By Jamie Henderson
It’s white, it’s nice, it’s addictive, and it’s extremely tasty. No, it’s not snow; I’m talking about sugar. What is this weird substance that finds itself in almost all of our food items? Where does it come from, and why can’t we stay away from it?
Sugar is now the number one culprit when it comes to diabetes and obesity
We have an ongoing obesity epidemic on our hands, which is growing as you read. Diabetes and heart disease are on the rise and the causes are hidden in seemingly ‘healthy’ food items. Everyday shopping has become a maze where every turn leads you down the path of obesity.
Back in the day when humans mostly foraged for food, sweet things were prized findings. Sweet berries and fruits contained high amounts of calories which was vital to our survival. We developed a certain taste for sweetness. Unfortunately, this preference has carried on with evolution and still constitutes a crucial part of our taste buds and tongues. We still have an instinctual desire for sweetness.
In today’s day and age, in countries that exploit others, most inhabitants do not need a required taste for calorie-rich food. We do not need to keep consuming that sweet, sweetness. Although this is the case, we still have a taste for sweetness. So what does this mean for us, today, when we stand in the line at Albert Heijn, or at Bendi and are faced with a multitude of choices, most of them containing masses of sugar? It means that we go for food items which are sugar-loaded.
After fat was proclaimed the culprit of heart disease and obesity in the 70’s, everyone started cutting out fatty foods from their diets. The food industry quickly hopped on the wave and started producing foods that contained little to no fat. The only problem with this was that without fat, food really isn’t that tasty. So instead of fat, the food industry ingeniously added sugar. Sugar would help transform the western diet from poisonous to healthy and make it taste great.
Whereas there might have been good intentions hidden in this change of discourse, the outcomes have not been as good. Sugar consumption has risen massively and the food industry has hijacked the mentality of ‘fat is bad’ to keep sugar sales at an all time high. Sugar is now the number one culprit when it comes to diabetes and obesity which have become a new global health epidemic.
Current debates when it comes to health are dominated (or at least used to be led) by exercise. The general conception is that the only way to overcome obesity and lead a healthy lifestyle is through exercise. This idea is that exercise is the ultimate ‘cure’ which directly shifts the blame from sugar corporations to personal lifestyle. This is another way in which the way we think about health affects our sugar intake and directly harms us.
Why am I writing this? I think you have the right to be informed. We cannot be products of our environment when our environment is ruled by corporate interest.
Sugar in itself is not bad, this might come as a relief. However, the way in which we consume it today is extremely bad. Most foods in the shops are jam-packed with added sugars, sugars which are added to make the food taste unbearably delicious. However we have no clue what we are consuming, and what it does to us. We must realise that the food industries do not have our best interests at heart. The sugar that is pumped into our food is not there because it might be good for us, it’s there because it makes us buy more food.
Fat is seen as the bad guy, whereas it is in fact sugar who’s the culprit. We are addicted and it’s killing us. We need to consume consciously, and not assume the authority of food industries and governments who (surprise surprise) do not have our health on the top of their priority list.
Sugar: it’s nice, face it. But, face the fact that it is in virtually everything we put in our mouths. It gives you a pleasant rush, it’s addictive and it is deadly.