Lustig blamed insulin for 75 to 80 percent of all obesity.
Insulin is the hormone, he says, which causes energy to be stored in fat cells. Sugar energy is the most egregious of those, he added.
But his bigger message is that cheap sugar is endangering lives, the paper said.
When high-fat foods were blamed for making us overweight, manufacturers tumbled over each other to produce low-fat products. But to make them palatable, they added sugar, causing much greater problems, it added.