The Dangers of Eating Sugar


Various items from Xavier students’ lunches. It is important to eat a balanced diet from the five major food groups. Photo Courtesy of Lily Tierney ’19

Lily Tierney, Class Writer

Nowadays, Americans are consuming much more sugar than ever before. When people think of addiction, sugar addictions are often overlooked. This is the reason why sugar is so dangerous: it is more destructive and deadly than we know.

Sugar, also referred to as “The White Death”, is in more foods than people expect. Natural sugars are in foods that contain carbohydrates, such as dairy, fruits, grains, and vegetables. The consumption of sugar in whole foods is fine for your health. The human body digests these foods slowly, and the sugar supplies energy steadily to the cells, reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Problems start to happen when people consume too much sugar. Added sugar is found in products that people would never expect. Food manufacturers add sugar to products to enhance the flavor and extend their shelf life. For meals and snacks, people tend to rely on processed foods which contain tons of added sugar, so these quick meals and snacks make up a huge portion of their daily calorie intake. Many people think they are not consuming too much sugar, but in reality, people consume much more sugar on a daily basis than they think.

According to Dr. Vincent Pedre, a sugar addict specialist, three-fourths of Americans are addicted to sugar. The problem is that most people do not know they are addicted to it. The only ones who truly know that humans are addicted to sugar is food manufacturers. Food manufacturers add sugar in foods you could never expect, such as foods that are not even sweet. Adding sugar to everything makes customers want to come back for more because they are addicted. Humans can start to gain knowledge about the foods that sugar is in by reading the ingredients and staying informed about the various, over 60 in fact, names sugar has. Some major red flags include ingredients such as syrups or any words that end in -ose, such as: glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose.

Sugar is the root cause of people’s health issues. On the authority of Dr. Pedre, as soon as one stops consuming sugar, their nagging health issues go away, like fatigue, bloating, achiness, abdominal pain, sinus congestion, and joint pains. Many people are unaware that sugar may be causing these problems.

Since sugar addictions are just like regular addictions, sugar addicts should not consume even the slightest amount of sugar. After a while, sugar addicts will not crave it anymore. Like most addicts, you need to power through the cravings and temptations. Most cravings do not last for long, so sugar addicts need to learn to say no to the initial craving, and it will go away. These cravings will go away because humans do not need added sugar to survive. One food that sugar addicts can consume to help with the cravings is whole fruit because it contains natural sugar. Down the road, people who are addicted to sugar need to stray away from even natural sugar. Natural sugar takes a longer time to fill a person’s satisfaction, but it is still positive feedback and it will work. It is not easy to overcome any addiction, but it is possible.

It is essential for everyone, especially those of a young age, to develop healthy eating habits. The results of eating healthy include things such as decreased risks of diseases and diabetes, feeling good, increased performance, and staying in shape.

The five major food groups are fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein. Being healthy consists of a balanced diet between the five food groups. Senior Ashley Banaszak states, “My breakfast is usually something high in protein to sustain me throughout the day like a protein bar and then coffee. Lunch and dinner are clean eating, so I have protein like chicken and then at least two vegetables. I sometimes have dessert if I am craving something sweet.” Generally, it is important to have regular meals, drink lots of water, eat lots of fruit and vegetables daily, and limit your intake on foods that have sugar in them. Senior Brisa Footit exclaims, “On a daily basis, I have a balanced diet that consists of fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein, and grains.”

When it comes to kids, they want sweets and treats. It is common for parents to give their kids something that tastes good as a reward, but parents need to start thinking about the health risks that are brought on by sugar. It is important for parents to model good eating habits for their children. Senior Tessa Tierney states, “Overall I eat pretty good on a day to day basis. My parents have modeled a good diet for me. I sometimes have a smoothie for breakfast, and for lunch, I have apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, a Larabar, and cashews. For dinner, it’s usually something like chicken and a vegetable.”

According to the American Heart Association, children aged 2-18 should eat less than 25 grams of added sugar on the daily. Children under 2 should have no sugar at all. If kids from a young age are eating foods with a lot of added sugar, there are links to many health risks such as heart disease and obesity. Children that are wasting their diet on foods with lots of added sugar will eat less healthy foods that are essential for a healthy heart. The more added sugar that is consumed from an early age, the likelihood of health problems developed later in life increases.

There is confusion when it comes to how much added sugar is safe for children to consume. The problem is that with the lack of consensus and coherence, added sugar remains a common ingredient that is added into various food and drinks. Therefore, the consumption of sugar in children remains very high. Footit states, “On the weekends, my diet changes by consuming more junk food than I typically would during the week. I could improve this by picking healthier choices when going out instead of eating fast food and dessert.” According to the American Heart Association, the classic child from America digests three times the recommended amount of added sugar.

Today, it is essential for parents to start doing the math on sugar and how much their children should consume. Parents need to actively be making their own healthy meals and looking at food labels. 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the safe amount for children to consume daily is around 6 teaspoons. Senior Carmela Palmieri stated, “I don’t think I consume much sugar unless it’s a healthy sugar. I can improve my diet by not eating as many carbs like bread or such.”

The key factor in adjusting one’s diet is someone’s energy intake. Humans are able to adjust their diet to meet their energy needs. People know when their bodies need carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Everyone has hunger and fullness cues, so each person can regulate their food intake. If you develop cues that are restrictive and coercive, then it will overrule one’s natural self-regulation of food, and you will not notice the fullness and hunger cues.

An important action that will help kids develop healthy eating habits from a young age is having parents offer healthy food choices at every meal. Kids that get to choose from a variety of healthy food at each meal are on the right track to a healthy diet. Occasional treats should not be completely ruled out from your kid’s diet. Sweets and treats should be used as a reward, but very rarely and in small portions. If parents want to have no treats for their kids as a reward, then finding other options as a reward that do not include sugar is an alternative. Parents can find other rewards that give their children joy.

Sugar stimulates the same parts of a human’s brain as cocaine does. Essentially, sugar is cocaine for the brain. Sugar affects the dopamine pathways, and dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes people feel good. Sugar makes people feel good for a period of time, and they get addicted to the feeling. When you have an addiction to sugar, one taste is not enough because of the way the neural circuit is designed. People will start to want more sugar, and they will become insensitive to small amounts of sugar, causing them to consume sugar in larger amounts.