Is sugar the new tobacco?

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Recently the tabloids have been really getting into the whole sugar debate. Some news reports have suggested that ‘sugar is the new tobacco’ as researchers believe it to be just as addictive. Others scientists describe sugar as a ‘poison’ lacing snack bars, breakfast cereals and fizzy drinks. Dr Robert Lustig, a leading US doctor, even claims that sugar is more addictive than controlled drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Perhaps this can be reflected in modern diets in the western world. For some, sugar has become a part of a staple diet instead of a treat. But how has this happened?

Some experts believe that the food industry is acting in the same way as a drug dealer would. They prey on the unsuspecting by lacing foods with high levels of sugar, knowing that they will become addicted and crave more. Conspiracy theories aside, the levels of sugar in ‘normal’ food products can be very alarming. We’ve all seen the info-graphs and articles telling us how much sugar is in a coke, but when was the last time you checked your yoghurt, soup, salad dressing or bread? These are just a sample of products which could contain an excess of sugar.

So what is being done about it? Well most recently the government has shelved plans to tackle high sugar intake in the population. Perhaps these plans are being delayed due to them being ‘controversial’ or maybe, as some suggest, it is due to the government putting the interests of food companies above the health of the nation? Regardless, I think sugar intake should be targeted on an individual level. Forget the government and food companies. What can you do for yourself?

Firstly if you don’t know how much of a certain food group you should be consuming each day, research it.
Unlike sugar, knowledge is always good for you!
Current NHS guidelines suggest no more than 30g of sugar per day for adults. Do people currently stick to this recommendation? Of course many people won’t, but is it because of excess sugar in foods or because they eat a lot of known sugary foods? We all live busy lifestyles and perhaps we just don’t have time to check every label and plan every meal?

Well as all these experts are likening sugar to hard drugs, my advice is to start small and slowly un-sweeten your life. Ways to do this could include:

  • Drink water instead of fizzy pop.
  • Cut sugar from tea/coffee.
  • Use desserts as a treat, not as a part of every meal.
  • Try to remember to read the labels!

Ween yourself off sugar and that way if the government does introduce a ‘sugar tax’ as they have mentioned, you won’t even realise it. You’ll be too busy eating right.

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About Author

As a physical education graduate and qualified personal trainer, Mathew is very knowledgable when it comes to fitness. Outdoor training is a personal favourite of Mathew's but he also has a high degree of gym based experience. Location: Carlisle

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