Sugar Rush: A Manifesto

Is bigger really better? We as a society think so. How else would you explain the increase in average soda size from 7 oz to 28 oz and the numerous commercials that try to outsell their competitors by providing the consumers larger quantities? We have all heard of the obesity epidemic that’s sweeping across the nation right now and it frightens me to think that my generation would be the first generation to live shorter lives than our parents. Of course many of us will blame this epidemic on the fast food chains, but we easily ignore the fact that we as individuals are responsible for what we put in our own body. It’s undeniable that fast food producers cut the corner by subsidizing real ingredients for processed food but it’s the only way to keep prices low while producing at mass quantities. We all know that fast food will cause health problems but we might be drinking our way to obesity in this era. An average American drinks 44.7 gallons of soda a year and that’s not including energy drinks or other sugared drinks. 44.7 gallons is equivalent to 375 pounds of fat and we need to realize there’s a consequence for every decision we make. In physics, we learned that for every action there is a reaction and that applies to food also. It’s time for America to be educated so we can all take responsibly for our own sake because after all, we owe it to ourselves.

You are a sugar addict. You may not realize it, but you are. Sugar is one of the detrimental foods we take in and they come in all forms and shapes and the most common form of sugar nowadays is high fructose corn syrup. In a scene from the movie King Corn, the main characters Curt and Ian took a look through all the labels in the supermarket and rarely found anything that does not have corn in it. Most of the corns we produce now are either fed to animals, which are for our consumption, or turned into high fructose corn syrup. It’s alarming to see every packaged food in the market to have such high contents of high fructose corn syrup and government subsidies is the reason why farmers grow so much corn. According to King Corn, ” in the last 15 years, taxpayers paid corn farmers more than $77 billion and 10% of America’s farmers collect more than 75% subsidies.” As proven in the movie, farmers actually lose money when they plant corn but the government makes up for the loss and gives them extra money so corn is the most profitable crop to grow. This directly affects our health because as Ian and Curt stated “Since the late 1970s, the real price of fruits and vegetables increased by 30%, while prices for soft drinks decreased by 34%” and what this means is sugary drinks such as soda and energy drinks are much easier to get access to and buy than real good wholesome foods. The government should be helping us the people to live better and longer lives but instead, their subsidies have indirectly contributed to our obesity crisis.

The sugar addiction is a newly developing research because it wasn’t until recent years that sugar became an issue. According Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist from University of California, San Francisco, sugar activates the same regions in the brain as drugs like cocaine and marijuana. Sugar triggers dopamine in the brain and it makes the body feel good so you’ll go back for more and therefore, heavy sugar eaters develop a tolerance for sugar which means they’ll need more and more to feel the same affect. In an interview with CBS News, Dr. Robert Lustig says “We love it(sugar). We go out of our way to find it. I think one of the reasons evolutionary is because there is no food stuff on the planet that has fructose that is poisonous to you. It is all good. So when you taste something that’s sweet, it’s an evolutionary Darwinian signal that this is a safe food.” The interview revealed how sugar evolved from an indication of edible food to something that is seriously causing detrimental health problems to us. If you would like to read about the interview, click here.

When I was in grade school, I didn’t particularly like going to the grocery store but I didn’t hate it either because I would always manage to sneak in a candy bar at the checkout line. It’s not until now that I realize that there are always candy next to the check out in grocery stores and Saturday morning commercials are constantly playing junk food ads. I am the generation that grew up on those commercials and it’s been ingrained in my head that Nesquik chocolate milk is good for my bones and Capri sun is the drink for champions. However, I failed to realize a bag of Capri sun is just a bag of high fructose corn syrup mixed with water and there are 18 grams of sugar hidden in that little pouch. Nesquik may build me strong bones but it’ll probably cause me obesity before my bones fall apart. In a 16 oz bottle, there is 58 grams of sugar, equaling to more than a day’s worth of the recommended amount. These corporations have targeted specifically towards young children and no wonder our childhood obesity rate have tripled in the past 30 years and more than 1 in 3 children are overweight and obese. If you have a younger sibling or if you are a babysitter, take the kid to the park on Saturday morning or just get outside instead of sitting on the couch at home because those little things will make all the difference.

A typical non-diabetic person should not exceed consuming more than 32 grams of sugar a day not including the sugar in fruits and whole grains. That seems like a fair share to calm your inner cravings, but not in the modern world we live in today. I observed the beverage choices in the dining hall during lunch rush hour and found that only 1 in 5 people drank water while the others drank some kind of sugary beverages. We all know that sodas contains a lot of sugar but most of the population and the students don’t realize is that the “healthier” alternatives such as iced tea, Gatorade/Powerade, chocolate milk and even fruit juice are just as unhealthy. We’ll first examine some statistics of soda so we can make comparisons later on in our observation. A typical Coca Cola 12 oz can contains 39 grams of sugar and a bottle of 20 oz Mountain Dew contains 77 grams of sugar, so if you ever think that one can of Coke doesn’t count, think again. Now, if you think like how I used to think, you would think that juices are much healthier so you fool yourself by switching to drinking juice instead of soda. I used to think I was doing myself a favor by drinking juice because they are supposedly better but a cup of 16 oz Minute Maid orange juice contains 48 grams of sugar and a 16 oz of Langers apple juice contains 52 grams of sugar. Just by drinking a cup of orange juice for breakfast in the dining hall will put you over the limit of the recommended amount of sugar you should intake so think again before filling your cup with that orange juice.

Ultimately, we have to recognize that we have a problem with sugar overdose and it’s our responsibility to take care of our own body. It’s urgent that we be aware of what we drinking on top of our food. Most people ignore the calories and the ingredients in their drinks and that’s what makes the problem of sugar over consumption such a big problem. So next time you’re eating at the caf or out, think again before you fill your cup up with anything that’s not water.

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