Addiction is a relative term. It is most often associated with popular drugs and alcohol, and in recent years, technology. According to recent findings it seems there has been an addictive substance hiding right beneath our noses, and yes it can come in the form of white powder.
Sugar is everywhere we look. It is in our breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners; fast food and health food alike.
It has many aliases including high fructose corn syrup, regular corn syrup, glucose, sucrose, cane crystals, cane juice, maltose, malt syrup, and dextrose. Even ingredients with healthy connotations like honey, agave, and fruit juice concentrates are still received by the human body as sugar.
Sugar itself is not evil. Like most things, it has its time and place. Many foods important to the human diet contain sugar in their organic state, like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. It is the over consumption of such food, especially processed food that has created such a ruckus in past years.
A recent study executed by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 61 percent of the food Americans eat is processed.
Times magazine explained it further saying that 16 percent of our diet is “moderately processed—still recognizable as its original plant or animal source, but with additives,” and 61 percent of it is “highly processed—multi-ingredient industrial mixtures that are no longer recognizable as their original plant or animal source.”
Altering food from its natural state only serves to deteriorate its nutritional value by either destroying its chemical properties or adding compromising chemicals to it, a.k.a. preservatives.
Sugar, in its many forms, is the cheapest and therefore most common preservative.
As a country focused on ease and efficiency, it is no wondering easy-to-prepare processed foods have become the backbone of our diets and sugar our round bellies.
It has become such a problem a politician in the Netherlands believes government needs to take a role in curbing humanities sugar addiction.
“Just like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is actually a drug,” said Paul van der Velpen, the head of Amsterdam’s health service, in an article for The Telegraph. “There is an important role for government. The use of sugar should be discouraged. And users should be made aware of the dangers.”
Velpen goes on to say that sugar is just as, if not more addictive than smoking.
A study conducted in 2013 by Connecticut College supports his claim. They found that when compared side by side, lab rats became more addicted to Oreo cookies than notorious drugs like cocaine and heroin.
“Health insurers should have to finance addiction therapy for their obese clients,” Velpen said. “Schools would no longer be allowed to sell sweets and soft drinks. Producers of sports drinks that are bursting with sugar should be sued over misleading advertising and so on.”
Velpen also shares a philosophy similar to California’s own state senate when it comes to labeling sugary foods and drinks. Even though the recent soda labeling bill did not pass it seems to have been a pioneer effort in starting a global conversation.