From John Yudkin to Jamie Oliver: a short but sweet history on the war against sugar

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In 2016, an anti-sugar campaign headed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was launched in the United Kingdom. Dubbed a ‘crusade against sugar’, Oliver’s documentary Sugar Rush examined Britain’s penchant for sweetness, exposing the health implications of excessive consumption and calling on the British government to tax sugary drinks in order to reduce obesity and diet-related diseases. In the midst of the furore that ensued, the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and the Public Health Collaboration (PHC) published a report, which demanded a major overhaul of official dietary guidelines. The report condemned the dietary doctrine of ‘low fat’, which had dominated official dietary guidelines in the United Kingdom since 1983, alleging the advice was based on ‘flawed science’ which had failed to curb rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Their
call intensified the debate even further; while members of the PHC described low-fat guidelines as ‘the biggest mistake in modern medical history’, others warned that reversing the current guidelines may prove disastrous for public health.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProteins, Pathologies and Politics
Subtitle of host publicationDietary Innovation and Disease Since the Nineteenth Century
EditorsDavid Gentilcore, Matthew Smith
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018


  • dietary guidelines
  • sugar
  • diet-related disease

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