Are we consuming sugar or is sugar consuming us?

Sugar Addiction: Our increasing use of sugar

Are we consuming sugar or is sugar consuming us?

With so much written recently in the press about sugar addiction and a call for a 'Say No to Sugar' movement from some leading authors, it appears that our relationship with what we eat and in particular, our use of sugar, has changed dramatically over the last thirty to forty years.

Recently it was reported in the UK Telegraph (2014) that the average Briton consumes 248 teaspoons of sugar a week. To add to this statistic, the average American consumes about 6 cups of sugar per week – the equivalent of 3 pounds of sugar.

Even if we are not choosing to eat/use sugar in the form of a sweet treat, we are most probably consuming it anyway, perhaps without being fully aware that we are – or perhaps because we have accepted this as a way of living.

I remember as a child, sugar came mostly in the form of sweets; it was obvious what we were choosing. We would choose a packet of sweets or bar of chocolate and this was seen as a treat or a reward. Sugar was treated with a degree of respect, even caution, and with the awareness that it was not great to eat a lot of sugar.

Now I have children of my own, and know only too well about their own and their school friends' use of sugar. I see the ice-cream van parked outside school every day with a queue of school children eagerly awaiting their daily sweet fix. I see the sweets regularly given out around school and the supermarket shelves bursting with them. All of this has been around for a long time – but something has changed.

Our changing use of sugar

The fact is that the amount of sugar we eat has changed; the scale in which we use it has increased drastically.

Sugar is present, and often hidden, in very high amounts in the everyday processed, pre-prepared and convenience foods being consumed in huge quantities globally.

Sugar is no longer seen as an occasional treat in many households, it’s now normal or ‘run of the mill’ to use sugar – which is highly accessible in one way or another – on a daily basis.

  • It is in our bread, cereals and fruit juices at the start of the day

  • It is in our mid-morning break – even those 'healthy yogurts' and 'healthy snack bars' are usually packed with sugar

  • We put it in our tea and coffee

  • It is even in our ham sandwich, takeaway curry, cinema popcorn, beer or wine, microwave meal and so it goes on.

Sugar, in its many forms, is used everywhere and it has become the norm to consume it as part of our regular diet in very large amounts.

This level of sugar consumption has led to many people being addicted to sugar and we are witnessing the highest levels of obesity and diabetes of our time on a world-wide scale.

Do you want to be more aware about sugar or get a handle on your own sugar use? Explore the Food sphere and read this great article.

Filed under

SugarAddictionObesityChocolate Diabetes

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd