It was reported in the JAMA Internal Medical journal on September 12th that the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to publish a study that blames coronary heart disease on fat and cholesterol in order to move the discussion away from the concerns of sugar on our health. Early warning signs of heart disease caused by sugar started to emerge in the 1950s. This corrupt study began the low-fat food movement. This low-fat trend has since caused an enormous increase of carbohydrate consumption and has made the obesity epidemic in this country worse due to all the hidden added sugars found in the food we eat and drink every day.
The attachment to sugar started after the Civil War when the consumption of sugar per capita almost doubled. In 1880 according to David Singerman’s article in the New York Times, sugar was more than 15% the federal budget. In order to protect sugar refiners in the United States (from competition in the Caribbean), tariffs were established on sugar imports but those importing refined sugar paid and much higher rate than raw sugar. The powerful refiners lobbied the government to start using chemical processes that would help them measure the sucrose level of the sugar coming into the states in order to ensure that the understanding of raw versus refined was more scientific and less subjective. The higher the sucrose, the more refined the sugar. This scientific approach enabled the sugar industry to change the data to their advantage without anyone really knowing (such as bribing a chemist to change the results in their favor). They also launched a campaign to further discourage Americans from eating raw sugar claiming that it had bugs in it and caused “grocers itch” if touched! The powerful refiners, with an agenda to maximize their profits and protect their market share, somehow convinced the public that consuming more sugar was actually considered healthy.
Last year, an article in the New York Times discussed how Coca Cola is provided millions to conduct a “science” based study to disprove that sugar drinks do not cause obesity and have not been to blame for our diabetes epidemic. Dr. Kevin Strong (a high school classmate of mine) and a pediatrician in Maine is working tirelessly to show kids how bad sugar (in soda and junk food) is on their body, teeth and overall health. He started an amazing organization called Dunk the Junk. He’s teaching the dangers of sugar through the help of talented street artists and hip hop singers and it’s really working. Watch his fascinating talk at Festival21 in Australia.
Sugar is like a drug- it gives you a high and then you drop and in order get the high again- you seek out more sugar. It’s been compared to cocaine. Addiction to sugar is really hard to break. It has major adverse affects on our cardiovascular system, our liver and of course our teeth. A large daily consumption of sugar can cause type 2 diabetes, liver disease and heart disease (and affects your brain function). Reducing one’s intake of sugar is not as easy as it looks as added sugar is in almost everything! It’s hidden in seemingly healthy foods like lowfat yogurt, cereals, granola bars and juice. Everyone who cares about their health their family’s health must watch That Sugar Film. Damon Gameau, an Australian actor and director decided to do an experiment along with the help of a team of doctors and nutritionist to consume 40 teaspoons of sugar a day (the Australian average) by eating what seems like healthy food. Share it with your kids. It’s eye opening!
The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 added teaspoons a day. Some kids consume more than 100 teaspoons! Let’s talk grams for a minute as that is what we see on the back of our drinks and food labels. The American Heart Organization recommends 25 grams of added sugar a day for women and 36 grams for men. Check out the graphic from Daily Burn about “secret sugar.” Look how incredibly easy it is to rack up those grams even before lunch. I’m probably way over my daily grams and have much work to do. Can you believe that 1 can of Coca Cola and 1 bottle of Snapple peach tea has 39 grams of sugar? Reducing one’s sugar intake is not easy. It requires a major shift in thinking about food and breaking bad habits but it’s worth it. Just try focusing on it . . . one day at a time.