As parents, we would never give our young children alcohol, for many reasons.
Two major reasons would be to avoid liver disease and type 2 diabetes, disease which are primarily caused by alcoholism.
In previous generations, these two diseases were something we never saw in children.
Your Child’s Sugar Intake Is Causing Alcoholic Diseases
Today around 30% of children have some form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Type 2 diabetes is approaching the same incidence as type 1 diabetes (which is not related to diet and lifestyle).
How is this possible? Sugar.
Our children are consuming so much sugar they’re now at risk for illnesses which used to only be seen in alcoholic adults.
Be sure to read Are Your Kids Overdosing On Sugar? A Shocking Short Video to learn more about just how much sugar our kids are consuming.
How Can Sugar Cause Liver And Metabolic Diseases?
Sugar and alcohol are metabolised by the liver in almost identical ways. If we think about how alcohol is made from sugar, this isn’t surprising.
What is surprising, however, is we’re seeing so much sugar being consumed that it’s causing the same effects as alcohol.
Having some sugar in our diets isn’t likely to cause serious issues. After all, prior to the 1980s we didn’t see these complications and sugar was being consumed. The problem is sugar is now in every thing!
We drink less water. Instead of brewed tea with a bit of sugar, we grab bottled teas with caramel colour and several tablespoons of sugar. We have sugar in our sauces and dressings.
We eat boxed meals, breads and packaged pastries all with added sugar. Sodas were once the occasional treat while out, now they’re consumed by the litre on a regular basis.
Why Is There So Much Sugar In Our Food?
In past generations, a lot of what we consumed were whole foods and only a small portion was processed. As the food industry grew, so did our consumption of heavily processed foods.
Fresh foods don’t typically need a lot to taste great. When you’re processing and preserving food for packaged meals and treats, added sugar makes up for flavour changes.
We also see a lot of sugar added into low fat products which were once marketed as extremely healthy for us. When we remove fat, which has flavour, something needs to be added to make the taste appealing.
The food industry is massive. They make about 1.4 trillion dollars per year with 45% of that being gross profit. The amount of money made from selling sugar laden foods is extreme.
My Family Eats Healthy, Why Is This A Big Deal?
The overconsumption of sugar affects the economy and the healthcare industry. Type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are public health issues with the high incidence rate of today.
We spend 3.2 trillion dollars on healthcare. Of the money spent on healthcare, 75% of it goes towards chronic illnesses. Of those chronic illnesses, around 75% are preventable.
This means we are spending billions in healthcare due to our unhealthy lifestyles. Our overconsumption of sugar is a major contributing factor when it comes to preventable chronic illness.
If you’re eating healthy, that’s a great step in preventing chronic illness. However, sometimes when we think we’re eating healthy, we aren’t aware of the massive amounts of hidden sugar in our products.
Perhaps we don’t consume soda, but we grab pre-sliced bread without checking the sugar content. We grab salad dressing without realising there’s added sugar. We pack yogurt for our children’s lunches not noticing there’s as much sugar in some flavoured yogurts as a candy bar.
If we as consumers continue to spend in a way that says we demand healthier products, we can continue to slowly make a difference.
As parents, if we are conscious of our children’s sugar intake, we can reduce the risk of our children developing a preventable chronic illness.
Public health concerns should be taken seriously by us as individuals and as a society. We should all be extremely concerned that children are now developing illnesses related to alcoholism long before they’re even old enough to consume alcohol.
How Do We Know Sugar Is The Culprit?
Robert Lustig is a professor of paediatric endocrinology at the University of California at San Francisco. An endocrinologist is a specialist in hormones and how they impact our body, including their impact on how we metabolise foods.