Is Our Society Addicted to Sugar?
I am NOT one to sit in judgement on any ones’ issues with sugar. I fight that battle every day, just with different products than the average American. According to a revealing article in the August issue of National Geographic magazine, the average American eats 22.7 teaspoons of sugar per day. You find sugar in people’s diets in obvious sources such as candy and soda, but also in many processed foods such as beef and pork bologna (1.18 tsp), ketchup (3 tbsp, 1.77 tsp), and low fat fruit yogurt (8 oz- 6.16 tsp).
Richard Johnson, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver makes the connection between the rise of sugar, and the rise of a variety of health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. “It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
In 1973, 2% or 4.2 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes. In 2010, 7% or 21.1 million Americans were diagnosed. This issue has an impact on many aspects of society. Studies have shown that children with weight/nutrition issues don’t learn as readily as those with better nutrition. It also impacts the community through economic factors. When people are diagnosed with the afore mentioned diseases, they lose time at work, seek medical attention through private and publicly funded institutions, and it impacts their families and communities. But what makes researchers believe that sugar is the primary villain in this issue? Rich Cohen, the author of the National Geographic article, states that fat makes up a smaller portion of the American diet then 20 years ago, but the statistics pertaining to the number of obese Americans has only risen.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that sugar, specifically high fructose corn syrup, effects the body in regards to overeating because when the study participants drank a beverage high in glucose, a simple sugar that the body uses to provide energy, there was less blood flow to areas of the brain that signal hunger, but not when they drank a drink loaded with fructose , a sugar found naturally in fruit. They concluded that brain knew to stop craving glucose, but didn’t realize the same with fructose!
Johnson stated it best when he said, “Americans are fat because they eat too much and exercise too little because they are addicted to sugar, which not only makes them fatter but, after the initial sugar rush, also saps their energy, beaching them on the couch.”
What are the solutions? Just as with any addiction, there is no quick fix. As with weight loss, if it was easy, everyone would be at their ‘ideal’ weight. As my friend, Dr. Omar Manejwala, former director of the Hazelton Recovery Center, and author of the book Craving describes……………….
Try to eat less processed foods where sugar is used to extend shelf life. Stop drinking soda and drink green tea or fruit infused water instead. Remove temptation in your home and at work by taking out any candy bowls, tubs of ice cream or other sugary treat that you may turn to when you feel stressed or tired.
Stay active and make a regular workout plan. Ask your family and friends for their assistance to keep you on track or participate with you.
Understand that reducing the amount of sugar you eat is a process. Stay true to your task, but understand that lots of small baby-steps are easier to stick with it than some strict, militaristic attitude. It’s about a change in ‘lifestyle’ not just a d-i-e-t.