A lot of people equate obesity with sugar: candy, ice cream, pastries and the like. If you're fat, the thinking goes, surely it's because you eat a lot of sugary desserts. Those a little more versed in nutrition often warn against eating too much starchy food (potatoes, rice, cereal) because your body changes starches into sugar -- and eating sugar piles on the pounds. However, this is not true. If it was, people who ate a lot of rice (say, the Japanese) or pasta (the Italians) would be among the world's fattest people. But guess what? They're some of the slimmest [source: The McDougall Newsletter].
Here's the thing. If you eat a lot of sugary foods, like cake and cookies, and drink sugary sodas and juice, you will gain weight. But that's because you're ingesting a lot of calories, period, not because sugar is inherently fattening. If your overall calorie count is within a healthy range, eating sugar is not going to create love handles or a jelly belly [source: The New York Times].