Sydney, Australia (PRWEB) February 05, 2014
Sugar is being described as the new epidemic addiction, the "new tobacco", "enemy number one in the western diet", and as one of the leading contributors to a continually rising rate of obesity. A British panel of 18 expert medical and non-medical advisors making up the consumer organization Action on Sugar is endeavoring to reach a consensus with the food industry and government concerning the harmful effects of a high-sugar diet, and to reduce the amount of sugar in processed foods. Action on Sugar’s January 2014 press release caused a stir in the industries related to the increase in worldwide sugar consumption. Food knowledge websites help consumers curb their sugar intake, providing nutritional knowledge and education for health diets, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle.
Sugar is referred to as the "new tobacco" because evidence points to dramatic worldwide increases in sugar consumption with resultant health problems, a propensity for sugar addiction in consumers, with denial and vigorous defense from industries who use sugar prolifically. Industries involved in the increase in sugar consumption include the food processing and grocer industries, "Big Sugar," the worldwide mega-sugar industry, as well as soft drink companies and the fast food industry.
Sugar consumption is addictive. Robert H. Lustig is a pediatric neuroendocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who notes that sugar stimulates the reward center of our brain, stimulating the neurotransmitter dopamine, with increased tolerance, cravings and withdrawal symptoms, similar to traits manifest in other addictions.
In the U.S. the daily calorie intake from the decade of the 1950s to the year 2,000 increased by 500 calories, with fats, oils, and added sugars contributing to more than half of that figure. The increase in sugar consumption during that 40 to 50 year time period represents a 39% in sugar consumption (U.S.D.A.). From 1822 through 2005 sugar consumption in the U.S. has risen an astonishing 2,000% per capita, so that the average U.S. citizen consumes an average of 100 pounds of sugar per year (U.S. Department of Commerce). In Britain sugar consumption has increased 31% since 1990.
Consumer advocacy ties excessive sugar consumption to obesity in children and adults. Australia is one of the top 10 countries in the world in sugar consumption per capita and this is especially true for Australian children. An ABC News Australia headline notes a "War On Sugar", with nearly 50% of all Australian children consuming sugar-sweetened beverages daily, something described as unnecessary and counterproductive for a healthy diet, contributing to weight gain and childhood obesity. A similar trend is noted in other developed countries.
Health problems associated with high sugar consumption and associated obesity include diabetes, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and cancer. David Sack, MD of Psychology Today notes that a "high-sugar diet" can affect both our "physical and mental health".
Sugar is big business, with sugar produced in 120 countries and global sugar production exceeding 165 million tons per year. The worldwide sugar industry production exceeds 32 billion dollars per year according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
A significant amount of sugar is added to a wide variety of processed foods including lemonade, granola bars, baked beans, ketchup, cream substitutes, BBQ sauce, flavored popcorn, and "reduced salad dressings".
Consumer advocacy groups are fighting back, with U.K. and Australian-based consumer groups campaigning for a reduction in sugar intake, calling for a 20% to 30% reduction in sugar added to processed foods over the next three to five years. "Action on Sugar," indicates that a calorie reduction of 100 calories a day per person could reverse the obesity epidemic. The World Health Organization is suggesting a 50% reduction in the recommended daily sugar intake.
Understanding nutrition, including calorie consumption and how sugar intake is related to it, empowers consumers in making wise food purchases, resulting in better health, including weight loss for adults and for children. Knowing how to decode food package labeling is an essential skill for good health.
Consumer and food knowledge websites such as Foodfile educate consumers about the amount of sugar in foods, allowing them to make an informed decision about their food choices. Visit http://www.foodfile.org.