Is sugar a "toxin" or a "drug?"

Published online: Jan 23, 2015
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We have seen our fair share of purported health professionals disparaging natural sugar to further sugar scare tactics.

Which makes recent comments by Dr. David Katz, a respected health professional who has written extensively on the American diet, all the more encouraging.

When interviewed by Refinery 29 editor Kelsey Miller for a recent article, "Quitting Sugar is Not the Answer," Katz was asked whether sugar was a toxin or a drug.

Katz did not mince words.

“Absolutely not,” Katz said. “Glucose floats in our bloodstream at all times and without it, we’re dead.”

Katz continued to point out that while we’ve seen headlines comparing cookies to cocaine no study has successfully proven that sugar, or any other food items are comparable to actual drugs.

Katz said these claims are a result of overblown diet hype.

“I’ve treated patients with true drug addictions and I’ve never seen anything remotely like that related to sugar or any other food ingredient,” Katz said.

We couldn’t agree more. As the Sugar Association’s Vice President of Scientific Affairs Dr. Courtney Gaine stated in a recent New York Times letter to the editor:

“There is currently no evidence that a single nutritional substance can elicit a substance use disorder in humans, as determined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5 criteria.”

Eating disorders that result in overeating are serious problems for some people, but the scientific evidence that sugar is addictive simply isn’t there.

Editor’s Note: Katz is a retained expert in the matter of Western Sugar Cooperative, et al. vs. Archer-Daniels-Midland, Inc., et al. His quotes here are independent of that matter and attributed to the article "Quitting Sugar is Not the Answer."