The Dominance of Sugar in the Consumer's Market

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Sugar has become a very predominant ingredient found mostly in all food products today and has been scientifically proven to have affected society negatively in physical and mental health. Thus it can be justified that sugar is indeed influencing our health in both aspects- altering our brain’s biochemical pathways, making us have emotional disturbances and health disorders such as diabetes. The rate at which society is consuming sugar is alarming and this unknown global problem has become a serious factor to the cause of many detrimental health issues. Cocaine, heroin and gambling is no longer the causes to addiction, sugar has been researched to be eight times as addictive as cocaine. This crystalline carbohydrate is becoming lethal to the health of society and there has been no public awareness to this leading global problem. The aim of this research task is to inform the reader about the effects of sugar on a person’s health and how just simply changing a person’s diet can change their life. My aim was to find every aspect sugar influences in our life through the use of a book, documentary, articles, cartoons and a mini questionnaire. Therefore the issue of sugar can be justified to a large extent as being addictive and thus having a global influence on our health.

This statement from Dr Mark Hyman, “Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine,” is alarming and a shock. What does sugar do that can make it so addictive? Sugar alters the brain’s biochemical pathways and when eating sugar a person experiences a rush of dopamine. Sugar boosts the level of addiction by the pleasure and reward neurotransmitter- dopamine, which makes a person feel good. Addiction occurs when the reward system is overstimulated and therefore alters the brains pathways. Thus making a person wanting a reward and looking for a way to increase dopamine levels. However the more a person consumes sugar the more tolerance they have and they no longer receive the same effect of a reward and remain on the same level of satisfaction.

Therefore leading to addiction to get that rush of dopamine. Dopamine is not only released after the satisfaction of consuming sugar, it is released before eating sugar as well. Dopamine is released at the expectation or craving or thought of sugar and creates a ‘high’- neurochemical addiction. After the consumption of sugar, the craving begins again and the vicious cycle is continuous. The signals in the brain that control hunger become overwhelmed and no longer understand the difference between if the body is hungry or not. In some cases some people have genetic variation and the reward pathway has a malfunction and that person will remain unsatisfied, won’t be able to stop, will eat and eat and therefore become obese. The want for sugar can be triggered by a negative or positive effect and food consumed is taken in by two drives in the body- homeostatic and hedonic. The homeostatic drive alerts the body that it physically needs to eat because it needs to be replenished. The hedonic drive is how the body reacts to the external world and is driven by dopamine.

This drive can overrule the homeostatic drive even if the body is not physically hungry. Addictive behaviour involves a cycle of consisting of bingeing, withdrawal, craving and then cross-sensation. Bingeing starts when the dopamine levels spikes and the feeling of pleasure is released and therefore makes a person want to binge even more. Withdrawal occurs when an addicted person has no sugar in take and leads them to shake and have anxiety. Craving begins after the withdrawal/abstinence of sugar and increases over a period of time, the need for sugar becomes intense and the craving for a ‘high’ becomes overwhelming. Cross-sensitisation occurs, to regain that feeling of satisfaction from the release of dopamine, a person may switch to another substance in order to get that ‘high’- alcohol is an example of an alternate substance. From the above analysis it can be seen that, “Sugar is basically a socially acceptable, legal, recreational drug with deadly consequences.” (Source D). Therefore it can be justified to a large extent that sugar is indeed addictive and causing negative effects to society’s mental health and hence a factor to influencing health issues.

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When consuming sugar it enters the bloodstream and to combat the high glucose level, the body releases insulin from the pancreas. Therefore eating a lot of sugar will lead to elevated blood sugar levels and leads to inflammatory response which can cause damage to the body’s veins and arteries. Sugar also effects the hormones in the body and reduces the ability of the body to supress hunger. Thus it interferes with the hormone- leptin, which has a function of telling the body when it’s not hungry and initiates the fat and energy burning mode. Therefore leptin is interfered by the consumption of sugar and alters the signals in the body and can lead to overconsumption. Moreover sugar leads to many negative health issues- diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers, obesity, increased aging, tooth decay, blindness and heart disease. Sugar not only affects the body physically but also causes emotional disturbances- mood swings, depression, anxiety and mostly feelings of meaningless and uselessness in society. In the United Kingdom, sugar is affecting their health negatively in extreme measures, especially in young children. Jamie Oliver, a professional chef, did a documentary on how sugar is effecting society’s lives. He found that 26 000 primary school kids had rotten teeth and were admitted in hospital to remove the infectious teeth. Sugar was the entire reason for these cases and even the diligent cleaning of their teeth could not prevent their overall result. Not only is tooth decay affecting the youth, type 2 diabetes is becoming a global issue for children now as well. In the UK, 3,5 million people have type 2 diabetes and which leading to 130 amputations a week and 7000 amputations in a year (2015).

Diabetes is the leading health issue from the consumption of too much sugar. In some countries like in Mexico, 8 million people are effected by type 2 diabetes and have the highest soda consumption because their quality of drinking water is extremely bad, therefore the Mexicans resort to drinking cheap, sugar loaded drinks. Each Mexican per day is suspected to drink 2l of soda and Coke has become a part of their culture. In 2013, there was 75 000 amputations due to diabetes. Diabetes has effected the world and is becoming a global problem and it is estimated that by 2030, 1/3 of Americans will have diabetes. The Western world’s diet of sugar-saturated food is influencing the world and this statistic of America is shocking and alarming as this is an indication of where the world is heading. All these health issues caused by sugar is resulting in 4 million people globally dying each year and the epidemic of diabetes is 450 million globally. Thus it can be justified to a large extent that sugar is affecting our health globally and is leading to the deaths of many people from the overconsumption of a cheap and lethal ingredient- sugar.

Is advertising and misleading labels promoting the intake of sugar?

There are many different types of sugar- glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose, sucrose and added sugars. Added sugars are detrimental in that it is a flavour enhancer and is added into a product by manufacturers. These sugars are normally found in food and drinks, and if a person doesn’t read a label carefully they can consume a lot of sugar without realising it. In Jamie Oliver’s documentary, a child was put as an experiment in commercial UK shops to see if advertising influences the purchase of sugary food. This experiment found that 70% of purchases were impulsive buys associated with snacks promoted at tills and 90% of the snacks that were at child eye level were unhealthy.

Not only is it exposed physically in shops to promote the purchase of sugary foods but also in commercials. Unhealthy food which are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt are advertised on television up to eleven times an hour! When asked how this is possible, it was argued that parents should exercise discretion and should educate their own children. A great example of promoting sugar consumption is in Mexico. Due to the poor quality of water, Coke took the upper hand and marketed their sugary product in indigenous villages. The billboards naming the indigenous village in the area are being advertised by Coke and new born children to old adults are consuming this health threat. However when questioned about marketing their product Coke responded, “We ensure our brands are marketed responsibly and never to children under 12.” (Source B). However the Mexican government has taken a stand against promoting soda drinks and have a soda tax of 10% on all soda drinks that contain added sugars. Jamie Oliver also introduced this concept into his own restaurants to discourage the consumption of soda drinks which are a leading cause to type 2 diabetes and therefore raising money to create awareness for this global problem. Sugar is unavoidable and is prepared and packaged into foods and is known as the “white-gold” (Source C), because of its economic wealth. Thus changes to try and discourage sugary products are not going to happen any time soon. Although the food industry has included more healthier and natural sugar options such as artificial sweeteners- xylitol, are still leading to obesity and diabetes.

Therefore society is being influenced by the persuasive techniques of advertising and many labels are becoming very misleading in that people don’t consciously recognise the amount of sugar they are consuming. In the UK, a person should only consume 7 teaspoons of sugar daily and drinking a single 330ml can of Coke can already sum up this limit. The daily recommended sugar in take is being exceeded and these outside influences that are promoting sugary food is making the consumer make uninformed choices leading to these global health issues. Therefore it clearly can be seen that advertising and labelling are promoting the consumption of sugar to a large extent and that due to the economic wealth brought in by sugar, the negative effects of it on society are being silenced. To prove the concept that society is not fully informed about the detriments of sugar, I wrote up a mini questionnaire to record the results from a variety of aged people and their personal status.

From the overall analysis it can be justified to a large extent to that sugar does indeed effect the body negatively in physical and mental aspects. The largest detriment is that sugar is addictive and this global problem is not been raised for awareness and is one of the leading causes to many health issues. This epidemic of sugary foods influencing our world through the use of advertising and misleading labels on all food products is causing the rise of type 2 diabetes and resulting in millions of deaths. Consumers are being uninformed of their choices they make when consuming food and manufactured products are cheaper and more convenient. Thus society purchases these products which contain hidden sugars and increase their chances of the negative health effects of consuming too much sugar. Sugar is majorly influencing our superpowers, America and the UK, and the results of sugar intake are shocking and leading the world to becoming influenced by the western world’s bad food choices. Sugar is a widely used ingredient and it is impossible to stop consuming this crystalline carbohydrate completely, however society must resort to having a balanced diet and follow the food pyramid to create for themselves a healthy lifestyle. Hence it can be justified that sugar does have a bad influence in society. The limitations of this research task is that I have only researched the negative effects of sugar on the body and the bad influences it has on society. This research task is also limited in that both articles I retrieved from the internet are not written by doctors, dieticians or professionals that have the scientific knowledge of the effects of sugar, thus the authors are only journalists. However my main source of information I retrieved is from a book which is written with a dietician and has foreword by Professor Tim Noakes. I thoroughly enjoyed researching about the effects of sugar, I found it extremely intriguing and highly educational.

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