We are in love with sugar! In 1770, when sugar was only for the wealthy, the average American ate just 4 pounds of sugar a year. In 1800, we were consuming 18 pounds of sugar a year. By 1900 that number had risen to 90 pounds per year, and in 2012, the average American consumed 168 pounds of sugar a year. The sugar consumption continues escalating exponentially. The recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealed that more than half of Americans consume a half pound of sugar daily (that’s shocking 180 pounds of sugar per year!) and an overwhelming 87 percent of U.S. citizens who participated in the five-year, $200 million study, would prefer to ingest a far greater amount (I wonder how we survived the first 200,000 years on the Earth before we invented processed sugar).
Today the average American adult consumes an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar every day (93 gm), the average American child consumes over 32 teaspoons of sugar a day (135 gm), and the average teenage male now consumes more than 42 teaspoons of sugar per day (180 gm). More than half of Americans consume 53 teaspoons of sugar a day (225 gm). For optimal health, adult women should get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar each day (25 gm), while men should stay under 9 teaspoons (38 gm). That means, on average, that American adults and children consume between 68 and 100 grams of sugar a day over the recommended allowance!
Added sugar is the most popular ingredient added to foods in the US and found in the wide variety of sweetened foods on grocery store shelves. It comes in the form of soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, sweets like ice cream, chocolate and candy, baked treats such as cakes, cookies and doughnuts, packaged snacks, cereals, crackers, breads, peanut butter, cured meats, soups, yogurt, sauces, salad dressings, etc, etc, etc. Even condiments have added sugar (one third of ketchup is sugar). Almost all processed foods contain sugar. Ironically, 50 percent of the sugar we consume today comes from “fat-free” foods. Most of that sugar comes from man-made or “refined” sugars, which are from corn sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
The food industry contends that the huge increase in sugar consumption has had no impact on health. Contrary to the food industry’s reassurances, the massive amount of scientific data has shown that the sharp increase in sugar consumption has been fueling an epidemic of overweight and obesity in children, adolescents and adults in the past 20 years. The chronic sugar toxicity is linked to a multitude of health problems, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypoglycemia, GERD, hypertension, ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, dental caries, to name a few.
Sugar is extremely addictive; in fact, sugar is as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Brain scans demonstrate that sugar acts on the same part of the brain as highly addictive drugs such as opiates and amphetamines. Sugar addiction has a series of behaviors similar to the effects of drugs of abuse, including a euphoric effect, strong cravings, increased tolerance, uncontrollable bingeing, profound and severe withdrawal symptoms, and cross-sensitization. Indeed, quitting sugar is more difficult than overcoming an addiction to the street drugs, as sugar is everywhere and in everything.
So what’s a sugar addict to do? When it comes to sugar, out of sight is out of mouth. The golden rule is to never keep sugary product easily accessible, either at home or work, as you will not be willing – nor able – to resist the temptation. Also, remember to always read labels when grocery shopping and avoid all added sugars, including table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, golden sugar, yellow sugar, corn sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, grape sugar, date sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, barley malt, high-fructose corn syrup, sorghum syrup, carob, caramel, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and any item that is called a sweetener or contains the word “sugar.” Finally, learn by your heart: although sugar comforts you as your good friend, it is not the friend – it is your deadly enemy. Sugar is The Sweet Death!