Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Four Reasons to Eat Less Sugar

“Fructose has long-term effects when it’s consumed in large quantities from unnatural sources.  Numerous studies show that fructose is associated with impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, high blood fats, and hypertension.”  
                          --David Perlmutter, MD, from Brain Maker, 2015

When you go to page 23 of my book, Nourish and Flourish: Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes, you will find a list of 59 different names for sugar.  The fact is food manufacturers don’t want you to know how much sugar they are putting into processed foods.  The trick is to use lots of different names and kinds of sugar so it looks like there is not very much sugar in the products. If all the different sugars were grouped together as one sugar, then sugar would be the first ingredient listed for many common foods, like cereals, granola and energy bars, since ingredients are listed in order of volume.
While food accounts for a large portion of the added sugar in our diet, many experts recommend cutting back on sugary beverages to reduce daily intake. In the following slides, we compare the amount of sugar found in some of America's top-selling beverages -- according to Beverage Industry magazine's <a href="" target="_blank">2013 State of the Industry Report</a> -- to the sugar found in common sugary snacks.

I have written before in Wellness Wednesdays about "The Pop Tart Lesson" that I teach throughout the United States.  Look at a box of Pop Tarts and use the list in Nourish and Flourish to identify the various sugars in the ingredient list.  If all the different sugars used to make Pop Tarts were lumped together as “sugar”, then sugar would be the first ingredient. But Kellogg's, the company that makes Pop Tarts, knows that they can legally get away with making sugar the most common ingredient without having to tell you.  When highly processed sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, are cheap to make, then Kellogg's makes lots of money and your kids get hooked on Pop Tarts and other sugar-filled foods.  
Eating too much sugar is a really big problem in America.  Below are four important – and serious - reasons to eat and drink less sugar:

REASON 1:  Obesity.  The numbers and costs are staggering. 
  1. More than 1/3 of all US adults are obese (34.9% or 78.6 million).
  2. The estimated annual medical costs of obesity in the US is $147 billion.
  3. The medical costs for people who are obese are about $1,429 higher/year than those at a normal weight.
  4. Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 
  5. Children and adolescents who are obese are at higher risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
  6. The long-term health effects of children who are obese is that they are more likely to be obese as adults.  

REASON 2:  Diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. 
  1. From 1980 to 2011, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes tripled (from 5.6 million to 20.9 million).
  2. There are 29.1 million Americans (or about 9.3% of the population) with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes. 
  3. There are about 86 million (or about 37% of the population) with prediabetes.
  4. The total costs for the cases of diagnosed diabetes was around $245 billion in 2012.  This is up 41% from the $174 billion in 2007. 

REASON 3:  Alzheimer’s Disease.  
  1. This is being called Type 3 Diabetes.
  2. In 2013 there were about 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease.
  3. The number of people with Alzheimer’s Disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
  4. In 2015, Alzheimer's (and other dementias) will cost the U.S. $226 billion.

REASON 4:  Our kids’ health.

So, now what do you do?  Check food labels for sugar.  Cut back on how much sugar your kids are eating and drinking every day.  Take the first step and make healthier choices for you and your kids with your wallet.  Buy foods and drinks with less sugar.  Eliminate all high fructose corn syrup from what you eat and drink. 

I will leave you with this:  remember the 1971 Coca Cola song, Hilltop?  Check out the version just released from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  Click here.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.