Nearly every processed food (which accounts for ninety percent of what Americans eat) includes added sugar or artificial sweetener in one form or another, whether it’s granulated sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, aspartame, or any one of a multitude of others. A comprehensive study of the effects of global over-consumption of sugar sponsored by Credit Suisse declared that:
“30%–40% of healthcare expenditures in the USA go to help address issues that are closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar.” (1)
The total annual healthcare costs related to sugar-caused disease is approximately $1,000,000,000,000—that’s one trillion dollars. Conditions that are known to be linked to sugar consumption include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Tooth decay
- Neurological degeneration
- Autoimmune diseases
- Metabolic syndrome
Sugar is known to be addictive.(2)
When we eat it—especially in a refined state—the body immediately uses what little it needs for energy and stores the rest as fat. When sugar is burned, many free radicals are produced, causing cell oxidation and damage—even to the DNA level.
Addiction to sugar (which is often unconscious) leads to overeating, taxing your organs to process more food than they need; when cells are full, as it were, they secrete insulin resistors (telling your blood, “stop! We don’t need any more!). Insulin resistance leads to diabetes and other serious conditions.
Excess fat in the body has a total metabolic effect, leading to obesity and often to cancer.
Cancer causes one in eight of all deaths in the world and has been termed a “global pandemic” by the American Cancer Society, having increased significantly since 1990.(3, 4)
In the context of cancer, obesity is estimated to be responsible for half a million new cases each year.
Of total worldwide incidences of cancer, almost two thirds are in North America and Europe. A German study into the costs of healthcare in that country concluded:
“Sugars were found to pose the highest burden for the health care system, with direct costs at €8.6 billion, followed by salt at €5.3 billion and saturated fatty acids at €2.9 billion. According to the researchers, the substantial impact of sugar consumption found in the study was mainly due to the costs of treating caries and other diseases of the hard tissue of teeth, hypertensive and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, rectal and colon cancer, as well as chronic kidney disease.”(5)
Keeping in mind the prevalence of sugar in processed foods, its addictive traits, and the costs of its consequences, it should then come as no surprise to learn that the U.S. government subsidizes corn and sugar production. (6)
“Despite the rhetoric of ‘preserving the family farm,’ the vast majority of farmers do not benefit from federal farm subsidy programs and most of the subsidies go to the largest and most financially secure farm operations. Small commodity farmers qualify for a mere pittance, while producers of meat, fruits, [sic] and vegetables are almost completely left out of the subsidy game.” (7)
The government sells raw materials to subsidized farmers at less than its cost so the big producers can then sell in enormous volume at less cost, thereby promoting and encouraging farming of these commodities. How does the government obtain money for these subsidies? Through income taxes.
Corn subsidies are important to mention because high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the most pernicious processed sweetener and is derived from corn. It is not, however, a natural sugar due to its processing and is as foreign to your body as other artificial sweeteners such as sucralose. It is the sweetener of choice in most sodas, in itself representing a $65 billion industry. This would explain why BigSoda has spent over $100 million to defeat public health initiatives. (8) A University of Texas study published earlier this year identified sucrose and HFCS responsible for breast tumors and metastasis.(9)
One might think that taxpayers’ money is better spent on growing FOOD rather than an additive that makes them very sick. To put things in perspective, consider this from a U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund paper entitled Apples to Twinkies:
“If these agricultural subsidies went directly to consumers to allow them to purchase food, each of America’s 144 million taxpayers would be given $7.36 to spend on junk food and 11 cents with which to buy apples each year—enough to buy 19 Twinkies but less than a quarter of one Red Delicious apple apiece.” (10)
Outraged yet? It’s still a market economy.
That means simple supply and demand. Sugar producers and manufacturers of artificial sweeteners don’t have a market if people don’t buy what they sell. For your health, wean off the sugar addiction: read labels on packaged foods for sugar content, both the ingredients list and the Daily Value chart. Your body doesn’t need any added sugar and tastes can change—if you so choose. Opt for real food.