Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

Sugar News, Sugar Blues

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I reprint here my latest Thin From Within blog from Psychology Today:

Those of us concerned with diet, health, weight, eating disorders, and addiction follow what I call “Sugar News” with great interest.   Starting, perhaps, in 2011, with the New York Times story “Is Sugar Toxic?”, followed by a 60-Minutes segment with the same name, the public has had  increasing exposure to what Overeaters Anonymous has known for years:  some people just can’t stop.   We’ve learned that sugar lights up addicts’ brains as clearly as drugs do.  Further, we’ve learned that it may be sugar, and not fat, fueling diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other diseases on the rise.

National Geographic now steps forward as the latest major magazine headlining Sugar News.   “Sugar Love:  A Not So Sweet Story”, by Rich Cohen, recounts our species’ historical love affair, and its significant struggles, with the substance that was once used sparingly, as a rare spice.  (We now consume, on average, 78 lbs. per person, per year—some spice!)    Cohen not only reviews sugar’s health tolls but provides deep perspective on why and how it spurs such rampant problems.

Other recent news, however, jars in contrast.   For the latest review of our nation’s eating trends, well summarized by the New York TimesJane Brody last week, shows little change in our sweet consumption.  That 78 lbs. per person remains stable, even if it is down somewhat from its all-time high.  It’s still way too high, about 22 teaspoons per day.    “….Cut back, many of the ill effects disappear…..”, one prominent medical researcher admonishes.  But it seems the increasingly frequent headlines—calling sugar a toxin, a poison, a drug—haven’t nudged our behavior all that much, at least not yet.

Realistically speaking, however, mass changes can take a long time.  It might take decades for these relatively recent findings to affect individual habits.  It might in fact require changes in public health policy (think here of tobacco research).   In the shorter run, though, Sugar News most certainly bolsters a group that sometimes does, and sometimes does not, overlap with the obesity stats:  the binge eaters, or self-identified food addicts.   Many in these groups benefit immediately from Sugar News.   Indeed, new and affirming paths for healing open as a result. (more…)

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