There is a white powdery substance that has become increasingly abundant and available in today’s society. It can be found in every house and in every food store, and can be purchased by anyone who chooses to do so. This substance seems innocuous and appears beneficial at times. In actuality, this substance can wreak havoc upon the physical and mental well-being of its unsuspecting victims.
When we look at the effects of this substance, it has many of the same properties as some of the most highly addictive, lethal, and illegal substances that are known to exist in American society. It’s no coincidence that this substance comes in the form of a white fluffy powder, similarly to heroin and cocaine. When ingested, the substance in question causes increased energy, a racing heartbeat, fast thoughts, and improved concentration. The effects have been described by many as a ‘rush’.
Just like all substances that cause these physical and mental reactions, there is invariably a post ‘rush’ reaction where the exact opposite effects occur. This has been termed by many as a ‘crash’. During the ‘crash’ phase, mental acuity slows, mood becomes irritable, and energy levels significantly decrease. The afflicted person usually seeks to counter these untoward effects by ingesting more of the seemingly harmless substance in order to return to the ‘rush’ state.
This description brings thoughts of illicit substances, but in fact the substance that I am describing is Sugar. Sugar, also termed sucrose or table sugar, has unknowingly invaded the American society as well as the societies of many throughout the world. The effects that I have described are the acute changes that occur in the human body. The chronic changes that occur can be equally as detrimental to physical and mental health and include increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer.
If we look at the consumption of sugar over time in the United States, we can see that there has been a steady increase over time. This steady increase most likely can be attributed to the advent of an agricultural and industrial method to produce large amount of cheap sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. The steady increase in the consumption of sugar has correlated with the onset and growth of the current worldwide obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics.
The following infographic depicts how dysfunctional America’s relationship with sugar has become. The average American consumes about 130 pounds of sugar per year. In 1822, the average American consumed the amount of sugar in one can of soda every 5 days. In 2012, the average American consumes the amount of sugar in seventeen cans of soda every 5 days. For a person in today’s society, that would be 3,550 pounds of sugar consumed during their entire lifetime. The items that contribute the most to our consumption of sugar are sugar sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and sodas, followed by candy. In the American diet, added sugar accounts for almost 500 additional calories per day, which is equivalent to 10 strips of bacon.
Research with brain imaging studies has shown that sugar acts upon the brain in the same physiological way as highly addictive substances by stimulating the reward center.
And thus… we have America’s sugar addiction run amok.
We have previously discussed the addictive and toxic nature of sugar, and how it should be regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco.
Is it a surprise that we are facing a growing obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic in the United States and throughout the world?