Know the Facts

1. More than Tooth Decay.

We all know that eating too many sweets causes tooth decay. What we talk much less about is the fact that sugar plays a role in heart disease, obesity and fatty liver disease. It also plays a role in Type II diabetes, and kidney disease. But why do we keep on eating something we know is bad for us?

2. Sugar is addicting and it reprograms your brain

What happens in the brain that makes sugary foods so hard to resist? A chain reaction is triggered moments after sweet foods hit the receptors on your tongue sending signals to your cerebral cortex, activating a reward system. Sweetness makes you feel so good that you want more. On top of it, sugar short-circuits the signal to your brain that says you’re “full.” So you keep eating more and more sweet foods. Watch the TEDEd short film below to better understand the nature of this addiction.

3. Hiding behind many names.

To make matters worse, sugar is hidden in foods that appear to be healthy choices. Fruit juice concentrate, rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, barley malt, high fructose corn syrup, and maltodextrin: all added sugar in disguise. There are over 50 different names used for sugar. Best is to check food labels and remember that the maximum added sugar shouldn’t be more than 24 grams (6 teaspoons) and should definitely be less than 48 grams for the whole day day for an adult eating 2000 calories per day.

4. Sugar is in almost everything we eat.

The other day my husband asked: did you change the toaster settings? I could smell his burnt toast. I quickly realized that I had not checked the list of ingredients of the new organic multigrain bread I’d just bought. Sure enough, there it was: a whole 5 grams per slice. That’s why it burnt. I hadn’t touched the toaster.

Food label showing 30 grams of sugar in 1 portionOne hundred and fifty-six pounds per year. That’s how much added sugar Americans consume each year on a per capita basis, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most of it is hidden just like the toast my husband burned. Imagine it: 31 five-pound bags for each of us.

The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for a 2000 calorie diet. If you do the math, this adds up to less than 20 pounds per year. For children under the age of 2, the World Health Organization recommends 0 added sugar.

Our consumption of the sweet wonder started rising in the 70’s after fat was blamed for many health issues and removed from processed foods. However manufacturers soon realized that without the fat food tasted pretty bland. Adding sugar made those new “light” foods palatable again. Ever wondered why the light version of your favorite mayonnaise tasted sweet?

5. We overdose our kids 

There is so much sugar in breakfast cereals and yoghurts that these apparently healthy foods should be labelled desserts. As a parent you are busy and processed foods are convenient. The problem is that sugar is present in 99% of processed foods. It adds taste and appeal to foods. The food industry knows this: they even refer to it as the bliss point.

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