The drug silently taking over your life: Sugar.
The most popular ingredient added to foods in the United States is sugar. If you were to look at the nutrition labels on your groceries, you would be surprised to find that nearly all contain sugar as an ingredient. This does not only include desserts, but many other foods such as bread, peanut butter, yogurt, pasta sauce, and much more. Although, Americans have not always included this much sugar in our diet. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, over 100 years ago the average American consumed 2 pounds of sugar a year. Today, the average American consumes over 3 pounds of sugar per week. This is equivalent to over 150 grams of sugar per day, yet nutritionists suggest adults consume no more than 24 grams per day.
Why do Americans consume so much sugar?
It is addictive, and in a recent study by Amsterdam’s health services, it was concluded that sugar can be as addictive as alcohol and tobacco and even cause withdraws. These food companies understand this, and as a result include them in all their products.
However, is sugar really that bad for you?
Yes, increased amounts of sugar over a long period of time can result in increased weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, increased risk of cancer, tooth decay, and many others. Weight gain is a common result of high sugar diets and a key role in the drastic rise in obesity throughout America. Generally, foods that contain high amounts of sugar also have more calories than other healthy options. These increased calories result in accelerated weight gain. Excessive amounts of sugar can also cause the body to develop a resistance to leptin. Leptin is a hormone that allows your body to understand when it is full and alerts the body to stop eating.
Take a moment today and look in your kitchen. Glance at the nutrition labels on your groceries. This will help you understand just how much sugar you and your family are consuming.
After reviewing these labels, you will find that some products, such as sodas, can contain nearly 3x the daily recommended sugar intake. A healthier alternative can be as simple as drinking water, which contains no sugar and zero calories. Other healthy substitutes are fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
This article is brought to you by Creating Healthy Communities and the Meigs Health Department. We are dedicated to making Meigs County a happy and healthier place by promoting active living and healthy eating to our community. For more information call us at 740-992-6626 or visit our website at meigs-health.com.
Michael Davis is the Creating Healthy Communities Program Director.