All over the world, people are getting fatter and chronically sicker. Why? Because the big food companies are adding refined sugar to most of their products. These food companies are responsible for the current obesity and chronic sickness epidemics.
The World is Getting Fatter
55 percent of Americans, meaning the majority of the population, are either overweight or obese.
Worldwide, in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight; that’s 27% of the world population. Of this number, over 650 million were obese.
But it’s not only adults
China is currently in the grip of a childhood obesity epidemic, with eight percent of kids significantly overweight in urban areas.
Today in America:
– 20 million kids are seriously overweight
– Almost one-third of 9-month-olds are obese or overweight
Added Sugar Consumption and Percentage of Overweight and Obese from 1961 to 2000
As the consumption of refined fructose goes up, the obesity rate goes up too. Is the sugar following the trend, or is the overweight and obesity trend caused by the sugar?
The cause is the refined sugar and refined fructose.
How Is Added Sugar Making us Fat?
1st – Studies have shown (source here) that 80% of processed food contains added sugar. Food companies have found that by adding refined sugar and removing fiber, food is easier to eat, quicker to prepare, easier to digest, and highly addictive.
Food companies make more money, we lose quality of life, and we pay the bill in the form of more expensive medical care. (Watch my video Why Added Sugar is Everywhere? and How Food Companies Make Millions of Dollars).
Refined sugar is everywhere, and we are eating too much sugar – as much as 20 teaspoons per day. The recommended amount of sugar per day is just nine teaspoons.
Our body converts the excess sugar into fat and stores it under the skin. The more sugar we eat, the fatter we get.
2nd – We have a hormone on our stomach called leptin, which is also known as the hunger hormone. After we eat a meal, Leptin sends a message to our brain to let us know that we are full.
Our brain gets the message, we then feel full, and we know that we don’t need to eat any more. When we eat too much sugar, our hunger hormone doesn’t work properly and doesn’t notify our brains that we are full. Because of this, we constantly feel hungry – no matter how much or when we eat. This leads to constant cravings, constant snacking, overeating, and weight gain.
3rd – Different studies (sources here and here) have shown that sugar is highly addictive. We develop a tolerance to sugar, so when on a high sugar diet for too long, if you eat less sugar than normal you’ll start to experience symptoms of withdrawal – just like giving up smoking.
This makes us feel depressed and we seek out sugar to feel good again. It’s a terrible addictive cycle that drains our energy. Constant eating and digesting lots of sugar uses a lot of energy, and that leaves you feeling tired all the time.
No Only Fatter but also Chronically Sicker
Nobody dies of obesity. Instead, people are dying from chronic metabolic diseases such as:
- heart attack
- heart failure
- non-alcoholic fatty liver
Chronic metabolic diseases are a man-made cluster of illnesses that occur because of lifestyle factors. Their cause is mainly the same: the food we eat – our diet.
Chronic metabolic diseases significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Chronic Metabolic Diseases
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a dietary and lifestyle disease caused mainly by a high sugar, low fiber diet. Type 2 diabetes was quite uncommon until the twentieth century, and it was typically diagnosed after age fifty. In fact, it was often known as Adult Onset Diabetes Mellitus. It was very rare for anyone under the age of 50 to develop Type 2 diabetes.
Today in America, one-third of all new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes are in teenagers and kids. So much for adult onset!
It all started 30 years ago when food companies started to add more sugar to most processed food.
20 years later, the number of people with type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed.
There are 30 Million Americans with Type 2 diabetes; that’s 10% of the population.
Another 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes, a condition that if not treated usually leads to type 2 diabetes within five years.
More than 110 million Americans are pre-diabetic or diabetic ( Diabetes report By CDC source here)
Over 40 percent of death certificates are due to type 2 diabetes.
The numbers are going up all over the world
In Canada, 29% of the population is living with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
In the UK 3.7 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Malaysia has the highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes on the planet.
Diabetes is rampant all over the world. 2013, the world diabetes statistics were shocking, but these numbers are increasing yearly and people continue to get sicker.
We’re Losing Health and Money
People and the governments are paying this expensive bill.
– The total costs of diabetes and pre-diabetes in the U.S. are $322 billion
– The average price of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013
- People with diabetes have health care costs double that of those without diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes can be Reversed
It’s proven that patients with type 2 diabetes can reverse the disease by avoiding processed food, added sugar, and by following a plant-based diet. No added sugar, no processed food, and only vegetables, legumes and fruit.
Chronic High Blood Pressure
Processed foods are high in sugar, salt, and fat, and for decades experts blamed the last two (salt and fat) as the villain of this story.
But they were wrong.
Chronic High blood pressure increased 39% between 2001 and 2011, source News.Heart.Org. This is exactly the same period when type 2 diabetes skyrocketed, and exactly 20 years after the food companies started to add increasingly more refined sugar to all processed food. It’s NOT a coincidence.
In the 1980s Added Sugar in Processed Food Skyrocketed.
Today, 38 years later:
Around 80 million U.S. adults have chronic high blood pressure.
About 7 out of every 10 people having their first heart attack also have high blood pressure (data by CDC source here)
The biggest problem is refined sugar and, in particular, the very cheap, very sweet and very poisonous refined fructose. One example of this is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener with a very high glycemic index that is made from highly processed corn starch that has been converted into fructose.
“Fructose can exert detrimental health effects beyond its calories, and in ways that mimic those of ethanol, its metabolic cousin. Indeed, the only distinction is that because fructose is not metabolized in the central nervous system, it does not exert the acute neuronal depression experienced by those imbibing ethanol”
HFCS and refined fructose are used in most sweet beverages, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, salad dressings and processed foods.
Highly refined sugar food spikes our blood sugar level which, in turn, increases our insulin levels. Insulin takes the sugar out of your bloodstream and then stores it as fat under our skin – a process called lipogenesis. This happens primarily on our belly, hips, and butt.
If we eat too much sugar, our cells develop a tolerance to insulin and it doesn’t work as effectively as before. This is called insulin resistance. 55% of Americans are insulin resistant. This means that more of the sugar eaten is stored as fat, and blood glucose levels remain elevated for long periods; this is very unhealthy.
Blood sugar levels are critical. If they are too high, called hyperglycemia, you can die. Because of this, it’s important that insulin can do its job and keep you’re the levels low.
To get that critical job done, when you eat sugar, the beta cells of the pancreas produce more insulin. If not diagnosed and treated, long-term elevation of insulin can lead to pre-diabetes and, later, to type 2 diabetes. There 110 million Americans diagnosed with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Studies have found that high insulin levels lead to hypertension or high blood pressure.
“High-sugar diets may contribute substantially to cardio-metabolic disease. While naturally occurring sugars in the form of whole foods like fruit are of no concern.”
in “Investing In Your Health… You’ll Love The Returns” by Will Shelton
Fruit contains natural fructose along with other nutrients and fiber. Fiber reduces and slows down sugar absorption in the intestines. Eating whole fruits is always, unless your doctor says anything to the contrary, a healthy choice.
Added sugar is more of a factor in high blood pressure than sodium (salt).
“Added sugars probably matter more than dietary sodium for hypertension, and fructose, in particular, may uniquely increase cardiovascular risk by inciting metabolic dysfunction and increasing blood pressure variability.”
Study “The wrong white crystals” source here
Refined fructose is only metabolized by the liver (just like alcohol). When consumed in large quantities, refined fructose causes high blood fats and triglycerides, leading to high blood pressure.
“Over time, consuming large quantities of added sugar can stress and damage critical organs, including the pancreas and liver. When the pancreas, which produces insulin to process sugars, becomes overworked, it can fail to regulate blood sugar properly. Large doses of the sugar fructose also can overwhelm the liver, which metabolizes fructose. In the process, the liver will convert excess fructose to fat, which is stored in the liver and also released into the bloodstream. This process contributes to key elements of MetS (metabolic syndrome), including high blood fats or triglycerides, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and extra body fat in the form of a sugar belly.”
Studies by Dr. Lewis Cantley (one of the most renowned experts in the field of cancer metabolism) established a strong link between high levels of insulin and cancer cells. Dr. Cantley believes that insulin is the fuel that feeds cancer cells. And what produces high levels of insulin? Sugar.
Dr. Cantley words:
“Insulin is the best of all activators of PI3-kinase—and PI3-kinase is arguably the most mutated pathway in all of cancer,” he explains. “So, if you follow the logic that anything that drives activation of PI3-kinase ultimately results in cancer, and that insulin is the best way to do it, then that suggests that having high levels of insulin is likely to drive your cancer. And what drives insulin levels is sugar.”
In America, there are 5.3 Million people suffering from Alzheimer.
Researchers have found a possible link between a diet high in refined sugar and Alzheimer’s disease.
In the world, there are 35.6 Million people diagnosed with Alzheimer.
There’s no evidence yet, but
“people with elevated blood sugar often have insulin resistance which may be the link that affects our brain cells.”
The numbers continue to rise.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the world.
In America every year 610,000 people die due to heart disease. That’s nearly 1700 per day.
Today, it hasn’t been established exactly how sugar affects our heart health, but it’s clear that there’s a strong link between the two.
“Overall, the odds of dying from heart disease rise in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index (a measure of weight).”
High sugar levels overload the liver, and the liver processes refined fructose just like alcohol. Creating fat around the liver, raising triglycerides, which may turn into fatty liver disease, which can lead to diabetes, raising the risks of heart disease.
As we have seen before, a high sugar diet raises blood pressure leading to chronic high blood pressure which can result in heart disease.
High consumption of sugar, especially in sugary beverages and breakfast cereals, all contribute to weight gain and later to obesity (click here to watch my video – how added sugar makes you fat).
High blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease are all linked to an increased risk of heart attack and strokes.
“Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease,”
says Dr. Hu.
How Much Sugar is Okay?
The American Heart Association recommends nine teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar per day for men and six teaspoons per day for women.
Today in American the average per person consumes 24 teaspoons of sugar every day.
Note: One can of coke has 36 grams of sugar.
How to Reduce Refined Sugar?
1st – Don’t drink sweetened beverages.
All juices, soft drinks, and sodas are high in sugar, fructose, or artificial sweeteners. Drink water or prepare your own smoothies at home (with whole fruit) and have homemade orange juice with pulp.
2nd – Check the nutrition labels of all the processed food you have at home.
Discard all the processed food containing sugar. Learn how to read nutrition labels to understand how much sugar is in the foods you have at home and in the supermarket.
3rd – Understand Nutrition Labels
Let’s use this breakfast cereal called Lucky Charms as an example:
First, you must understand the serving size which is always at the top. As you can see, it says ¾ of a cup. I’m pretty sure that anyone who has Lucky Charms for breakfast eats more than ¾ of a cup, but let’s assume they stick to this very small-sized serving.
Let’s switch to grams to make it easier, so ¾ of a cup is 27 grams.
Now look down to Total Carbohydrates. In dietary fiber, you see it’s a very low two grams, which is basically nothing. But sugars is a very high 10 grams.
This means that in 27 grams of Lucky Charms, there are 10 grams of sugar. That’s almost 50% sugar. This means that Lucky Charms are almost entirely made of sugar.
That’s why on the right side of the ingredients list you see marshmallows (which is pure sugar) as the second ingredient.
It’s interesting to mention that the ingredients are listed ordered by the highest to the lowest amount, and sugar is the 2nd most used ingredient in that list.
Oh, and sugar is also next after the marshmallows and is also listed 5th too as “Corn Syrup.” (Learn more about the 61 different names for sugar here).
So, if you eat two portions, a total of 54 grams or one and a half cups, (27grams + 27 grams or ¾ cup + ¾ cup) that’s a total of 20 grams of sugar!
Just for breakfast you’re already at more than half the sugar you can have in one day for an adult (36 grams is the recommended amount of sugar per day for men, and 24 grams per day for women). We know that kids eat a lot of this stuff in the morning.
4th – Avoid buying processed food
You don’t need to eat processed food. They might be quick to cook and eat, giving you instant pleasure but, in the long run, all that added sugar, processed fat, salt, and high calories will make you fat and ill.
Instead, forgo the instant gratification of processed food and make your own meals and snacks. In return, you’ll lose weight and be healthier – a source of delayed gratification.
5th – Enjoy Fruit, Vegetables, Legumes
Prepare your own food. Have a big bowl of fruit in the morning. Have a big salad for lunch, or some beans and lentils.
There are so many delicious, easy, and quick to prepare recipes that only take 20 minutes to make. You can cook a batch of meals for the week, putting leftovers in the fridge to grab-n-go the next morning before going to work.
I’ve shared more than 200 healthy recipes, and every Friday I share two more.
Enter your name and email and hit the button to subscribe to my weekly newsletter and get two healthy recipes in your email every Sunday)
6th – Processed Food Is Cheap, But You Pay for It Later With Your Health
Eating fast food, ready-to-eat meals, and all that processed food may be tempting and very cheap, but in the long run what suffers most is your body and your well-being.
The money you will save today will cost you in your daily quality of life.
20 No-Sugar Days Challenge
Join our No Sugar Diet Challenge and for 20 days avoid added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
It will be challenging for the first few days but, after the first week, you will:
- Improve your mood
- Lose weight
- Have less anxiety
- Have more mental focus
It’s 100% free and there are tips, tricks and sugar-free recipes to help you start you challenge.
Click here to Join The No-Sugar Diet Challenge
How Added Sugar Makes You Fat
Why Added Sugar is everywhere
Sugar: Hiding in plain sight – Robert Lustig
Fat Chance by Robert H Lusting
Thank you for your most excellent article. You have really done your research and this is information that everyone needs to have access to. I have bookmarked this page because I want to be able to read it again and absorb this very useful information. I would like to share this article on pinterest and twitter and stumbleupon.
With best wishes, Helena
Wow!Thanks so much for your words. Yes, please share. Learning, Education and Sharing are, in my opinion, the best tools we have to help us improve our well-being. Thank you. Have a great day.
A very informative piece . I am 56 and have gone sugar free since Monday . I also will book mark
Thank you so much for your words. All the luck for your journey, it’s hard but totally worth it. I’ve recently published an article that you might find useful ”
How to Stop Sugar Cravings” you can find it at https://daystofitness.com/how-to-stop-sugar-cravings/. Have a great day