Nutrition in the News
Sugar, Not Salt, Is the Real Dietary Villain
On July 23rd, 2015, Jennifer Abbasi wrote a controversial article, through Discover Magazine, that sugar may be contributing to the decline in health rather than salt. It was thought that reducing the intake of salt was to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease, but perhaps not anymore. Reviewing people who reduced their sodium intake, insufficient evidence was provided that this diet prevented cardiovascular disease; possibly because people are “salt sensitive”, and react to salt in different ways. Sodium is a necessary nutrient, unlike sugar, and therefore limiting sodium intake can be ineffective. Sugar is thought to cause excess caloric intake and increased weight gain, both of which have a direct correlation to high blood pressure. According to Abbasi the, “more you weigh, the more blood your tissues need to keep up oxygen and nutrient levels. The increase in blood volume tends to put more pressure on your vascular walls” (Abbasi, 2015). She concludes that one should focus on restricting their sugar intake, and forget about restricting sodium (Abbasi, 2015).
This article was written in Discover, a magazine written for the general population; it was produced for the consumers’ enjoyment, and to influence the reader to reconsider their diet. The reader does not have to pay initially to access the website, but there is a subscription service available. Discover magazine is known for bringing popular scientific news and information to the everyday person, written in a language they can understand. The author, Jennifer Abbasi, is a self-employed health and science writer and editor for the past fifteen years. Abbasi has written for Discover, Women’s Magazine, Fortune, Dr. Oz, Everyday Health, LiveScience, and more. She graduated from New York University and the University of Wisconsin, with degrees in Arts, English, and American Literature, there is no record of her studying any nutrition or other scientific fields in school. On her Linkedin account, she claims to be an expert in nutrition, chronic health conditions, cancer, women and children’s health, psychology, and others (Abbasi, n.d.). Considering that she went to school for the purpose of writing, her credibility within the health sciences field is not worth much. The article is written for the people who are not likely to be educated in the scientific field, so it is written in an easy language, with little to no scientific, or advanced medical terms. The conclusion is obtained from statements and studies by a co-executive editor of the American Journal of Hypertension, the USDA, the American Heart Association, the Institute of Medicine, and a cardiovascular research scientist (Abbasi, 2015). There is no expansive discussion on research done by the said sources. The reader has no insight on the study and therefore the conclusion can be misleading; the author states that people need to stop worrying about their sodium intake and focus solely on sugar consumption. She does not state that a person should consider their whole diet, focus on healthy foods, stay within stated guidelines, or consider individual limits to sugar intake. She warns that sugar alone will cause high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, when many other factors come in to play and should be considered. She also does not clearly state how the studies came to this conclusion either. Therefore, she does draw a simplistic conclusion from the complex study and drastically limits the summary to support her conclusion. It does not seem that the article has been updated since July 2015. The article would not be considered a reliable source since it was written with extreme assumptions (Abbasi, 2015).
Abbasi, Jennifer. (n.d). Experience [Linkedin]. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-abbasi-4327871
Abbasi, Jennifer. (2015, July 23). Sugar, Not Salt, Is the Real Dietary Villain. Discover. Retrieved from http://discovermagazine.com/2015/sept/8-white-crystal