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The Case of Sugar #1: your body & obesity


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The Case of Sugar #1: your body & obesity

Mila Bogi

We have all heard parents repeatedly lecture their children on eating less sweets and chocolate, but we are also all aware that this is nothing, but sweet hypocrisy. If you have a little one around the house, you most certainly had this happen to you: as you enjoy your candy bar, your baby monster enters the room and you have to stuff the whole bar in your mouth and act as if everything is normal. I also just recently heard the story of a dad bribing his child with chocolate in order to not tell mommy that he drank Cola.

As cute and entertaining as these stories might be, the hard facts are quite sad.  We live in a disinformed sugar sprinkled world, where sedentary lifestyles prevail. As per WHO’s statistics, in 2016, 39% of women and 39% of men aged 18 and over were overweight. 

Obesity is said to occur when energy intake from food or drink consumption is greater than the energy expenditure through metabolism or exercise.

Metabolism and exercise. Remember that.

Evidence increasingly suggests that sugar might be the single root cause to the worldwide obesity epidemic.

The case of sugar got interesting lately for the impact of its consumption is one of the most controversial topics upon which scientist find it difficult to agree.

This article will review the physiological impacts of sugar intake before we gradually move to its impact on our brain and the environment. We will also later on discuss evolutionary history of sugar intake, as well as regulatory attempts on solving the issue. However, as any case, we need to build it from the bottom up and this why we start with what sugar does to your physical body.

Sugar consumption and the physiological effects it has on your body:

-        Insulin resistance

-        Lipid accumulation

-        Cardiovascular disease (CVD)

-        Type 2 diabetes (T2DM)

-        Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

-        Tooth decay

Research published in the Clinical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences discuss that in current literature there are two pathways in which added sugar contributes to metabolic disease.

Directly dysregulation of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism is caused. Indirectly, sugar is considered empty calories source, thus contributing positively to the energy balance and weight, which also causes the above mentioned dysregulation.

Research is, however, not yet conclusive whether or not sugar is the only souce of metabolic disease, since all studies conducted so far all have the same limitation. The subjects of these researches consumed added sugar with their usual ad libitum (as desired) diets, thus making it impossible to conclude what the total amount of added sugar consumed was.

Yet, while evidence might be inconclusive and misleading, we need to take note on the emerging controversy of the issue and keep in mind that sugar is just an empty source of energy, which is very palatable and ADDICTIVE (as will be dicussed in the next article).

What we need to do is balance our sugar intake with caution and be aware of what the hidden sources of sugar in our diet might be.

As consumers, we have the right to also demand transparency on added sugar levels, but also responsibility in educating ourselves and balancing energy intake to maintain a healthy weight. The WHO suggests that free sugar intake should be kept below 10% of total energy. To you, of course this percentage means nothing, so here is what 10% of total energy would mean to me:

2000 calories/day

 10% x 2000 calories = 200 calories.

Sugar has 386.7 kcal per 100 grams. Therefore, to my total energy input, sugar should account for 51.81 grams.

Let us put a picture to that:

Chocolate sugar.jpg

200 grams of chocolate


100 grams of sugar

Yes, this is right!!!

Imagine I ate one chocolate every day. There is approximately 50 grams of sugar in a chocolate, which would mean that I would have to spend the rest of the day eating veggies and foods without any sugar, not even natural such. No smoothies, fruits, bread, pasta, salad dressings and alcohol! You can diversify your sugar intake, of course, but always be cautious not to systematically trespass the healthy sugar intake boundary.

So, instead of preaching no sugar diets to your children, thus pushing them into disobedience without understanding - teach them to understand the components of a healthy diet and instill in them the value of health.

Give them ownership of their choices and responsibility towards the self. Educate them.

This is what people don’t understand: obesity is a symptom of poverty. It’s not a lifestyle choice where people are just eating and not exercising. It’s because kids - and this is the problem with school lunch right now - are getting sugar, fat, empty calories - lots of calories - but no nutrition.
— Tom Colicchio
Chocolaet sugar 2.jpg