Pure white and deadly

27-May 2014, by Julia Llewellyn Smith, The Daily Telegraph

Sugar is poisonA couple of years ago, an out-of-print book published in 1972 by a long-dead British professor suddenly became a collector’s item. Copies that had been lying dusty on bookshelves were selling for hundreds of pounds, while copies were also being pirated online.

Alongside such rarities as Madonna’s Sex, Stephen King’s Rage (written as Richard Bachman) and Promise Me Tomorrow by Nora Roberts; Pure White and Deadly by John Yudkin, a book widely derided at the time of publication, was listed as one of the most coveted out-of-print works in the world.

How exactly did a long-forgotten book suddenly become so prized? The cause was a ground-breaking lecture called Sugar: the Bitter Truth by Robert Lustig, professor of paediatric endocrinology at the University of California, in which Lustig hailed Yudkin’s work as “prophetic”.

“Without even knowing it, I was a Yudkin acolyte,” says Lustig, who tracked down the book after a tip from a colleague via an interlibrary loan. “Everything this man said in 1972 was the God’s honest truth and if you want to read a true prophecy you find this book… I’m telling you every single thing this guy said has come to pass. I’m in awe.”

Posted on YouTube in 2009, Lustig’s 90-minute talk has received 4.1 million hits and is credited with kick-starting the anti-sugar movement, a campaign that calls for sugar to be treated as a toxin, like alcohol and tobacco, and for sugar-laden foods to be taxed, labelled with health warnings and banned for anyone under 18.

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