Sugar Nation – Jeff O’Connell (quick review)

Sugar Nation is more than a cautionary tale – it is the true story of one man’s struggle to regain control of his life and save himself from his father’s fate.

This prescriptive memoir tells the tale of a tall, fit Men’s Health writer who knew nothing about type 2 diabetes until learning one day that his estranged father had just lost a leg to the disease. At a routine physical the following week, he found out that same killer had him in the crosshairs as well. He was stunned and, like most people who receive a serious medical diagnosis, frightened.

Through the prism of one man’s experience, Sugar Nation is a penetrating, startling, and insightful look at this quiet killer and what nees to be done now to triumph over it – before it’s too late.

I picked this title up from NetGalley a few months ago, and it’s taken me a fairly long time to make my way through it – but then, I find that’s often the case with non-fiction. I wanted to be shocked, and warned off sugar, and this book certainly did that. It showed with great detail just how bad the situation is with diabetes and the foods we eat, as well as how the treatments are lacking.

While most of the stats were from America, there were several instances that gave a global picture of the increasing number of people world wide who suffer from this. But the book also highlighted that there is a shift of mind set that needs to happen before we (globally) can really tackle the problem, because this isn’t something you can just medicate and expect to go away. You need to make real lifestyle changes, and that’s not always easy.

One thing that really stood out for me was when he said something along the lines of: if you told a cancer patient that all s/he had to do was stick to a certain diet and exercise a certain amount in order to save their lives, they would do it – we know that cancer can kill us. Doctors say the same thing to diabetes or pre-diabetes patients, and they simply don’t/can’t seem to make the changes, even though it could very well save their lives.

It’s as if while we’ve been told that diabetes can kill, because the process can be so slow, we don’t really see it as a threat to our health in the same way that we view cancer. As an exhausted mother who frequently props herself up on sugar, I know just how hard it can be to wean off the wrong foods. Books like this help give me the incentive to change the way I consume.

This is a big book to work through. I’ll confess to skimming through parts of it, but I think there are some interesting points in there. It seems to be well researched, though I find it hard to believe that the medical professionals in America are as behind the eight ball on diabetes as they are shown here – I hope that’s not the case for all Doctors.


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