Sugar Shock: How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life - and How You Can Get Back on Track
By Connie Bennett, CHHC, with Stephen T. Sinatra, MD Berkley Books 2007
Reviewer: Susan Moores, MS, RD
The authors promise to enlighten readers about "the dark side of sugars and quickie carbs." They claim sugars (and refined carbohydrates) are responsible for many, if not most, of today's health issues: the obesity epidemic; the dramatic increase in diabetes; memory troubles, cancer, heart disease, fertility problems and more.
Sugar Shock does not contain a "diet plan" per se. Nearly three-quarters of the book is spent informing readers about the harm sugars and refined carbohydrates have caused to our health and the role government, food manufacturers, advertising agencies, schools and more have played in our "addiction" to or at least strong desire for, these foods. The final quarter of the book is about how to minimize sugar consumption. It includes tips and answers to frequently asked questions about reducing sugars in the diet and a chapter on deciphering food labels.
The title of the book gives a sense of what's to come: a discussion intended to alarm and provoke readers into making changes in what they eat. It moves between sound advice and less-established statements, such as advising eliminating or cutting back on sweets could help resolve sexual dysfunction and potentially resolve marital discord.
Many of the claims offer reports and studies (mostly animal-based) to support the points, but much of the author's evidence comes from quotes she obtained from scientists and nutritionists who have also written consumer books. As a health professional, one looks for more sound science to back up the book's inferences and strong statements.
Amid the fear-raising dialogue on sugars and refined carbohydrates, there are interesting insights from nutrition researchers and experts. The book offers food for thought in terms of how added sugars and refined carbs can negatively affect health. However, there are many other facets to good health, including regular physical activity, eating plenty of healthful, flavorful foods and getting adequate sleep. Sugars are an important piece of the puzzle and the advice to cut back is worth heeding. But this book may give you the impression sugars are the be-all, end-all to our quest for better health. Sugar Shock is best read with an open mind, taken with a grain of salt (or two).