The consumption of sugar has increased phenomenally over the last 200 years. In 1809 the average person consumed about 8 kilos of sugar per year. That number has now increased to around 27 kilos of sugar a year.
This year UK supermarkets have come under a lot of scrutiny over the lack of labeling on meat products, with many later coming forward after investigations, declaring horsemeat in many pre packaged foods. What we don’t often consider or worry about is the amount of sugar, clearly labeled, found in sweet, savoury and other packaged products on supermarket shelves. You will be hard pushed to find any packaged product on a supermarket shelf that does not contain sugar in one of its guises, (sugar has many, many different names and forms). This surprising fact was highlighted to me many years ago when, suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, I needed to eat products totally free from sugar so as to not have an energy slump. I literally could not find one product ingredient label without sugar. Of course these days my eating habits are so vastly different that I rarely eat foods with ingredients labels, as 95% of what I eat is fresh.
As I often say to clients if they are trying to reduce their sugar consumption, it is not the odd teaspoon of sugar in tea that is doing most of the damage in modern westernized diets, but the hidden sugars in packaged foods that we don’t even think about. In fact the consumption of bags of sugar has actually fallen. Food manufacturers are very aware of the chemical reaction our bodies have after consuming sugar and know that high levels of sugar, fat and salt will send us into a blissed out state and leave us always wanting more.
The acceptability of giving children sugary treats everyday, instead of just on special occasions, is indicative of our modern way of life in not waiting for gratification and feeling we have the right to live the aspirational lifestyle that is constantly fed to us through media messages in all aspects of our lives, be it material goods or food. The celebrity filled culture of modern day living leaves many feeling that anything is obtainable regardless of price or its association with being an occasional treat, and the credit world we live in of buy now pay later is also one relationship we have with our food and diet. The price of eating this way now has become so high that cancer and heart disease, the 2 biggest killers are at their highest rates in history. That and the obesity epidemic sets the scene for this generation’s life expectancy to be shorter than that of their parents.
From 1980 to 2008 global obesity levels doubled with 1.4 billion adults being overweight or obese. The UK is amongst the worst with over 65% of men now being obese or overweight and nearly the same number for women. In 2011, a survey revealed that parents found the topic of weight and not drugs or sex, the most difficult to discuss with their children. A UK opinion poll also found that out of 1,000 parents of children aged 4 to 7, only 14% of parents with an obese child considered them to be overweight. In a quite literally expanding population we are becoming less aware of what overweight looks like as overweight people surround us.
We are killing our children with diet related ill health. We absolutely know that it is sugar and not fat that has created the modern day obesity epidemic as the entire westernized population has been on a low fat diet since the 1970’s and its clearly not working (as the food manufacturers replaced the fat with sugar). To put the obesity problem in perspective Professor Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist at the University of California, points out that there are 30% more obese people in the world than undernourished people. This is a shocking statistic.
It is clear that both tobacco and alcohol are addictive substances so some regulation is needed accordingly. The difficulty here is that although sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever it is still a food. Food is supposed to make us healthy. We accept that both smoking and alcohol damage our health and yet we have not yet made that link with sugar.
Sugar behaves like a drug in our bodies. The more we have the more we want, which means more profits for the food manufacturers. Of course sugar is a great way to cover up the taste of poor quality food, which is why it is found in such high quantities in many processed foods (along with salt). Sugar not only rots your teeth and makes you fat but also creates a whole host of other problems within the body including:
• disrupting the metabolism
• leaching important minerals out of the body
• disrupting hormone function, e.g. insulin resistance
• raising blood pressure
• promoting cancer growth
My family have been sugar free at home for 9 years. It can be done with a set of good recipes and an understanding of the healthy alternatives available. Make a commitment to your health and your family’s health today to reduce or eliminate sugar in your diet.Be sure to ‘like’ my Facebook page for sugar free yummy recipes. I can also be booked for helping with a sugar free menu or a workshop. I am talking about this subject and sharing sugar free recipes on Monday 9th December at the monthly Arnica Group meeting:
10am - 12 noon 365 Ditchling Rd – Brighton
Ideas for a 'sugar-free' Christmas and keeping the immune system healthy in the winter.
How to work with me:
If you found this article interesting and informative then please share with your friends and family. Signing up for my fortnightly blog can be done here:
Photo courtesy of Free Stock Images - Kornilovdream