Can sugar be cocaine

Quark and such

In the NDR health program “Visite”, a doctor with steep theses about sugar is noticed: It affects the “addiction center of the brain similar to cocaine”. Not only asks about this. But unfortunately there is an article in the dubious Epoch Times as evidence. Of all things. And that's not the only mistake.(Post from October 25, 2017) is now regarded as a general credit agency for food and health.

People have no inhibitions.

An unknown follower asks via Twitter why butter has become so expensive, but why organic butter has not risen in price as well.

A colleague wants to know what is true of the claim that microwaves destroy important substances in food and give rise to poisons, allegedly discovered 30 years ago by a Swiss doctor who has been fighting underground since then (something like that).

Other blogger friends involve in a discussion about sugar as a drug, by marking it on Facebook. What is there, what I mean, and in general.

I promise all applicants: We will endeavor to answer questions immediately and in detail. We also dedicate ourselves to the wildest conspiracies when it is only about food.

The microwave and the butter had to take a back seat, because the boring sugar number grew into an embarrassing little glitch for the NDR. And as found food for

It's about the health program of the NDR, the "Visite". This is an old flagship in the broadcasting landscape. One of the TV doctors appearing there as an expert had warned about sugar in the broadcast on October 17, 2017.

The editors played their steep sentence online via Facebook, including the comment that the WHO therefore advises limiting sugar consumption.



Comparing sugar to cocaine is nonsense

Blogger Irene Gronegger, also in the health sector, stumbled upon it. Does Sugar Work Like Cocaine? So makes you awake, addictive, hyperactive, is a dangerous, addictive drug, destroys the brain? And that as a doctor?

The colleague asked the NDR press office: What scientific evidence was there? At this point was called in and they were looking forward to a little skirmish.

That didn't suit us at all. It was noon, we were hungry, tired, had a cold, but still had to work something and the thing itself has long since been sucked out: No, sugar as a substance does not work like hard drugs, no matter what any Americans say, by Robert H. Lustig, the anti-sugar activist to David Ludwig from Harvard University to Tosca Reno, the clean-eating popess.

Scientifically, cheese has long been eaten: there is not a single food or substance in food that is addictive or dependent.

Not even sugar. All foods are harmless to cocaine, heroin and even nicotine. Therefore none is on the list of addictive substances, apart from alcohol. But it is not a food, but a luxury item. reported several times.

This does not justify or downplay the excessive gobbling of candy. But it does straighten things out: it is not the substance sugar that makes you physically dependent and acts like a drug, for example. It is the compulsive, overeating, behavior that changes the brain in a particular region that the TV doctor calls an "addiction center".

Correctly it is called the reward center, and that creates feelings of happiness with things that succeed just as much as with snacking on delicacies. Hard chemical drugs mimic and severely distort this natural mechanism, which is what makes them so dangerous.

But one thing is clear: this is a completely different number. All addiction researchers around the world agree on this.


Always reboiled: sugar as a drug

The Golden Blogger: Nominated as one of the four best food blogs of 2015

Whether food or any substance in food could still be addictive has been clarified to be on the safe side: In 2013, researchers commissioned the EU to draw up an international consensus paper that explored the situation on the subject of food and addiction.

Accordingly, there is no single food or ingredient that is addictive like a drug, with the exception of the pure luxury foods alcohol and coffee.

So far it doesn't look like the assessment will change.

This does not mean that there are not people with addictive or addictive eating behavior. And that they don't have exactly the characteristic changes in the brain that resemble those of drug users. Or actually develop an addictive greed for sweets, but especially for fatty foods. We are biologically calibrated for that.

But it's not about a chemical that manipulates the brain. It's about the disturbed behavior and the constant repetition: People do not become addicted to the substances sugar or fat. It depends on eating as a compulsive act.

The mechanisms in the brain are actually always the same. The changes that can be observed, for example in nuclear spin, too.

Regardless, everyone can read the details for themselves.

This is more about the interested parties who do not accept the scientific consensus on sugar as a food. You also don't have the common sense of the housewife who puts sugar in cake batter, but also knows when it's too much.

No, the conspirators regard sugar as poison and constantly come around the corner with the same claims and arguments as well as allegedly new evidence, play about gangs, write or cite dubious populist books, obtain questionable information from the Internet and swear by allegedly new studies, optionally also on sensitive data that has allegedly been kept under lock and key for 60 years.

These include specialists, doctors and journalists. Amazing actually. The whole thing is an American debate, in fact a campaign that does not apply to everyone. The relevant actors are also all from over there, that is no coincidence.


Sources: Epoch Times and the interview with a dead man

So we wanted to wave tired, but then it got funny, because colleague Gronegger got an answer from the NDR press office. woke up from the lethargy, because the mail from the NDR landed on the table with us.

Two links were given as evidence. One led to the Epoch Times, one to the German health news.

Excuse me, the Epoch Times? The campaign paper of the Falun Gong movement, in its German edition the favorite post of AfD voters and right-wing extremists? For example, DIE ZEIT describes the questionable portal.

Under no circumstances can an article from such a sling be considered a source for public service broadcasting, let alone evidence of facts from medicine and science.

The other source unfortunately affords an embarrassing misunderstanding under the sensational title "Sugar acts like heroin on the body". The article literally quotes Princeton researcher Bart Hoebel as if he had just been interviewed.

In the nucleus accumbens, the pleasure center of the brain, “sugar triggers the release of dopamine and opioids,” says Bart Hoebel of Princeton University in New Jersey. Dopamine is seen as the driving force behind drug addiction. And the opioids are substances that produce a numbing effect in the body by attaching to the opioid receptors. "The brain becomes addicted to its own opioids, as it would with heroin and morphine," adds Hoebel. Overall, drugs have a greater effect, but the process is essentially the same, according to Hoebel. Hoebel attributes this to a study carried out with rats, among other things.

Sounds good, but the article is from 2014. And Bart Hoebel died in 2011.


Oops, you made a mistake!

In such a case, unfortunately, you have to say: The NDR shouldn't have published that.

Incidentally, Bart Hoebel was a very renowned researcher whose work was continued in Germany and elsewhere. The result, however, is not the blatant statement that sugar is addictive.

The investigative department of had in the meantime written to the NDR press office and asked what these strange source links were all about.

The answer came in the evening: No, no, that, uh, was just a mistake, the doctor only looked for the links in the practice at the same time. These are neither her sources nor those of the editors. And the editors only passed it on, saying that these are "generally understandable media".

Interesting assessment.


Undisputed, but controversial - what now?

Otherwise, it was explained to us that there are "undisputed health risks" with sugar - but scientifically the matter is controversial, there are "different assessments and publications."

Ah yes. We understood that, of course: Schrödinger's sugar.

There was also new evidence, including another dubious source, a "Sleuthjournal", which links to an esoteric natural food portal, an older work by Bart Hoebel that was included in the EU consensus paper from 2013 - the result: Sugar is not addictive like cocaine . One misses the topic and revolves around anxiety disorders, another also deals with another topic, incidentally also based on Bart Hoebel (yes, that was a highly renowned addiction researcher).

In other words: These sources do not change anything in the state of science. This is still in line with the EU consensus paper, which was only confirmed internationally last year, 2016.

Science blog 2015: Special award from the editorial team "Science communicates"

The stubborn sugar conspirators, on the other hand, have no hard facts at their fingertips. They cite selectively, interpret tendentiously and one-sidedly, or suggest results and insights that do not even exist. Most of the time it takes place in the US, and that has its own charm.

Of course, everyone wants only the best, namely to protect their health. That is honorable, but you should be careful and dispense with dubious theses. The good end does not justify all means.

We don't want to bring up this whole sugar-is-drug discussion any further. Those interested can read that.

We, on the other hand, take a quick look at the journalistic craft and the editorial responsibility that the NDR now has.


Another goes online

Unfortunately, things didn't go smoothly in the network either.

The editors' Facebook post doesn't just blow up the doctor's steep sentence. To this end, the onliners of the editorial team confirm Visite on Facebook:

The World Health Organization therefore recommends no more than 25g of sugar a day.

Therefore, aha. It sounds like the WHO is warning against sugar because of its drug-like effects. But it is not like that. Not at all.

In 2015, the WHO warned against obesity and tooth decay from excessive sugar consumption. This is very clear in the reason for the recommendation. There is no mention of addiction, drugs, cocaine or other health hazards. The WHO is in fact informed about the state of science.

Because of "therefore". *

The online comment was simply blown senseless and without any control or research. If he doesn't even come from the editorial office. She should have been more careful and not sit with the tendentious simplifications.

The broadcast itself sees its content and statements, especially those from October 17. zum Zucker, as "well researched as always, and of course uninfluenced and independent" (from the moderation of October 17, 2017). It's a shame that nobody, neither the press office (communication professionals) nor the editorial team (experienced health editors) noticed that the doctor was sending a link to the Epoch Times.

And nobody took a quick look at the links and saw what was quoted there. Nobody has researched, nobody has checked and nobody looks to see what the online people are up to. They simply reflect what the editors and the doctor’s interview suggest.

One would wish for something else, from a health editor on public broadcasting.

And in today's times. It plays into the hands of conspiracy theorists. These are the people who, for example, get information from the Epoch Times, esoteric health portals or offers with "alternative news" such as the Sleuthjournal.

And not just about sugar. But also about chemtrails, invasions from space and reptiloids.

© Johanna Bayer

* The online editorial team of the Visite reacted to the contribution from and quickly changed their Facebook comment after it was published. The "therefore" has been deleted, as of October 30, 2017 - without any comment. New text: "The World Health Organization recommends no more than 25g of sugar a day".

Note: The German Health News responded immediately to's criticism and noted in their 2014 article that Bart Hoebel died in 2011. They also do not want to be called a "dubious portal" and lumped together with the Epoch Times, as they work according to the principles of the German Press Council (Press Code). I have therefore changed the text at this point. My criticism of the formulations in the article about Zucker and Bart Hoebel is accepted by the editorial staff in the matter.


EU Consensus Paper Food and Addiction (older version from 2013 is no longer online).

Update 2020: The consensus paper has been rewritten, here is the current version. It is still true that the idea of ​​individual foods that are addictive is wrong.

Broadcast Visite at the NDR on October 17, 2017

About ARTE's "Sugar Lie" and the US campaign



This entry was published on by Johanna Bayer in Found Food. Keywords: obesity, reward center, drugs, brain, cocaine, addiction, overweight, WHO, sugar.