Drug or treat? Taubes headlines 'sugar busting' event

Charlottesville City School Board candidate Ivana Kadija hasn't been quiet about her mission: restricting sugar in schools. In an event tonight dubbed "The Case Against Sugar," Kadija's bringing in an anti-sugar big-gun: Gary Taubes, bestselling author of Why We Get Fat: And What to do About It and Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health. 

Taubes has spent the past decade researching the implications of sugar and believes its massive overabundance in the American diet is at the root of the obesity epidemic and accompanying diseases including diabetes and hypertension. A correspondent for Science Magazine, Taubes has written extensively for the New York Times and is the only three-time recipient of the Science in Society Journalism Award of the National Association of Science Writers.

Following Taubes presentation, a panel discussion moderated by this reporter and an audience Q&A will take place featuring, in addition to Taubes, local family physician Dr. Gregory Gelburd; UVA Associate Research Director Dr. Matthew Trowbridge, who sits on the Advisory Board of the National Policy & Legal Analysis Network (NPLAN) to Prevent Childhood Obesity; Dr. Barbara Stitt, Ph.D., author of Food and Behavior; Nutritional Guidelines for Correcting Behavior; and Dr. Wendy Lynch, UVa Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences.

Kadija, whose for-profit wellness consulting business is sponsoring the event, says representatives from the City Schools and the local Community Action on Obesity taskforce were invited to participate, but declined. The Hook's calls to those agencies were not immediately returned.

"The Case Against Sugar" will be held in the St. Anne's Learning Village Auditorium, 799 Faulconer Drive on September 26 from 7:30-9:30pm. Free.


I so wanted to be there tonight! Especially after the sugar-and-children research released on NPR and, apparently, every other major news organization today. Alas, have been paying attention to my own child's schedule and couldn't do it.

I'm disappointed with CCS for declining the invitation. CCS has disappointed me before and will doubtless do it again: all things to all people not being possible. But surely we can all get behind the idea that sugar-laced ground beef shouldn't be part of a school lunch. I know full well that there is a tremendous game of twister going on in every public school department: 'this' money for 'these' things only --- a dozen times over given grants and various imperatives from federal-department-this and state-department-that. I know it's hard. So is being a parent and I know I need to say certain unpopular 'nos' that cost me and my child. The cost is, if I find the right path, felt today and not long-term. I will and do err. So will CCS, but if CCS doesn't even show up to talk about it...well, I'm disappointed. CCS should show up and should explain why it's hard, so we have an opportunity to go to bat for them. If they don't show up, they'll always lose. And so will our children.

As the only three-time recipient of the Science in Society Journalism Award, Mr. Taubes provides a good example of the power of activism journalism. On the subject of advocacy journalism, Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, recently said: “Advocacy journalism can be a very valuable thing: people with a cause, people who want to change the world, people who want to take the country in a different direction. And there is more of that. There are more organizations that are doing long-term investigative reporting and generally they do buy into advocacy journalism. There are others that are forming that are taking the traditional tact of pursuing the truth wherever it leads, without a preordained direction, and we tend to trust those, I think, a little bit more because they have a track record—the good ones—of being balanced.” (Gibson appeared on the Charlottesville, VA, politics interview program Politics Matters with host and producer Jan Madeleine Paynter discussing journalism http://bit.ly/pm-gibson)