by Nicole Eisenberg
For decades, sugar has been the blood running through our veins and it’s time to admit: America is addicted to it. Sugar has always been a drug infused into Americans’ lives, but now it has become an epidemic.
Sugar’s presence is more pronounced in the American diet than you would assume. Sugar, sneakily, makes its way into all food groups. Corporations further our addiction by adding sugar to products like tomato sauces, salsas, breads, cereals and even so-called “healthy” salad dressings. They want you to keep coming back to the stores to buy their products, so they use sugar to tap into your addiction.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the average American consumed just two pounds of sugar per year 200 years ago. In 1973, this jumped to 123 pounds and today the average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar a year. Just to clarify, that is three pounds a week.
How have food companies gotten away with this?
For one, sugar isn’t just called sugar anymore. When reading the labels on packages sugar is hidden under all different names. For example, glucose, lactose, sorghum syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, honey, molasses, dextrose and the list goes on. So you may think you are being healthy by reading the labels and trying to avoid sugar, but these big food enterprises are tricking you.
Now that food is mass-produced and most of our meals start from a package, it is inevitable that we have become accustomed to the extra sweetness in our food. When eating yogurt, the average person would assume that they are making a healthy choice. However, if they choose a flavor other than plain, they would be mistaken. Fruity flavors dilute the nutritional value of the protein-packed snack by dumping in unnecessary sugars to feed our cravings and to keep us coming back.
For one small individual 5.3-ounce Light & Fit Dannon strawberry yogurt, there are 8 grams of sugar. We think we are making conscious decisions by choosing “Light and Fit” while the brand advertises only 70 calories per yogurt. But the calories aren’t what should be scaring us — it’s the sugar.
Sugar’s possible side effects in our body are gruesome. Research has shown that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks can raise blood pressure and a high sugar diet could stimulate the liver to push more harmful fats into the bloodstream. Both of these are known factors in increasing the risk of heart disease, according to Harvard Health Publications. The epic boost in sugar intake over the years is connected to an increase in Americans with heart disease. The two trends are not coincidental.
The argument has been made that the sugar industry is becoming the new “big tobacco.” The industry’s power is exorbitant. There is no federal upper limit for the amount of added sugars can be added to the foods we eat, whereas there are limits for salt and fat. Since our government is not taking precautions for our health with regard to sugar, Americans themselves must be cognizant to the ingredients they put into their body. Next time you’re at the store picking up your normal bite to eat, glance at the sugar content. You might be surprised.