Sugar Consumption and Its Detrimental Effects

Topics: Obesity, Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus Pages: 5 (1704 words) Published: November 2, 2012
This research paper examines the consumption of sugar in the average American diet, and argues that the average amount consumed is excessive. Sugar is detrimental to health, and is the root cause of obesity and a multitude of health issues. Health can be markedly improved by reducing the amount of sugar in the diet.

A big glass of orange juice at breakfast is a healthy way to start the day, right? If it’s pasteurized, store-bought orange juice, any live enzymes are cooked out. What was thought to be super-healthy is basically equivalent to refined white sugar (Katz, 2009). Sugar has snuck into the American diet in so many different forms that the average person isn’t aware of how much is being consumed (Rosen, 2008).

Not just empty calories, sugar has a toxic, detrimental effect on the body. The human body simply isn’t meant to process the amounts of sugar that the average person consumes.

The amount of sugar consumed by Americans has risen dramatically. Americans consume a whopping 152 pounds of sugar per year. That’s 40 pounds more per year than was consumed just 50 years ago (Keiley, 2006). So much emphasis has been placed on the fat content of food, but it is likely the sugar consumption that is causing America’s rapid weight gain.

It’s no coincidence that obesity rates have risen while the nation’s health crumbles. Of the adult population, approximately 68 percent to 72 percent are overweight or obese (Kalman, 2011). The rise in obesity is a global phenomenon, and it threatens life expectancy rates worldwide. For the last hundred years, the average life expectancy has risen, but due to chronic health issues caused by obesity, those longevity gains could soon be reversed. The average life expectancy was 65 in the years 2000-2005 (Byles, 2009).

This crisis of overconsumption effects even very young children, as they are given sugar-sweetened juices and even formulas sweetened with corn syrup. The numbers of obese children have increased “100 percent between 1980 and 1994” (Keiley, 2006). Baby formulas are often sweetened to make the product more palatable. Babies are born with a natural sweet tooth, but sweeteners intensify it (Sears, 2012). This early and unnecessary consumption of sugar sets the stage for a lifetime of addiction to sweets. Various forms of sugar can be identified in the food supply, some more insidious than others. Nearly every processed food contains some type of sugar, whether high fructose corn syrup; sucrose, fructose or glucose. Those foods include pre-packaged dinners, sauces, salad dressings, pastas, breads and many more. High fructose corn syrup (HCFS) is particularly dangerous, because it is not a normal sugar. HCFS is extracted from corn, so most people believe that it must be healthy for the body. However, the way the syrup is extracted from the corn is biochemical. HCFS is the cheapest and most plentiful sweetener available, so it’s the obvious choice for many food manufacturers. The body doesn’t recognize HCFS in the same way as natural sugars, and doesn’t signal the brain that the body has eaten enough. Therefore, it is easier to overeat and overindulge in foods and beverages sweetened with HCFS (Sears, 2012).

The bulk of sugar consumption in the U.S. comes in liquid form from soft drinks, juices and other sugar and HCFS-sweetened drinks. Children become hooked on soft drinks at a very early age – even as infants and toddlers. There has been a huge increase in drinking sodas in just the past 20 years. (Jacobson, 2005). Parents should realize that this is a serious problem, and limit their children’s consumption of sweetened drinks.

Patel and Hampton identify another problem with children not getting enough water to drink in school and daycare settings. When children do drink liquids, they are often opting for beverages with added calories and sugar like milk, soda, sports drinks, coffees and juices. They recommend...
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