Sugar: Is the Truth Really Bitter?

April 12, 2012

Sweets might taste great but the amount of sugars Americans are consuming continues to rise, find out the downside of the sweet habit here

Sugar is all over headlines lately, whether it’s complete shock about the “realities” of sugar from Sanjay Gupta’s 60 Minutes segment with Dr. Robert Lustig, a California endocrinologist (and others), or that the sugar growers feel they are under attack by the Corn Refiners et al, lobbying to change the name of high fructose corn syrup; or the CDC exposing the amount of sugars kids are consuming today, sugar just can’t catch a sweet break. And maybe it shouldn’t…

Dr. Lustig believes that obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol issues, and heart disease are all related to the over-consumption of sugar. And over consume we do! The average American consumes over 130 pounds of sugar a year. Kids consume about 300 calories from added sugars daily, that’s way over the American Heart Associations recommended intake of less than 150 calories for men and 100 calories for women- the numbers are even lower for kids.

Where is the sugar coming from? Well, according to a recent CDC data brief, reviewing information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the majority of sugar consumption in adolescents occurs in the home. Slightly more than one-half of the added sugar calories from beverages were consumed at home (54%), while nearly two-thirds of the added sugars consumed from foods were consumed at home (66%). The majority of added sugars come from foods not beverages. It’s a similar story for adults.

So where is the sugar hiding and how you be more in tune with your sugar intake?

According to Dr Lustig the obvious forms of sugar include table sugar, honey, syrup, sugary drinks and desserts, but also “just about every processed food you can imagine [contains added sugar including] yogurts and sauces, bread, and even peanut butter.”

Unfortunately, according to Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute, also part of Dr. Gupta’s 60 Minutes interview, sugar is addictive and activates the same regions of the brain as addictive substances like cocaine. Yikes!

You can view Dr. Lustig’s original talk on sugar here.