In the past twenty years the obesity rate has soared worldwide — diabetes is now a leading cause of death and much of this can be prevented. The diabetes rate was projected to be 370 million by 2030. In 2012 the rate was 377 million.

So what happened? People today are consuming more than double of the amount of sugar than they were 20 years ago. Added sugar in sodas and fruit drinks is literally pouring on the pounds. Often these fruit drinks are marketed as healthy options and good for you. The label only speaks to one serving and usually there at least two and a half servings per bottle — people forget to multiply the amount by two and a half times and it’s in grams so unless you know what a teaspoon equals to you have no idea how much sugar you are actually taking in.

What are we doing about it? In the US, one lawyer, Don Barrett, is taking on the food industry much the way he took on tobacco and in the case of tobacco he won. The UK Sunday Times edition of May 26 2013 reported that Mr Barrett is going after the food industry for mislabelling foods and encouraging people to choose foods labelled as healthy that in fact are causing harm.

Dr Robert Lustig, a diabetes specialist from California, is addressing the same issues. He asked the same question — Why are people getting so fat and so quickly? The answer according to Dr Lustig is simple —sugar. Added excess sugar in fruit drinks and sodas as well as in many of the processed foods we eat.

Dr Lustig’s extensive research has now provided the evidence that excess sugar is pouring on the pounds and making us sick. He has regularly appeared on 60 Minutes, CNN and other major networks. He has been interviewed by Alec Baldwin who attributes his new svelte appearance to his research.

This is potentially one of the biggest breakthroughs in the fight against obesity that we have ever seen. People are searching for answers to the obesity problem and up until now it has seemingly eluded us that in fact sugar is the villain. Dr Lustig is not talking about natural sugar that is in the fruits we eat and neither is he saying that we cannot consume foods that contain sugar. What he is saying is that adding excess sugar is the problem. So drinking water is best. Use less sugar when baking and instead of eating cereals packed with added sugar try oatmeal. It’s actually what we used to do. So it’s getting back to the basics.

We talk about it all the time but in truth the answer is simple. Cut out added excess sugar and be physically active for 30 minutes a day.

So often we hear, “Well where’s the evidence?” Well now we have it.

Debbie Jones isa diabetes nurse educator at the BHB’s Diabetes Education Centre.