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Benjamin Elliott

David Mastroianni

Global II


Sugar: The Sweetest Poison on the Shelves

Artificial sugars have invaded American grocery stores. From yogurt, to bread, to salads,

it is now nearly impossible to find food that has not been filled with some form of sugar. This

was not always the case, however, and thirty to forty years ago anyone would be hard pressed to

find corn syrup in something as simple as salad dressing. So what changed? Well, the food

industry figured out that by adding sugars into foods, they could make significantly more money,

as people were suddenly far more inclined to buy the products with sugar in them than those

without them. Several corporations continued this practice until they were making far more

money than any of their competitors, and soon in order to keep up, almost all companies were

adding sugar into their foods. Years later, the scientific community is able to safely acknowledge

that sugar in copious amounts is generally bad for you, but unfortunately still added in extremely

high amounts to most of what Americans eat, a practice that is allowed and funded due to poor

health education and an ease of accessibility of these sugar filled, unhealthy choices. The

excessive addition of artificial sugars, such as corn syrup, into food products throughout the food

industries of developed nations is extremely detrimental to global health, and radical changes

need to be implemented in order to solve the impending health crisis that sugar is pushing the

global population towards.

Sugars are not always bad for human consumption, and in fact the human body needs a

fair amount of them to survive. There are three basic types of sugars that all other sugars are

created out of: glucose, fructose, and galactose. Glucose is the most common of the three. It is an

energy rich, fast acting sugar that they body attempts to use as soon as it acquires it. Glucose is

what the body typically uses to give organisms energy, and is typically a prefered source of

energy. Fructose is the second most common type of sugar.(Medline) Fructose is usually

converted into fat through the liver as soon as it is acquired for later use, which can lead to high

amounts of body fat and the diseases that accompany it. However, in nature this is usually fine,

as fructose is usually found in small amounts in naturally occurring foods, and is typically mixed

with fiber so the consumer feels full after having had consumed only a small amount.(Medline)

The final and least common type of sugar is galactose. This sugar is commonly found in

unrefined dairy products, and is generally the healthiest of the three, as it is put to use by muscle

cells before much else.(Medline) All sugars, however, are simply calories; they are an excellent

source of energy, but on their own contain no nutritional quality.(Medline) This typically causes

overeacting of simple sugars and starches, a form of sugar, such as with potato chips or breads.

Sugar can also be highly addictive to the degree in which heavy consumers of sugars will

actually experience withdrawal symptoms without eating high amounts of carbohydrates, and

will binge on foods like candies, snack foods, and baked goods. In fact, the global addiction to

sugars has grown so much that according to an article from National Geographic, the US alone

spent $32 billion on candy alone, and the per capita consumption was 25 pounds (Cohen, 93),

which would have been unheard of a century ago. As a result of the ready availability of these

foods, it is important that people moderate their sugar intake, particularly because of the food

industries implementation of sugars into their production, and their overuse of these sugars.
Food corporations use sugars for a wide variety of purposes, some being helpful to

society, and some being detrimental. Take fermentation for example. In order to create many

modern foods, such as pickles, any form of alcohol, bread, or anything else that needs to be

fermented, sugar is required. This use of sugar is fine, and is even helpful for human health, as

pickling and fermenting foods can help to alleviate hunger in many areas of the world. Pickling

and fermenting foods helps to keep foods fresh for long periods of time, and are an almost

essential part of many peoples food consumption globally. However, sugar is also used in many

ways that hurt the consumer, such as in the case of food bulking. Sugar has become so cheap

with the invention of corn syrup that many companies now choose to add it into their foods

purely to make their output larger. This does nothing for the nutrition of the food, nor does it do

anything to enhance their flavor in these cases. In fact, according to Jim Laidler, a writer for

Science Based, when corn syrup first came out itwas so much cheaper than

sucrose that it saw extensive use as a sucrose substitute for thickening foods and to help retain

moisture, which goes to show just how freely the food industry uses sugars in its food

production. The addition of sugar to add bulk to foods makes many typically more expensive

dishes some of the cheapest ones in the grocery store as well, which makes many people

gravitate towards buying the sugar stuffed alternatives to real food, particularly those who cant

afford to buy the real foods. Sugar can also be added to enhance the flavor of foods, which can

be ok in small quantities, but the problem with this is that food corporations add in so much

cheap, unhealthy sugars, such as corn syrups, that their product becomes extremely harmful to


The food industry prefers to use corn syrups as its source of sugars because of their low

cost and abundance, but these sugars only add to the unhealthiness of their foods. Corn syrup is
largely fructose based, and as a result most of what is consumed by fructose is converted into fat.

Fructose causes much more than simple fat gains however, and has been directly linked to liver

damage, decrease in brain function, and organ wear over time. The food industry is aware of this

data, yet still go through with adding copious amounts of sugar into their products. This raises

the important question of how exactly these companies are able to get away with so much

overuse of sugars in their foods, and how those buying these foods typically dont have any idea

about the copious quantities of sugar that they contain. To fully understand this, it is necessary

that people first understand how these foods are marketed towards them, along with how aware

the general public is of these issues.

The modern supermarket is full of deceptive tricks designed to keep the consumer fooled

into thinking what theyre eating is healthy. A prime example of this is the label no high

fructose corn syrup, an extremely common sight these days. However, this label simply means

that there is no high fructose corn syrup, essentially meaning that the manufacturers cant say

that it has no corn syrup, because if they could, they would. There are definitely growing stigmas

against corn syrup as more and more people realize its high concentrations in otherwise healthy

foods have a tendency to cause weight gain. Unfortunately, simply avoiding high fructose corn

syrup wont make too much of a difference if they compensate for this by consuming more corn

syrup, and may in fact lead to worse weight gain down the road. Food manufacturers dont care

about these detrimental health effects on their consumers, and instead continue to stick labels

designed to confuse customers into thinking that their product is healthy. Labels such as made

with real cane sugar, bright colors, particularly red and yellow, and calling anything and

everything Natural are but a few examples as to how corporations try to trick consumers into

thinking that what they are selling is good, quality food, when in reality their product is simply
sugar coated in what used to be food under the guise of a healthy choice, as none of the

aforementioned labels or marketing strategies mean anything in reference to their food. To get,

made with real cane sugar, cane sugar doesnt have to be the only sugar used, and in fact this

is almost always not the case. Additionally, sugars can be snuck into foods that no one would

expect them to be added to, such as packaged meats, yogurts, organic cereals, and even salad

dressings. The addition of sugar in these cases is not for taste, however, and the sugars are

instead added to use the aforementioned addictions to sugar to make people buy the company

that is producing the foods product, and only their product. This heavy addition to sugars has

over the years drastically affected human health, and these effects show no sign of stopping

unless consumption of sugars are lowered a lot, and soon.

The average Americans consumption of sugar reached a peak of 422 calories from sugar

a day, and since then hasnt improved much. This figure currently stands at around 363 calories

from sugar (Cohen, 85), a shockingly high number given that the American Heart Association

recommends that people conform to a daily limit of 150 calories from sugar for men, and 100 for

women. This means that Americans are eating two to three times their recommended amounts of

sugar, and this is obvious when looking at the amounts of obesity related diseases in America.

Type Two Diabetes, for example, went from encompassing a mere 2% of the Americas

population in 1973 to now having had infected over 7% of Americans as of 2010. This epidemic

of diabetes outbreaks is growing exponentially, and many fear the results if the sources of this

disease, such as overeating of sugar, are not soon eliminated. Along with Diabetes, Large

amounts of sugar-containing foods lead to obesity in children and adults (Laidler), which can be

linked with many other diseases such as, Type two diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and high

blood pressure (Laidler), the rates of all of which have drastically risen in the past few decades.
Many of these harmful effects have been directly linked to the increase in sugar consumption,

and as a result, it is commonly thought that in order for these diseases to leave, the copious

amounts of added sugars must too leave.

There are many ways that people can stop the continued overuse of sugars in the global

market, and a most commonly pointed at one and sought after one is government action. This

one is decently controversial, as especially in America the idea of the government interfering

with the free market is generally frowned upon, as it is seen as restricting the ideas of capitalism.

However, government interference has seen success in the past in helping the overall american

health, such as in the case of smoking ads, the 1900s crackdown on drugs, and even in this

specific case. In a press release on the Lets Move! initiative by Michelle Obama, former first

lady, she said, I couldnt be more excited by the news that obesity rates for 2-5 year olds

declined by 43% over the last 10 years. Progress of this magnitude can only be explained by the

leadership and hard work we are seeing across this country(Obama), a statement which directly

confirms the success of government intervention into the nation's health in regards to the new

copious amounts of added sugars on American shelves. Ultimately, the government can only

intervene in civilian health so much, as the health of a nation's citizens falls on the citizens to

make proper choices, and the most the government can do is educate its citizens about what is

healthy for them to do. In the end, people have to be the determining factor in how healthy they

will become. People need to be educated enough so that they are able to make healthy choices

for both themselves and those around them. One way that this has already been attempted at is

through government education programs. American schools nationwide are required to teach

health education classes, in which they discuss topics such as drug use, exercise, and, as of much

more recently, healthy eating. Kids are now being taught at an early age just how bad sugar can
be for them, and are learning how to make healthy eating choices. Along with this added health

education, students are also being given access to more nutritious foods in many cafeterias, and

as a result are given cheap and easy access to healthy, non-sugar filled foods at least once a day.

These added systems will not cure the sugar induced disease epidemic overnight, but they are

definitely a step in the right direction.

Sugar is one of the most common substances in todays food, but it is also one of the

most harmful. While sugar is needed to survive, its overuse is very harmful to the global

community, and it is paramount that governments make changes to prevent the many health risks

that come with this overuse of sugar. The global community is not yet where it needs to be

healthwise in terms of diet, but it is moving in the right direction through government initiative,

such as with the Lets Move! initiative. Many more changes have to be made, and the road

ahead is a long one, but if governments and people work together to help stop this crisis, it will

definately be solved within the century. With any luck, those who have read this paper, along

with many more citizens out there, will be able to educate those around them on healthy eating

choices and in turn help to create a healthier and happier global community.