According to a report by a team of UCSF researchers, the consumption of sugar is contributing to some serious world-wide health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The last three account for about 35 million deaths a year worldwide. This not good news for the brain, which responds to sugar as a toxin. You can be sure that anything negatively impacting the heart can also negatively impact the brain. According to Robert Lustig, MD, and colleagues, sugar represents more than just empty calories that help people pack on pounds. “There are good calories and bad calories, just as there are good fats and bad fats, good amino acids and bad amino acids, good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. But sugar is toxic beyond its calories.” This could help explain the reason that more than a third of individuals exhibiting metabolic syndrome (key metabolic changes that lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer—cancer cells are sugar hogs) are not clinically obese. It’s a problem, obviously for individuals, but it’s becoming a problem for health care systems as well. Non-communicable diseases now pose a greater health burden worldwide than infectious diseases. In the United States, estimates are that 75 percent of health care dollars are spent treating these diseases and their associated disabilities. It’s worth listening up. More tomorrow.