Sugar: It’s The New Tobacco

Big Sugar: Spoof Ad Mockup

Big Tobacco companies have been ordered to purchase advertising in major media outlets warning of the dangers in using their products. Ironically, another even more widely used product — sugar — may be just as deadly (if not more so). Sooner or later, sugar will be exposed as a much bigger health threat than tobacco. So we at MAF have taken the liberty to draw up a futurist ad for Big Sugar to use when the time comes.


Big Sugar: Spoof Ad


In case you missed the tobacco ad, the original is displayed below.

tobacco ad



  • Brad says:

    As an individual who has a close friend affected by type 1 diabetes, I’d have a bit more considering when putting together graphics such as the ad that you would like to see from the sugar industry. Too many times the genetic word of diabetes is used when is should be clarified as type 2. Generalizations such as this one feed stereotypes that people with diabetes (whether type 1 or 2) shouldn’t eat sugar of any sort, or that they are somehow the cause of their disease. Type 1 and 2 are very different and constitution should be used, especially given that this graphic is meant to be informative and educational.

    Aside from that I mostly agree. I don’t feel that your graphic does a great job of separating processed sugar from natural sources, and judging by comments it seems MAF supports sugar from natural (fruits, honey, etc).

  • Beau B says:

    How about stop blaming “Big Sugar” and start trying to engage people in common sense? Of course excessive sugar is unhealthy. As is excessive fat, or protein, or water. Low carb superiority is as simplistic and irrational as breatharians. Ok that’s an exaggeration, but any highly educated and experienced dietician who isn’t trying to spruik an agenda or a book will agree that balanced macros including moderate carbs (of any GI) don’t present the same sort or risk as tobacco. To claim otherwise is basically fraud or stupidity.

    • Hi, Beau,

      Added sugars are unhealthy in a different, and more insidious way than excessive fat, protein, or water.

      We’re specifically addressing sugar and junk food companies, who like tobacco companies, have used dishonest advertising, as well as litigation and political power to continue selling stuff that is bad for health. It’s not just about the dangers of added sugar—it’s about two entities peddling unhealthy substances and then protecting themselves in very similar ways across the board.

      As to the dangers of sugar—I want to be very specific that we’re not talking about “carbs.” We’re talking specifically about sugars that are almost always refined and added to foods in order to make them sweet or palatable. There’s new research to suggest that added sugar shouldn’t be considered an “energy source,” as it actually makes it more difficult for the body to fuel itself, despite providing calories. Here’s a great research paper on the subject, and an excerpt from the abstract:

      “…Added sugars (sucrose, a.k.a. table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) may provide energy (4 kcal/g) but at current intakes they do not facilitate—and may even hinder—the production of energy. Not only do added sugars displace nutritionally superior foods in the diet, but they may also deplete nutrients from other foods that have been consumed, as well as from body stores, in order to enable their proper oxidation and liberate their calories as energy. Additionally, the consumption of added sugars damages the mitochondria and hence impairs energy generation. Moreover, overconsuming added sugars may result in a kind of ‘internal starvation’ (via leptin and insulin resistance) leading to further hunger signals in the body. Added sugars promote nutrient and energy deficit and through this novel pathway promote obesity.”

  • Nancy Fulton says:

    Great article Phil. You are the one person who I can say made a huge positive impact on my life.
    I was honored to work for you. I hope to meet up with you again some day.

  • Daniel says:

    Thank you, this is great and must be made more visible.
    How long will it take governments to realize that they have been hoodwinked by the sugar giants all along?
    If the major population could only be more open-minded to question the misinformation they are being fed by industry. Most people I speak to think it’s a non-issue 🙁

  • Tony says:

    Probably a number of issues as to why it is different today but one of the biggest is that unlike in the past sugar gets added to almost everything. Thus the ingestion of sugar is much more today and it increases as people become more addicted to it, as it is in almost everything, and will not eat things without some sort of sweetener because that is what they “like.”

    Eating what one likes can be a dangerous “taste test” since often likes can be driven and sugar sure drives ones likes.

  • Ajit Thomas homas says:

    Naturally occurring sugar exists in fruits and some vegetables like carrots. Are we supposed to refrain from these foods since they contain sugar?

  • Bob says:

    Hi, I’m a bit confused about this issue. People have been using sugar for centuries and have been doing fine. Why now is sugar a problem. We all know over indulging in many items can be and is harmful to ones ones body. What’s it going to be next , to much breathing in the air wait I should stop there. I’m sure on day this will be a problem. But probably not in my lifetime. I look at it like this. I have one life to live and I want to enjoy it. I’m not going to get freaked out every time some article is put out saying something we eat is bad for us. If that were the case we would all starve to death. I’m sure if research was done there would be an article about everything and how bad it is for us. Take eggs for example. They have been a breakfast staple since the first egg hatched or the first egg was laid. Then all of a sudden “Don’t Eat Eggs They Are Killers”. Well we all know what happened with that. The price of eggs went up and every morning in homes all over this country eggs are being eaten. Comparing sugar to cigarettes , come on. Maybe 50+ years ago you could because back then the tobacco companies we’re not adding chemicals to their products. Heck they even came out and admitted it and was slapped with a very large fine. The prices went up and people still smoked. I’m pretty sure the companies who produce sugar are not going to start adding chemicals to their products. If they did just think how hopped up our kids would be then compared to now. People if we going on believing every article we read , we might as well curl up in the fetal position and stop living. Just my opinion , I’m sure there will be a whole lotta backlash. But hey I can take. I eat sugar.

    • Barry says:

      Wow Ivan, smug much? How about actually addressing Bob’s question? He has some valid points.

      • Barry:

        More than anything I was heading off Bob’s anticipation of a backlash from this group. The other part of my point is that this particular argument isn’t settled between people—it’s settled within our own bodies.

        Bob, to answer your implicit question directly: Scientists have been wrong about many things. But the difference between sugar and eggs, oxygen (and saturated fats, etc.) is that the latter do NOT directly chemically excite the brain’s reward centers like sugar does. There is little chance that oxygen (or other unlikely substances) will be named addictive in the future, especially considering our maturing understanding of the body’s neuroendocrine systems.

        (As to the question of putting chemicals in sugar like the Tobacco companies did—sugar is the chemical they put in food to make it addictive.)

    • Angelos says:

      All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison

  • bob beede says:

    when exercising lets say for a century ride on a bicycle you need a certain amount of some type of sugar,my understanding is that you burn it off exercising,i have thought of using a product called ucan it supposed to be better but it does have a stevia extract in it,my goal is to only use sugar on long endurance events and try not to use sugar any other time

    • David says:

      I partly agree Bob. I’m a fat-adapted athlete and use a small quantity of gels when racing at high intensity where I will burn through my glycogen stores. But on my long 100+km training rides I do those fasted. Absolutely no need for extra sugar. Fat provides all the fuel you need to go all day and preserves precious glycogen stores for when you need it – like going up hill or sprinting for the traffic lights. So I disagree that you “need a certain amount of sugar” for a long distance event.

  • Bob says:

    Dr. Phil,

    You are right on the money about sugar. And it truly is about the money.


  • John M Ormond says:

    It has taken sixty years with cigarettes and I wonder how long for sugar to become socially unacceptable. Do you include starches in your manifesto Dr Phil.?

  • Csaba, an open-minded dude from Hungary says:

    You are on a mission, dr. Phil. All the good people like Dr. Cucuzzella and dr. Tim Noakes, you have all the credit, which is needed to get people’s attention. Go for it! I am a big fan all of yours!
    Keep up the good work, the world needs your added value and impact on things going on!

  • barbara says:

    And then there is alcohol!

  • Dr. Phil says:

    Hey everyone,
    I know you all have a comment…please share with us!
    Dr. Phil

    • Arlenee Peralta Cosgaya says:

      Hallo Dr
      I bought your book,i make triatlón and i do not know exacltli how to design my own day to day training ,
      What to do and dont
      Can you help me to disign my personal training plan so i can recocer my health?

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