Sugar: Should We Be Worried
Sugar has become a deadly substance, but many remain unaware and it’s slowly but surely causing health complications to many people. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems have become a common occurrence in society, and it can all be traced back to sugar. With the intentional malfeasance of the food industry contributing to this mess and our government continuing to support their actions, many people remain unaware of the dangers of sugar and its damaging health effects. Public schools are filled with sugary products and many students are starting to show signs of obesity well before they become adults. The sugar industry knows the addictive effects of sugar and is using its addictive nature to sell more of their products. Learning how to truly eat healthy and exposing the ways the food industry has lied to the public is an important first step. But now more than ever there is a need for strict government reform and regulation of the food and sugar industries to prevent them from making massive profits from the endangerment of our health.
Sugar is a stimulant and once you have a large enough intake it hijacks your brain and creates an addiction. There is a dire need for new regulation in order to control the food industry, because they are making large profits at the expense of the health of America. The food industry is aware of the ill effects of sugar and has used gross amounts of it in processed foods for the sole purpose of maximum profits. Princeton researchers who fed rats sugar water discovered that they ended up binging on it. When the rats were deprived, their feel-good brain chemical dopamine dropped, and they suffered from anxiety and the shakes (Richards Online). The effects of dopamine are scientifically proven to create addiction leaving people to prefer sugary products over traditional home cooked meals based purely on the physical urge. The harmful reactions continue, sugar desensitizes the taste buds leading to overconsumption. Famous British dietitian, Carole Bartolotto, asked 20 people from Kaiser Permanente’s California facilities to cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for two weeks. As a result, their tolerance for that sweet taste completely changed. A whopping 95 percent of subjects reported that the foods and drinks they used to consume now tasted “sweeter” (Richards Online). The more sugar in the package the better the taste, knowing this the food industry consistently increases the quantity of sugar in their products to generate larger sales. But the most telling sign of the absolute lack of care the food industry has for the consumer is how much they are saving by adding sugar to their products. Farm subsidies, have widened the price gap between the cost of production of added sweeteners and vegetable oils as compared to that for dairy products, meat, and fresh produce. According to some sources, the cost to produce 1 lb of refined sugar can be as low as 4 cents (Drewnowski Online). The major food industry only chooses the cheapest ingredients in their foods rather than packaging products that have nutritional value they are dumping in sugar with only maximum profits in mind. When cars are imported into a country there are certain quality control measures that need to be followed such as the standard and quality of the materials used in the car. But when it comes to what is going into the dinner plate, there is a lack of measures in place to prevent food companies from using sugar a cheap and dangerous additive in manufactured foods.
The next telling sign of the absolute need for regulation on the food industry is the active suppression and discretization of scientific research on the effects of sugar on the human body. Scientists and doctors consistently point to sugar as the leading culprit to the health epidemic in America. Richard Johnson, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver tells many of his patients, “It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar” (Cohen 7). The clear majority of doctors and scientists agree with Johnson’s thesis but still this news is not widespread and most Americans don’t know any of the harmful effects of sugar. The reasons for this can be attributed to the silencing of information lead by the food industry. In 2015, the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola’s cozy relationships with sponsored researchers who were conducting studies aimed at minimizing the effects of sugary drinks on obesity (Domonoske Online). There is only one reason Coca-Cola would sponsor research into sugar and would be to put their product in favorable view to the public through flawed scientific research. But it doesn’t stop just there, ever since the 1960s the sugar and food industry has been aggressively trying to trick the public into believing that fat is the reason for the obesity epidemic and not sugar. The president of the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) gave a speech in 1954 in which their agenda was laid out, “If Americans could be persuaded to eat a lower-fat diet — for the sake of their health — they would need to replace that fat with something else. America’s per capita sugar consumption could go up by a third” (Domonoske Online). This thesis was proven correct and the food industry followed through flawlessly with their plans of convincing the public that fat is the boogie man and everything else that they put in their products is perfectly fine. But the health problems continued and sugar intake skyrocketed leading to the mass health issues of todays’ obesity crisis. According to the C.D.C. more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity (C.D.C. Online). There is no mystery to why this occurred and many are starting to question if low fat sugary foods are as healthy as advertised. Through scientific research that was highly publicized and the suppression of any research involving sugar, the food industry got everyone counting their calories while ignoring their sugar intake. Even today the notion that fat causes more harm to your health than other things like sugar is deeply engrained in everyone’s mind and it proves difficult to change the narrative. Therefore, their needs to be oversight of the sugar industry by the government because allowing the sugar industry to continue to lie and deceive the consumer through scientific research will only lead to more health issues for the average consumer in the future.
But the biggest injustice committed by the food industry showing use the lack of care it had was using the government to infiltrate the K-12 lunch program in America using sugar. Everything has regulations when it comes to school lunches, there is a minimum and maximum cap when it comes to servings for grains, fruits, meats, but there is not a single regulation or limit when it comes to sugar. The open playing field left by the government has allowed the food industry to fill school lunches with fat free excessively sugary foods. Recent research shows that sugar levels in school meals are more than double what is recommended for the general public. Elementary school lunch menus contain 115 percent of the recommended daily calories from added sugars (Su Online). When it comes to governmental regulation regarding the nutritional value of school lunches, children across the country are eating dangerous amounts of sugar through the school lunch program. The government is allowing this because of the excessive lobbying done by the food industry that is causing illness to kids across the nation. In 2014 after aggressive lobbying done by the food industry, congress declared pizza a vegetable to protect it from a nutritional overhaul of the school lunch program (Wilson Online). Sugary pizza products were officially named a fruit going against the definition of a fruit and having botanists across the world confused. That is just one basic example of the power the food industry has over school lunches but the effect it has had over the years is even more terrifying. According to a study conducted with over 1,000 school children in Michigan, students who regularly ate school lunches were 29% more likely to be obese compared to those kids who brought their lunches from home (Axe Online). This staggering statistic proves just how hazardous the food being served to kid is, meanwhile the government and our representatives are not taking any steps to stop these loopholes and fix our broken school lunch system. Without any strict government ban or regulation on high sugar level foods in the cafeteria this will become an endless cycle of hospital room visits with doctors telling parents about their children’s high risk of diabetes. There needs to be a mass movement using government action to prevent and stop these lobbyist from putting through any more laws and regulations that will hurt the youth of this country.
It’s no secret that sugar is a dangerous substance in high quantities and now more than ever there is a need for regulation and oversight of the food industry for the betterment society. The food industry has truly picked profits over people and have blatantly disregarded the deadly toll sugary products have had over the lives of many. Through the food industry’s knowledge of the addictive nature of sugar and their calculated actions of suppressing scientific evidence pointing to its ill effects on the human body, the food industry has showed its true colors. Even worse through lobbying and buying of elected officials the food industry was able infiltrate the school lunch system and put in the worst types of sugary junk food on the plates of kids throughout the country. Together we need to take steps to stop the food industry in its tracks by supporting stronger dietary guidelines and joining local sugar tax campaigns we can turn the tide and defeat the obesity crises.
Axe, Josh, Dr. “Childhood Obesity and School Lunches.” Dr. Axe. Affiliate Disclosure, 05 Feb. 2015. Web. 15 May 2017.
C.D.C. “Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01 Sept. 2016. Web. 13 May 2017.
Cohen, Rich. Sugar. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
Domonoske, Camila. “50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat.” NPR. NPR, 13 Sept. 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
Drewnowski, Adam. “Food Choices and Diet Costs: An Economic Analysis.” The Journal of Nutrition. N.p., 01 Apr. 2005. Web. 09 May 2017.
Richards, By Sarah Elizabeth. “Are You Addicted to Sugar? Here’s How to Break the Cycle.” Life by Daily Burn. N.p., 15 July 2016. Web. 08 May 2017.
Su, Eleanor Yang. “School Meals Face Rules on Fat, Meat, Veggies — but No Limits on Sugar.” The Center for Investigative Reporting, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 May 2017.
Wilson, Duff, and Janet Roberts. “Special Report: How Washington Went Soft on Childhood Obesity.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 15 May 2017.