Dr Peter Brukner is an Australian sports medicine physician and is doctor to the Australian cricket team. He has worked for other high-profile sports teams, including Liverpool Football Club, where he was head of sports medicine and sports science at from 2010 to 2012. Dr Brukner is dedicated to improving public health and is the co-founder of the Australian SugarByHalf campaign. This talk was given at the Public Health Collaboration conference 2017 in Manchester.
Many conflicting opinions exist on the solution to the obesity and diabetes epidemic. There are many different diets and regimens around these days, all coming in from slightly different angles. Thankfully, however, one fact that everyone seems able to agree on is that sugar is the main culprit. Dr Brukner stresses that reducing sugar intake is the single most important intervention for improving health, hence the SugarByHalf campaign. With the war on sugar in full-swing, it is important to identify how to move forward.
One problem with getting people to reduce their intake of the sugar that they love, is that an alternative often needs to be provided. Unfortunately one such alternative, saturated fat, has long been demonised by the likes of the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA), who have a tremendous amount of authority. Their stance runs counter to the current best available evidence, which states that saturated fat is not linked to coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease, as is often claimed. A large amount of this resistance originates from the sugar industry itself, understandably so, as they do not want their profits to drop. However, the sponsorship of scientific organisations, such as the AHA and ADA, by the sugar industry needs to be recognised in order to bring about informed change.
For the overall low carb movement to take effect, doctors and dieticians, as figures of authority on the subjects of health and diet, need to support it. One of the best ways to convince a doctor of the validity of a healthy low carb diet, is for a patient to show them what great results it has produced for them. It can sometimes just be a case of recommending some directed reading, as Dr Brukner does for his colleagues.
Whilst the population are beginning to wise up to the dangers of sugar, there is still much more work to be done. It is vital that dietary and lifestyle changes come to the fore in treating obesity and diabetes. The war against sugar must be wo, as the current healthcare paradigm of medication and surgery is neither effective nor financially sustainable.