Is Sugar the New Tobacco?

Here’s some exciting news about the amount of hidden sugar in our food and drink that is the source of many health problems: a new global campaign based in England has been launched to alert consumers to the startlingly high sugar content of processed foods and drinks and to persuade the food industry to reduce those sugar levels by 20 to 30 percent in the next three to five years.

What does tobacco have to do with it? In launching new campaign, “Action on Sugar”, one of the participating health experts pronounced hidden sugar a “public health hazard” while another came up with the apt headline-making phrase “sugar is the new tobacco”. Action on Sugar’s goal is to halt the worldwide epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes and all their associated health problems. The group believes that if food manufacturers can be persuaded to make the suggested reductions in the amount of added sugar in their products the effect would be to cut the amount of sugar in the typical diet by 100 calories per day, enough to stop or even reverse the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics and all the diseases these two conditions promote.

Predictably, food industry representatives in England denied that sugar is responsible for the obesity epidemic.

What’s So Bad about Sugar?

As far as I’m concerned, Action on Sugar is long overdue. If you’ve read my book “The Omni Diet” (now available in paperback), you know the toxic effects sugar can have on your health:

  • It raises blood sugar
  • It causes rapid releases of insulin
  • It is full of empty calories
  • It feeds cancer cells

And as most of us have known since we were kids, sugar is also bad for teeth. A brand new study from Britain’s Newcastle University commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that cutting sugar calories in the diet by half of what the WHO now recommends would have the effect of minimizing the risk of cavities throughout life. The current WHO guidelines urge limiting sugar consumption to 10 percent of daily calories. If the organization adopts new guidelines based on the Newcastle study, ideally sugar consumption would be reduced to five percent of daily calories. However, the depressing fact is that in the U.S. both adults and youngsters routinely get more than 10 percent of their daily calories from sugar. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) men in this country consume 12.7 percent of daily calories from sugar, while women consume 13.2 percent of their daily calories from sugar. Worse, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that children and teenagers get about 16 percent of their daily calories from sugar. Sugar really is a public health hazard!

On the Omni Diet I ask you to eliminate all the sugar in your diet including amounts from processed foods and drinks and the sugar that you add to foods in cooking or when drinking coffee, tea or other beverages. When you make this change, you’ll miss sugar. But hang on. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your taste will change – only a matter of days. Then you’ll find that you’re tasting foods in a whole new way, and you’ll rediscover the joy of eating.

And you’ll find that taking personal action on sugar goes a long way toward making the Omni Diet a success.

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