Mark Bittman’s sugar correction

by Walter Olson on March 6, 2013

“That is quite a correction in today’s Times to Mark Bittman’s column the other day about sugar and diabetes,” notes Ira Stoll. Bittman’s column began with the striking opener “Sugar is indeed toxic” and went on to promote a far-reaching regulatory crackdown on sweetened foods. But it soon came under sustained attack from various commentators (more) for misstating recent findings about the health effects of sugar in the diet; it’s true that sugar intake tends to cause obesity and obesity itself causes diabetes, but it’s a separate, unresolved question whether sugar by itself instigates diabetes through some mechanism of action not common to other highly caloric foods.

Here is the correction:

Mark Bittman’s column on Thursday incorrectly described findings from a recent epidemiological study of the relationship of sugar consumption to diabetes. The study found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher rates of diabetes — independent of obesity rates — but stopped short of stating that sugar caused diabetes. It did not find that “obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.” Obesity is, in fact, a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, as the study noted.