Date of release: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Dr Tatiana ChristidesIs eating sugar the cause of an array of major illnesses ranging from cancer to heart disease or are current health stories in the media overblown?

That's the key question Dr Tatiana Christides will address in her public lecture Sweet poison...or not? Is sugar really ruining our health? It takes place at the University of Greenwich at Medway on Wednesday 22 February.

According to Dr Christides, a registered nutritionist and physician in the university's Faculty of Engineering & Science, unravelling the evidence can be a major challenge.

She says: "It's unquestionable that sugars cause dental cares, and they may contribute to obesity when we eat too much of them. However, it's not clear that sugars are different from any other nutrients that are consumed in excess."

Dr Christides, Programme Leader for the university's Human Nutrition BSc (Hons), is on a mission to tackle media health stories that fail to explain fully the research they are based on – and can potentially mislead and worry the public.

She says that just because research shows an association between diets, sugar consumption and diseases, it is wrong to state that sugar causes the diseases.

"We are hard-wired to make associations. If I pick a mushroom, eat it and then I'm sick, my mind will naturally associate the mushroom with feeling poorly. There are good evolutionary reasons for making these associations! However, it's not actually proven that the mushroom made me ill. I could have been sick because I ate a contaminated piece of cheese three days ago, or because I picked up a sickness bug from someone else."

Dr Christides thinks everyone should question research claims being quoted in health scare stories and, if they are concerned, read the research papers online to look at an overview of the experiments.

During her lecture, Dr Christides will examine and comment on some of the recent studies underlying claims that sugar is "pure, white and deadly".

"I'm not calling out bad science, but misrepresentation of scientific research, mainly in the popular media.

"We need to know whether the research was relating to animals or people. We need to question whether the amounts of foods, such as sugars, were anything like the quantities we would or could consume in our everyday lives.

"Furthermore, we need to know if the foods were eaten or given to the research subjects in some other way – such as, in one recent study with rats, directly injected into the brain. We need to ask ourselves if the way these studies were conducted makes sense," she adds.

The lecture will be held in Ward Room, Pembroke Building, at the university's Medway Campus at Chatham Maritime. It starts at 6.30pm and will be followed by light refreshments.

Places are limited, so please book in advance – call 020 8331 9800 or email
FES-public-lectures@gre.ac.uk 

Story by Public Relations