Sugar Craving

Sugar addiction leads to over-consumption of soda

About 6 teaspoons of sugar in each bottle

“Everyone has a price – mine is chocolate”    (Unknown author)

Sugar Addiction – Why It´s Bad For You

Effects of Sugar On Health

Sugar addiction starts in a sugar mill

Sugar mill – feeds obesity crisis

Sugar addiction has become an international problem and its effects on health are being felt everywhere.

So, what is sugar?

Sugar is made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  All sugars are carbohydrates, as are all foods that break down into sugars. This includes normal table sugar, glucose (often in sports drinks), fructose (found naturally in fruit), lactose (in milk and yogurt), maltose (often used to flavour cereals). It also includes all kinds of starches, such as potatoes, pasta and legumes like peas or lentils. Food with any carbs at all will contain some sugar, even  potatoes, whole grains or lentils.

Types of Sugar

There are various kinds of sugar and the body processes them all differently.

So-called “simple carbs”, like refined white flour and table sugar, contain single or double sugars, while  double sugars are a combination of two single sugars. The body uses simple carbs for immediate energy and eating a lot of these quickly can result in what is known as a “sugar rush”.  Whole grains and legumes are called “complex carbs”, or starches,  because they´re made of three or more sugars and the body has to break them down into simple carbs first. This breaking down takes time, so there is not the immediate sugar rush you can get with simple sugars.

It is mainly the (possibly) very unhealthy simple sugars that are suspected of having a lot to do with the overweight/obesity crisis and it is these that people should seek to drastically reduce in their diets. Whether they are quite as overwhelmingly bad as some doctors suggest is doubtful.

Why Sugar is Bad For You

Sugar addiction is dangerous for healthIt is just possible to argue that sugar is not a major contributor to serious illness and early death in most advanced countries and, increasingly, in the third world too. As more and more direct and indirect evidence accumulates, though,  this argument is getting harder to sustain. This is so despite the various apparent anomalies, such as countries which appear to have decreased sugar consumption over several decades, yet continue to have rising overweight and obesity problems.

The arguments, though, are mostly over the exact degree to which sugar may be lethal for humans, as most experts do agree that excess sugar intake does cause weight gain and that it has no off-setting nutritional benefits.

Sugar is generally considered guilty of increasing the chances of getting the following illnesses, as a consequence of being overweight or obese:

  • type-2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • metabolic syndrome
  • fatty liver disease
  • certain cancers

(Oh yes  –  and tooth decay!)

Sugar Addiction Starts Early

Sugar addiction often starts at early age

Early start to sugar addiction. Maybe obesity later?

Anyone who has ever tried to eliminate sugar from their diet, or even just to cut down, knows that it is highly addictive. The head of Amsterdam´s health service was quoted in newspaper reports as calling for tight regulation of sugar, on the grounds that, like tobacco and alcohol, it is a highly addictive drug. A French study some time ago discovered that when rats that had been addicted to cocaine were given the choice between sugar and cocaine, they chose sugar. It is also difficult to give up because it is used in so many processed foods. (Ironically this is as a consequence of sugar being added to manufactured foods in the past, when it was thought that it was fat that made people fat. Take the fat out of processed foods and they taste like cardboard. Unless you add sugar into the recipe.)

Effects of Obesity

The British National Health Organisation have quoted a report by Prof. Stephenson for the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges which gave the following statistics:

Compared with a healthy weight man, an obese man is:

  • 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes
  • 3 times more likely to develop cancer of the colon
  • over two and a half times more likely to have high blood pressure

Compared with a healthy weight woman, an obese woman is:

  • nearly 13 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes
  • over 4 times more likely to develop high blood pressure
  • more than 3 times more likely to have a heart attack

(Courtesy of: UK National Health Service)

Further consequences of being overweight or obese can include various psychological and social problems, such as depression, prejudice and stigma, stress, low self-esteem, and bullying. Additionally, sugar is highly addictive.

When you look at what sugar can do to the human body, if consumed in excess, it seems stupid to argue over the exact meaning of the evidence or the precise extent to which it is bad for you. Sugar can kill you  –  and there are few experts who would dispute this. Why take a chance on something which at best does you no good at all?

High-Sugar Foods

Sugar content in foods is often illustrated (bizarrely) in terms of teaspoons, or sugar cubes. The following website has some excellent ways of depicting the often startling sugar content in a range of foods – here

“Added sugars“, which are sugars put into foods by human beings, rather than being found there naturally, are of most concern.  Foods known by most people to be generally laden with added sugar include:

soft drinks, particularly colas   –   most fruit juices   –   candy/sweets   –   cakes, biscuits/cookies, pies   –   dairy product desserts, including ice-cream, flavoured yogurt and milk

Thus, a typical can of soft drink is likely to contain the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar, a Mars bar about 9 teaspoons and a single scoop of ice.cream about 3 teaspoons.  A medium slice of fruit cake about 5 teaspoons and a tall Starbucks caramel frappuccino with whipped cream has about an astounding 11 teaspoons.

The amount of sugar in some savoury foods is also surprising.  Examples of this include: baked beans, with about 3 teaspoons in a typical can and about 4 teaspoons in a typical 300 gm can of tomato soup. A pasta sauce will probably have about 3 teaspoons in a typical serving. Most foods that have been manufactured will have some sugar added. This is due to the fact that when food manufacturers had to cut the fat in their products many years ago, in response to the fat scare at the time which has turned out to be unfounded, they added sugar and salt to avoid their products tasting of cardboard. They must sometimes feel as though they can´t win!

Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks often contain a lot of sugar.

These are the calories in some popular alcoholic drinks – here.

Images courtesy of:

Sugar: a Dangerous Drug   –   Environmental Illness Network

“Maybe it was a Sugar High or Maybe He had Too Much”   –   Steve Baker                           Other images   –   Pixabay