Sweet, sweet food!

It is 2014 and reports are coming in daily on obesity. As we walk down the street, a kid comes walking around the corner. You look at the kid and he is obese, fat. You might even chuckle for yourself as the kid looks like someone taken out of a cartoon. Seconds later you see their parent following around that same corner; also obese. You add up the thoughts and quickly understand that the child is obese because of a poor diet inherited from its parents. A lump in your stomach arises.

Not so funny anymore.

A lot of us would need to lower our intake of soda, candy, ice cream and pastries, which contain a lot of sugar but little nutrition. If you eat a lot of of this, it is difficult to make room for nutritious foods that provide enough vitamins and minerals, but that you also get in more energy than you spend. Especially sweet drinks increase the risk of obesity because they provide a lot of energy but no satiety.

A child's hand picking candy

Credit: Stephanie Frey

How to define it?

Sugar is a generic name for several different types. It occurs naturally in, for example, fruit and milk. Sucrose, what we commonly call sugar when it is used to sweeten various foods, composed of glucose and fructose. In food, suger is added as an ingredient in numerous labels such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, honey, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) or isoglucose.


There are no health benefits from eating it. Glucose on the other hand is needed for our brain to function correctly. But because the carbohydrates in the form of, for example starch in potato and bread, can be broken down to glucose in the body there is no need to eat sugar.

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How much is healthy to eat?

Besides soda and candy there are added sugar in many products that you might not think of as particularly sweet, as orange juice and corn flakes.


It is recommended to not exceed 10 percent of the energy from food from added sugars. It is noticeable that this is not found naturally in the raw ingredients. For adults, this corresponds to approximately 50-75 grams per day, depending on how much energy you need.

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Reduce your intake

For example try to reduce your intake of food like

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Cookies
  • Pastries

This might seem easy but it takes effort, as sugar is highly addictive. It normally takes 30 days for a human to change a behavior and about two weeks to get rid of a deep addiction.

Several studies show that adults who begin eating more gain weight, while those who cut down on it reduce weight. The effect on the body weight depends on the changed overall energy level. Beverages sweetened with sugar increases the risk of obesity in children.

Research shows that sweetened beverages to increase probability of type 2 diabetes in adults. The risk increases when drinking about 0.8 liters per week on average.

There are several possible reasons for drinks sweetened with sugar to increase development of type 2 diabetes. Partly is it related to an increased risk of developing obesity. Drinks affect satiety less than the same amount of calories from food, making it easy to get in too much energy (calories). A high-energy intake increases the risk of overweight and obesity, which in turn are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

"High fructose corn syrup", which is usually in beverages in the United States, is a mixture of fructose and glucose, often in the same proportions as sucrose. High fructose corn syrup is therefore no better or worse than regular sugar.