Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Latest On Sugar Consumption - Why This Should Make You Mad!

What the average American consumes in sugar each day!

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Choosing Twinkies Over Health
One reason I prefer to spend my time blogging and writing my book rather than have individual nutrition clients is that many people frustrate me. I've met so many individuals who are really sick, overweight, constantly fatigued and leading restricted lives and yet they show little interest in turning that around. The overwhelming majority of illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes, and yes, even the big C, can be prevented and treated just by changing your lifestyle. I am perplexed by people who would prefer to suffer with diabetes or face bypass surgery rather than eat a healthy diet and exercise. Is it really easier to take 15 expensive medications each day, give yourself insulin injections or have your chest sawed open than to prepare the delicious recipes in this blog and go out and walk for 30 minutes a day? Like I said, I'm perplexed.

New Data
I'm writing today because I discovered some startling data last week about sugar consumption. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released, for the first time ever, information on the consumption of sugary beverages. By the way, health officials say you should limit consumption of sugary beverages to less than 1/2 can per day. I ask, why don't they recommend NEVER consuming this garbage? Sugary beverages are linked to the obesity epidemic and numerous related medical problems!
Here are some statistics they presented:
* Half of all Americans drink a sugary beverage each day.
* 5 % drink 4 cans per day.
* Males drink more than females.
* Teenage boys drink the most. The average 12-19 year old drinks around 2 cans per day.
* Blacks consume more than any other ethnic group.
* Low income people drink more than the more affluent.
Sweetened teas and flavored milks, etc. were not even counted as sugary beverages in this data so the picture is even worse than this.

The Sugar doesn't End There!
An article in the October, 2011 Prevention magazine states that the average American consumes 35 teaspoons of sugar a day. That's almost 12 tablespoons or 3/4 of a cup or 1/3 pound of sugar! This added sugar from processed food is in addition to sugar that is found naturally in fruits, milk, vegetables and grains.

Where It's Hiding
Sugar has many names so when you read a label, you may not realize it's in there. Some common forms of sugar found in food are barley malt, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, corn sugar, date sugar, dextran, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maltose, molasses, turbinado, etc. Check out the list of 50 Names for Sugar You May Not Know.

Does your office celebrate Junk Food Friday?

Why Don't People Care?
The other day my cousin (whom I know takes very good care of herself) facebooked a picture from her office titled, "Junk Food Friday". Rather than the responses saying something like, "Gosh, what crap!" or "Are you being held hostage in a Twinkie factory", people responded to her post with comments like, "Are you hiring?", "Looks like my kind of place!", and "Wow, what a fun place to work!". 
This could be anyone's office as so many are filled with candy bowls, the Friday donuts, the toxic vending machines and all the other things that sabotage our efforts to eat better, to be as healthy as we can be and to prevent illness and premature death. People not only eat poorly but they feel compelled to flaunt their attitudes on unhealthy eating and encourage all to join in! Local fairs even award prizes for the most unhealthy vendor cuisine. Fried Coke anyone? 

Why this should make you Mad!
Why should we care what other people do? If we can resist all this temptation (we usually don't), how does it affect us?
Remember back when people smoked in offices and restaurants. Besides being annoying, we now know that second hand smoke was killing us too. Well, obviously there's no "second hand" sugar danger, but what is happening is that the growth in sugar consumption and the resulting spike in illness is bankrupting our health care system and driving insurance rates off the charts. The Associated Press reported that Medicare will be bankrupt by 2024, 5 years earlier than last year's estimate. So even though many may take a "live and let live" attitude about what others do, our ability to get quality health care is being greatly diminished by those who are not taking good care of themselves.  

Change the Tone
So instead of bonding with your colleagues over twinkies, join together for lunchtime walks or share healthy recipes. Warning, there are lots of people out there who will think a day without a donut is like a day without sunshine. Like I said, I'm perplexed.


Sandy said...

I hear ya! Completely agree. So frustrating, isn't it? To watch all of this junk food consumption going on around us, people celebrating it... and America gets fatter and sicker by the minute.

rachel said...

i'm in australia and i'm frustrated and concerned too. there are so many factors that affect people and their eating's not even enough to know the dangers...if people don't want to change they will find any excuse they want to continue to eat crap until they get a big enough health scare to force them to change and even then people don't change and end up in a worse state. it's lack of education (government fault) and too many corporate interests who would lose a whole bunch of money if people knew how much damage is being done to their health by consuming products that are marketed and advertised so beautifully. i could go on but all i can do right now is help my family to eat well and to educate my children so that when their friends tell them that they had fast food for dinner they are able to say for themselves that it's not healthy. thanks for blogging :-)

Marcia said...

I have relatives that fit into that category.

I am reading "Good Calories, Bad Calories" right now, and it's very eye-opening. Especially when you look at the statistics of sugar consumption now and 100 years or so ago!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Yes it's pretty remarkable how people's eating habits have changed. It's reflected in how sick they have become!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

You're right. If we can at least get our own family down the correct path, it's a great service! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hi ~ I'm in NZ and we are on the same path. It infuriates me that so many people are causing such havoc in the "illness" system through their bad lifestyle choices. I think those who choose this way of life (eating badly, smoking, not exercising, etc) should not have undue access to taxpayer-funded health care for these sorts of lifestyle-related problems. They should be required to have their own insurance and be held accountable. People who do take care of themselves and need medical assistance go to the bottom of the heap and end up having to pay for private treatment. It sometimes makes me livid. This may seem harsh to some but sometimes I just need to vent. :-)

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

I agree Robin. People who neglect their health should pay higher premiums for their health insurance and shoulder the burden for their care. I have spent a lifetime taking care of myself and my husband and I, who almost never even go to an allopathic physician, have to pay over $800 per month for health insurance. It's crazy!
Thanks for venting. I'm right there with you!