Brow Beat

Watch John Oliver Take on the Sugar Industry Just in Time for Halloween  

Less than a week before America’s children (and some adults) collectively binge on Halloween candy, John Oliver used his platform on Last Week Tonight to marvel at our country’s sugar consumption and the politics behind it. Researchers estimate that the average American consumes 75 pounds of added sugar annually, Oliver reports—“that’s like eating Michael Cera’s weight in sugar every single year.”

Oliver could have gone the glib route of mocking American consumers for their eating habits, but instead he criticizes the obfuscation of food industry representatives, who insist, against all evidence, that sugar does not cause obesity and diabetes. “Asking what causes obesity is a bit like asking who killed a first-grade class’s hamster,” says Oliver. “Sure, they all killed it in a way, but I think we all know one of them killed it the most.”

Some of Oliver’s points about added sugars are slightly muddled—for instance, he calls out Clamato juice (that would be a portmanteau of clam and tomato, if you’re unfamiliar) as having 11 grams of sugar per serving, but at least part of those 11 grams is naturally occurring sugar from tomato concentrate. (Sugar from tomato concentrate is not healthier, necessarily, but it’s not added sugar.)

But the gist of Oliver’s argument is spot on, and he’s at his entertaining best when he’s colorfully insulting the flavor of various foods: Necco Wafers are “coagulated dust,” cranberries “taste like cherries who hate you,” and Circus Peanuts—well, I won’t spoil Oliver’s bawdy description of Circus Peanuts. Just watch.