The average American eats his or her own weight in sugar every year. This is beyond healthy. Rising sugar consumption has created deadly obesity and type II diabetes epidemics nationwide. Once problems of the elderly, both are now plaguing teens and even preteens. Sugar has been implicated in a dozen other mental and physical health disorders as well. Sweets give two-year-olds tantrums; their parents get anxious and violent. Teens get acne; they’re growing up to high blood pressure and hardened arteries.
Sugar is a stealth toxin. Nobody is sitting around eating sugar straight out of the bowl. It’s hiding in the prepared foods we Americans eat and drink. A single 12 oz. soft drink contains just a little more than your recommended maximum daily sugar intake. The rest of your day’s snacks and meals compound the overdose. It’s not just the donuts and pancake syrup either. Prepared foods are laced with sugar. Manufacturers add a lot of it because it’s inexpensive and noncontroversial. It’s everywhere from condiments to canned goods waiting to ambush you.
There was a time when a normal healthy diet derived 20% of its calories from fats and oils. The sugar industry coveted that 20% market share and went after it aggressively in the 1960’s. They courted Senators and Representatives. Those included Senator George McGovern—a subsequent Democratic candidate for president. His committee badgered medical expert witnesses claiming Congress didn’t need data to reach a conclusion. McGovern’s PhD in American History apparently trumped their medical experience. The government issued dietary standards contrary to the unanimous opinion of the medical community. The standards’ condemnation of fats and oils in the American diet launched the current epidemics of obesity and type II diabetes. Their ongoing health effects have disabled millions of people and killed millions more.
The sugar industry is no stranger to influencing medical reporting. The Sugar Research Foundation funded two Harvard medical scientists. Their reports would add the prestigious Harvard name to a dubious collection of “research” downplaying the role of sugar in cardiac health. They published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their reports denigrated studies connecting sugar consumption with heart disease; they demonized healthy fats and oils as causing cardiac disease. Even before the 1960’s, the sugar industry had dissuaded the American Dental Association from a campaign associating sugar consumption with tooth decay. They even supported a “research” program purporting to show that candy prevented kids’ cavities.
Avoiding hidden sugar isn’t easy. Bottled water is safe. For everything else, read the label. The ingredients are listed in decreasing order of the amount included. If sugar is in the top three, there’s a lot of it in there. Sugar—like all proper villains—goes by a lot of aliases. Watch for glucose, sucrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, and more. They’re all just sugar.
Better yet: avoid prepared foods altogether. Sugar can’t hide in food you cook yourself. Home chefs chose from a selection of healthy alternatives to sugar-laden prepared foods. Cut back on sugar and save desserts for special occasions. You’ll be glad you did.