Did you know that there is added sugar in 80% of the foods that are sold in America today? Not only found in desserts and sweets, sugar can also be found in almost every processed and packaged food that you can think of, from hot dogs to pasta sauce to salad dressing to fruit juice to cereal to granola bars –you name it.
If the item comes in a package, you better believe it has some form of added sugar. It also hides behind an array of misleading nicknames such as: Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Galactose, Lactose, Glucose Solids, Glucose/Fructose, Fruit Juice Concentrate and the increasingly popular and cause for concern: High Fructose Corn Syrup. It doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s still sugar, the leading cause of obesity in the United States today. (1)
The Obesity Epidemic
Obesity rates have skyrocketed over the past 30 years, but particularly in the last 20. (2) This has led to over 120,000 preventable deaths each year in the United States alone. This is especially mind-boggling when you consider the McGovern Report, which was released in 1977 that outlined healthy, dietary goals for the country. (3) How did Americans end up gaining more weight than ever before since this report came out?
This becomes even more confusing when you take into account that after this report came out there was a countrywide incentive to offer a wider selection of “low fat” and even “fat free” products. It turns out that as the processed food manufacturers took out the fat, they began to add sugar as a replacement. A lot of sugar. Too much sugar. When too much sugar is consumed, more than the body needs as fuel, (which is almost always the case when dealing with processed food and beverages) it is converted into stored body fat by a process known as lipogenesis.
Type II Diabetes
The American Heart Association recommends that the daily intake of sugar be no more than 100 calories a day (about 6 teaspoons) for women and 150 calories a day (about 9 teaspoons) for men. (4) By this recommendation, a single can of soda will put you over the maximum amount of sugar for the day. Then you think back to all of those food items that contain added sugars that the majority of North Americans are eating on a regular basis, and all of the sudden the diabetes epidemic makes a lot more sense.
29 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes, that is 1 out of every 3 Americans that are likely to develop diabetes in the near future. (5) Keep in mind that these are only the known cases; many people have no idea that they have diabetes or pre-diabetes. What’s worse is that many children are beginning to show symptoms of type II diabetes at an alarming rate, this is shocking because this disease used to be diagnosed to adults only, hence the former name, Adult-Onset Diabetes. 50 years ago children having type II diabetes was unheard of. No one knows the long-term effects that type II diabetes will have if diagnosed from childhood.
Is It Fair To Market Sugar Directly To Children?
Sugar-filled food items are being marketed directly towards children. 60 years ago you would see Fred Flintstone in an advertisement for Winston cigarettes, and today you’ll see him in an advertisement for Fruity Pebbles, a colorful, sugary cereal that is marketed specifically to children. Much like with cigarettes there have been a number of different studies conducted that prove that added sugar (in all of its forms) is highly addictive. There have been numerous studies done that prove that sugar is as addictive or more addictive than drugs such as cocaine and even heroin. In this particular study cocaine addicted rats were fed Oreo cookies and ended up choosing the Oreos over the cocaine! They preferred the sweet cookies to the highly addictive drug. Considering the devastating effects of sugar, over consumption and it’s addictive qualities, what exactly differentiates sugar from a drug?
Now that the truth is starting to come out about the direct relationship between sugar-laden processed foods and diabetes, as well as the obesity epidemic, it’s time that we all began to regulate their consumption, and specifically stop marketing these items to children. Marketing these foods to children is like filling up a room with alcohol and telling the alcoholic not to drink, or giving a heroin addict a bag of heroin. You can’t blame the child for choosing the sweet snack over the piece of fruit. You also can’t blame the adult who thinks they are making healthy choices for their families by choosing low or no fat options.
What Can We Do?
The best thing that we can all do to cut this ingredient from our diets is to make and prepare the foods that we are feeding to our families and ourselves at home using real, wholesome ingredients.
Get informed, and spread the word. Did you know that on ”nutrition” labels on all processed and packaged foods in the United States and Canada you will see the amount of sugar, but not the percentage of daily value?
Perhaps if this were listed on a can of soda as 120% of daily value, more parents would think twice before giving it to their child, or even consuming it themselves. Actually there should be a warning label on all foods with added sugars that state that overconsumption can lead to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and death. Sugar is the tobacco of the 21st Century.
This article was based around the Sundance Film Festival accepted documentary film “Fed Up.” To learn more about this extremely important issue, please check out this trailer and share it with your friends and family. Knowledge is power.