Sugar is a staple of the American diet, practically a fifth food group, but the sweet substance to which we are addicted is adversely affecting our health in a multitude of ways, experts warn- and no one quite seems to agree how the menace of sugar should be handled.
Nowadays, sugar can be found lurking in tons of places it wasn’t just a decade or two ago. Coffee- once taken with one or two packets of sugar- is now a caramel coated, syrup-infused affair.
High fructose corn syrup, a cheaper and more addictive form of sugar, is found in much higher quantities than in the past of ketchup, bread, soda, and a gamut of savory foods that in the past, contained far less or only natural sugar.
Sugar is also known to inflame and worsen conditions, obviously diabetes, obesity and weight-related concerns chief among them.
Initiatives to curb sugar consumption like New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on sodas over 16 ounces have received mixed reactions, but experts are at a loss as to how to address America’s growing problem with excess sugar consumption.
Dr. Devendra Mehta is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Orlando Regional Medical Center, and Mehta- who stopped eating sugar five years ago- tells the Orlando Sentinel:
“The pancreas wasn’t made to handle high doses of unrefined sugars. The strain is manifesting itself as disease. Our ancestors didn’t have a lot of refined foods, and nothing in boxes, and they didn’t have metabolic diseases.”
Dr. Phil Wood, a scientist at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, told the paper that sugar consumption begets sugar consumption, which makes the problem far more difficult to address:
“The more you eat, the more you want. It stimulates cravings and promotes overeating.”
A recent study published in the medical journal Nature blames sugar for 35 million deaths annually worldwide.