In his New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, Professor Patrick Holford of Teesside University advises readers to “Avoid any form of sugar” . This is a terrible idea – among other problems, fruit contains sugar (fructose) and a fructose-free diet would therefore tend to be horribly unbalanced. With this in mind, Holford’s advice is troubling for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it annoys me that Holford makes such basic mistakes (on occasion, he even advises snacking on fruit – which is sound advice, but not compatible with Holford’s advice to ‘avoid any form of sugar’) . As the newly appointed Visiting Professor of Mental Health and Nutrition at Teesside, this apparent confusion is rather worrying: this is not the type of the mistake that one would expect a professorial level nutritionist to make. If readers are wanting to avoid Holford-esque mistakes, the excellent Junkfood Science blog offers a nice (and accurate) description of what sugar is, and also notes that “all carbohydrates are broken down to the same simple sugars and metabolized exactly the same by our body”.
Secondly, Holford’s New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind offers advice on dealing with eating disorders (see Chapt. 33). With this in mind, the advice to ‘avoid any form of sugar’ is somewhat disturbing: this is, to put it mildly, not good advice for someone with an eating disorder.
Thirdly, part of Teesside’s Case for Patrick Holford as a Visiting Professor [PDF] is that
Cactus has been continuing its work under the directorship of Dr Dave Woodhouse and the clinic manager, Amanda Clarkson. Together they have begun to explore research aspects of the clinic’s work with young people and to use this research to inform expansion of the business. Collaboration with Patrick Holford would greatly enhance these developments by extending the client base for research to include more adults and increase capacity and capability with Cactus both by developing a northern Brain Bio Centre and by access to resources
In other words, Teesside appear to hope to collaborate with Prof. Holford in the establishment of a Northern clinic which will deal with numerous vulnerable children and adults. All I can say is that I hope that patients – especially those with eating disorders – are not advised to ‘avoid any form of sugar’.
1- New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, 2007 Piatkus edition, p. 428
2- Smart Food for Smart Kids, p. 28