While we eat, rarely anyone thinks about the dangers in our food. We tend to put trust in the food industries that provide us with our food; that they wouldn’t cheat or lie to us about the safety of our food. But what if we are wrong to do so? Many new studies and research have shown dangers in factors of our food that we didn’t even know posed a threat. Although people state that something is too sugary or too sweet, we never look at sugar as the cause for our weight-gain or our health problems. Sugar has harmful effects on first world country citizens, such as severe addiction, overeating, obesity, and countless numbers of diseases. To end the deaths and fix the lives of over half the population, healthier diet choices should be enforced.
Citizens of a modern fast-paced city tend to consume a large amount of extra unneeded sugar daily. Men are recommended to consume no more nine teaspoons of sugar per day, and women are recommended six. The average intake of an American citizen in 2014 was more than five times greater than that; over 41 teaspoons of sugar a day. There are multiple reasons for this. Although the numbers seem extremely far apart and over exaggerated, it is actually very easy to surpass the safe amount of sugar. Daily food items that people consider ‘healthy’ are mainly the foods that make it easier for people to overuse sugar.
Added sugar is one of the most occurring sugars in our modern day products. About 80% of the 600,000 different food items in America contain added sugar. Its two most popular forms include sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. In 2008, each person was consuming over an average of 76.7 grams of added sugar per day.
When a food is diet, they reduce the fat content. But in truth, food has no taste once the fat is removed. “[And the] food industry knew that,” stated Dr. Robert Lustig, “So they had to do something to make the food palatable, to make it worth eating. So what did they do? Dumped in the sugar.” Once food is stripped of its fat, sugar then replaces it so it doesn’t taste bland. But once sugar is consumed, it undergoes a process that separates it into two molecules, glucose and fructose. Fructose goes through a process that turns it into fat, therefore cancelling out any effort to reduce weight gain by consuming these products.
Hormones in your stomach called ghrelin send a signal to your hypothalamus in your brain when you are hungry. The more ghrelin are sending signals to your brain, the hungrier you feel. Sugar only has a small effect on the ghrelin, and consuming a certain amount of food with high amounts of sugar will leave you hungrier than if you eat the same amount of a low-in-sugar food item. This makes you eat more than you need, which leads to overeating and obesity.
Another serious issue that sugar causes is addiction. Dopamine is a hormone in our body that was used to encourage actions for survival. But in our society, it is more commonly known as the hormone that helps you feel pleasure. A world without dopamine would leave us without survival skills and without happiness, but when too much dopamine is released, it goes up a level from pleasure to addiction. So in other words, with enough regular consumption of sugar, and the help of dopamine, you are very likely, to get addicted.
With addiction comes tolerance. Once the brain is flooded with dopamine, the brain begins to slowly reduce its dopamine receptors to downregulate, or balance, the amount that it receives. But, this only causes us to eat more of it. Since there are less dopamine receptors, it would take larger doses to satisfy our craving of sugar, which leads to a number of diseases over time.
Both the problem of satiety, or hunger, and addiction together lead to increasing health dangers, such as a popular topic, obesity. Children in a first world country have a 60% increased rate of obesity due to the effects that sugar has on the human body. But obesity is not the only problem sugar has caused. Fructose has many harmful effects on metabolism. It can cause a raise in your triglycerides, causes LDL, and/or abdominal obesity in less than 10 weeks of serious consumption. All of this research was there from the beginning. It got me wondering, if this is known by scientists, how come the government and other officials aren’t doing something about it? Well it turns out that there have been multiple attempts.
After some of these effects were showing, people began rooting for change. The first attempt was the McGovern Report of 1977. This report was called by George McGovern, the Senator of South Dakota at the time. The report was mainly to fix the American diet, which included a recommendation of a 15% reduction in sugar. In fact, the report repeatedly expressed the need to lower our intake of sugar. But all of these new health regulations posed a threat to most food industries. These food industries teamed up and completely rejected the Report, and even demanded a rewrite. This report encouraged the purchase of leaner products, which began the weight gain epidemic. Between 1977 and 2000, the average intake of sugar nearly doubled.
Yes, this means that food industries and even the government knew about the dangers of sugar and many more ingredients even before they became an enormous world-wide issue. So why didn’t they work to fix it?
The answer to that is the same as the reason why they demanded a cancellation and rewrite of the first McGovern Report; their greed. Large food corporations control the advertisement of new research that might interfere with their food products, such as Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola provides funds for many research corporations that find ways to improve our diet. But Coca-Cola is one of those factors that hurt our diet. This causes the researchers to prevent the revealing of the information in order to maintain the funds for their research. There may be much more information that could revolutionize our health and eating habits, but due to the system of which our scientists are forced into, we may never know them.
Even though all of the statistics pointed straight towards sugar, large corporations had to protect their goods. So instead of admitting that their food is a lie and is causing all of these deadly effects, they began the blame game. They aimed their problem at our lack of exercise.
Food companies have come up with 56 different names for sugar to confuse buyers. The ingredients have ‘sugar’ and four other words unknown words. At least one of the four would be another form of sugar. This is another trick they play on us to pretend that the sugar content is low; by splitting up the amount so it is less obvious. And to keep this going, the USDA states to ‘limit your sugar intake’, yet has provided over $8.1 billion in subsidies for corn-based sweeteners since 1995. They really do their best to confuse us into never finding out.
Because the higher authorities seem to be doing nothing about this cause, it is up to us to make a change. Money is what they want. If we choose to buy the products which will actually help our diets, the corporations will have no choice but to sell those products.
Sugar is a harmful ingredient that is underestimated and treated lightly. It causes many harmful diseases and mental health problems, including satiety, addiction, and many sicknesses. Adults and children alike are suffering painful lives, and go about doing what they are told is right, when in reality they are being cheated and treated as a statistic. To fix this problem, one by one, we can begin to raise awareness. As people start to get together and fight against the secrets and lies we have been told about our food, it will further advance the quality of our health and daily lives, for us, and for future generations.