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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 28 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: He warned that sugar was bad for us - so why did nobody listen?

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. The sugar conspiracy

shutterstock_403472980 Source: Shutterstock/graletta

Back in 1972, John Yudkin, a British professor nutrition, wrote a book about sugar, called Pure, White and Deadly. So why were his warnings about sugar ignored?

(The Guardian, approx 36 mins reading time)

We tend to think of heretics as contrarians, individuals with a compulsion to flout conventional wisdom. But sometimes a heretic is simply a mainstream thinker who stays facing the same way while everyone around him turns 180 degrees. When, in 1957, John Yudkin first floated his hypothesis that sugar was a hazard to public health, it was taken seriously, as was its proponent. By the time Yudkin retired, 14 years later, both theory and author had been marginalised and derided. Only now is Yudkin’s work being returned, posthumously, to the scientific mainstream.

2. Why Game of Thrones is so addictive

67th Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room Peter Dinklage Source: AP/Press Association Images

We’ve all been there – watching a series for hours, glued to the couch during episode after episode. Game of Thrones is particularly popular for binge-watching, and this articles delves into exactly why one man became obsessed with it.

(New Yorker, approx 25 mins reading time)

I can swear on a stack of Faith of the Seven sacred texts that it wasn’t the sex scenes that kept me tuned in. In my decrepit condition, I didn’t find their number and nature anything to be horrified about, but they were nothing to be excited about, either. The “Game of Thrones” revue-bar circuit has perhaps too many bare breasts and certainly too many Brazilian wax jobs, but there are no penises in sight: an indication that primitive times, like ancient times, adhere to Hollywood rules even when the starting gun fires for an all-out orgy.

3. How Boots pharmacy went rogue

Woolworths closures Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Boots used to be a family business – now it’s Britain’s biggest pharmacy. It’s also popular here in Ireland. But Aditya Chakrabortty writes about how some of its staff fear its drive for profit “is putting the public at risk”.

(The Guardian, approx 33 mins reading time)

The illness kicked in shortly after he began his latest job, in 2011. Tony is sure that that was the cause – sure that he is sick because of his employer, and what it is asking him to do. The cuts to staffing that have made him feel unable to serve patients properly, the business targets that he is expected to meet, the pressure to behave like a salesman as much as a medical professional – and he believes managers treat him as a disruptive threat for questioning these practices.

4. Living the good life

the good life Source: YouTube

Back in the 1970s, there was a drive towards self-sufficiency. But while some families found the move worked for them, others found their lives irreparably changed. This article asks people what went right – and wrong.

(BBC, approx 10 mins reading time)

“One woman turned up who had left her husband and children after reading the book. She wanted to help out and live in our stable. My parents let her but later my mother persuaded her to go back and sort herself out,” Anne says. During the 60s and 70s dozens of alternative communities sprang up around Britain. However, many who tried self-sufficiency found the labour-intensive way of life too tough.

 5. Rappers and hip-hop

shutterstock_404785288 Source: Shutterstock/Christian Bertrand

Is it possible to explore mental health in hip-hop? Is there a level of machismo that can stand in the way, or are artists able to find their way around tackling darker subjects? This article asks the artists themselves.

(Vice, approx mins reading time)

Although some of the most transcendent rap openly embraces the blues, sometimes depression and hip-hop can seem at odds. A big part of this divide comes from the fact that hip-hop is a genre that’s competitive and fueled by machismo. Combined with the brutal capitalism of the music business, hip-hop can be an environment where clinical depression or other mental health issues are brushed off as weaknesses. And you can’t have any weaknesses when you’re calling yourself a boss or a don.

6. The woman who can’t remember her past – or imagine her future

shutterstock_404082793 Source: Shutterstock/P-fotography

Susie McKinnon lives perpetually in the present. She has severely deficient autobiographical memory, meaning though she knows facts about her life, she can’t actually relive any of it in her mind.

(Wired, approx 21 mins reading time)

McKinnon first began to realize that her memory was not the same as everyone else’s back in 1977, when a friend from high school, who was studying to be a physician’s assistant, asked if she would participate in a memory test as part of a school assignment. When her friend asked basic questions about her childhood as part of the test, McKinnon would reply, “Why are you asking stuff like this? No one remembers that!” She knew that other people claimed to have detailed memories, but she always thought they embellished and made stuff up—just like she did.


If you like to buy cheap clothes regularly, you might want to take a read of this. A look at the true cost of ‘fast fashion’, it lays bare how a €5 top has a big cost for some people.

(Independent, approx 18 mins reading time)

“Many factories don’t even comply with the minimum wage,” Alam continues. “Bangladesh is the cheapest place in the world to make clothes. All the brands, in England and overseas, have codes of conduct, and there’s not much wrong with them on paper but, in practice, who cares? These brands must take responsibility for what’s going on. They should have a legal obligation to their workers. Profit is the driving force and Western countries have a big role to play.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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