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What’s worse: sugar or fat?

We take a close look and find out if it’s sugar or fat that is more responsible for obesity and other health issues

What’s worse for our waistlines? Sugar or fat? The answer is sugar.

Surprised? That’s understandable. Almost all nutritional advice for the past 30-40 years has focused on removing saturated fat from our diets.

Over the past few years, we have seen a dramatic shift in how we view sugar in society.

We’ve had a high-profile campaign from Jamie Oliver raising awareness around sugar and obesity, the previous Chancellor George Osborne announced a new tax on sugary drinks, and study after study has shown that a low sugar diet, not a low fat diet, is the best way to lose weight, prevent heart disease and diabetes.

Over the past few years we have seen a dramatic shift in how we view sugar in society.Sugar has become dietary enemy number one

This is largely because, Robert Lustig, a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity, gave a talk in 2009 titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth.

In the video, Lustig argues that that fructose, a form of sugar everywhere in modern diets, is a “poison” responsible for the obesity epidemic. According to Lustig, sugar fries your kids’ liver and brain; just like alcohol. As a result, this explains why children can get diseases such as type 2 diabetes at such a young age.

As the evidence against sugar has mounted up, the evidence suggesting that saturated fat is not so bad for us has done likewise.

In a trial funded by the US National Institutes of Health, 150 men and women were split into two dietary groups, one was a high fat, low sugar diet, and the other was low fat, high sugar diet.

At the end of the study, those on the low sugar, high fat diet lost more weight on average than the low fat group.

Both groups were allowed to eat as many calories as they wanted.

In 2014, a programme called sugar vs fat aired on BBC2. They conducted the same experiment with identical twins and found the same results.

Sugar, therefore, is worse than fat when it comes to losing weight and fighting obesity.

Join the Big Fat Chat

  • Are you more wary about feeding you children fat than sugar?
  • Should more be done to highlight how sugar impacts on obesity?
  • Do you think more should be done to prevent food manufacturers adding unnecessary sugar into our diets?
  • Should we be taking more responsibility for our diets?
  • Should food labelling be made clearer so you know how much sugar you’re eating?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


  1. Judith Smythe

    February 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    I have been reading all food labels since June when I heard a radio program saying about Fat v’s Sugar and was amazed at how much Sugar is in things that don’t need it., things that we presume are healthy or weight reducing. I have since stopped buying so many things and substituted them for food I prepare myself. This weekend I found new frozen veg in Marks, they have cus cus , apricots peppers and all sorts of wonderful power foods, look at the sugar and it was 15% per portion why?
    I have lost 1stone just by cutting back on sugar, I still eat cheese, butter and drink a lot of milk. We have to get this message across.

    • Big Fat Chat Team

      February 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Congratulations on your weight loss Judith.

      We wrote an article about the amount of sugar is in some foods and it just shows how easy it is to eat more than your daily recommended amount of sugar. There seems to be a lot of foods out there with more sugar than needed in them.

    • David Brookes

      February 9, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Well done just eat real food and not artificialy sweetened food’s or vegetable fats as they are just as unhealthy

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Staffordshire’s Big Fat Chat is a public debate being run by Staffordshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board. It’s about hearing your opinions on how we should tackle obesity in Staffordshire.

We’ll use your views, alongside other research and evidence, to agree a joint plan to tackle obesity across the county.

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