If you haven’t seen the documentary, Fed Up, you should. It examines the roots of obesity in America – ultimately blaming sugar – and offers some staggering statistics related to sugar consumption in the United States.
- From 1977 to 2000, Americans have doubled their dietary sugar intake.
- In 1980 the number of documented type two diabetes cases amongst American adolescents (ages 8-19) was zero. Whereas, in 2010, there were 57,638 U.S. adolescents diagnosed with this preventable, life-threatening disease.
- Between 1970 and 1990, the consumption of high fructose corn syrup in America has increased by 1000 percent.
- By 2010, two out of every three Americans were either overweight or obese.
Here are some things you should know about sugar, but probably don’t.
- Sugar can damage your heart – a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association produced strong evidence that sugar can actually affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and therefore increase the risk for heart failure.
- Sugar specifically promotes belly fat – Childhood obesity rates are on the rise, specifically fat accumulation in the trunk or middle area of the body. An increase in fructose-laden beverages could be to blame. A 2010 study in children found that excess fructose intake actually caused visceral fat cells to mature – setting the stage for excess belly fat.
- Sugar is a silent killer – A recent study found that excess fructose consumption was linked to an increase in leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling your body you’re full. If there’s nothing telling you you’re full, you’re likely to overeat. Leptin resistance happens with no symptoms or warning bells – it’s silent, but can have deadly consequences.
- Sugar limits your brain power – A 2012 study found that excess sugar consumption was linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health. A 2009 study in rats showed similar findings. A diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything.
- Sugar is making you fat – You know you should limit your intake of the sweet stuff. Sugar is lacking in nutrients and that makes it easier to eat a whole bunch of it without any physical effects. On the other hand, foods rich in fiber, fat and protein are associated with increased fullness. Sugar gives you the calories, but not the feeling that you have had enough. That’s why you can eat a huge bag of Skittles and still be hungry for lunch an hour later. Those excess calories contribute to being overweight.