How sugar affects our health

Our nation’s sweet tooth is under the spotlight as politicians and experts desperately search for a fix to Britain’s obesity problems.

With one in four of the adult population classed as obese, Britain has been dubbed the ‘fat man of Europe’. While fatty, processed fast foods have long been highlighted as being bad for us, there’s now a big drive to cut the amount of sugar we consume too.

SugarThe scientific advisory committee on nutrition spoke out this summer to suggest that just five per cent of our daily calories should come from sugar. At the moment that figure is more than double for many of us.

At the time Professor Ian Macdonald, chair of the working group of the committee, said: “The evidence is stark – too much sugar is harmful to health and we all need to cut back. The clear and consistent link between a high-sugar diet and conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes is the wake-up call we need to rethink our diet.

“Cut down on sugars, increase fibre and we’ll all have a better chance of living longer, healthier lives.”

It’s pretty clear, therefore, that a link is being drawn between sugar and obesity. Yet this is far from the only health risk posed from sugar – and not the sole reason that it now finds itself in the firing line from health experts.

Teeth

Any child who has ever done the infamous ‘tooth in a glass of cola’ experiment will be aware of the most blatant way in which sugar can impact upon our health – by causing our teeth to decay.

Youthful

We’d all like to cling on to our youthful looks for as long as possible and keep Mother Nature at bay. A high sugar intake does not help with this, though. Our skin can suffer from excess sugar intake, losing its elasticity.

Poor balance

As atkins.com stresses, those people who consume the most sugar tend to have the worst array of nutrients in their system. By consuming calories with the quick fix of sugar you’re likely to neglect the variety of elements your body needs to function healthily. This need for a balance is becoming a more mainstream pursuit as people turn to supplements to top up vitamins that they struggle to consume with their diet – but sugar is a big barrier to many people mastering this.

Mood

Sugar can have an effect on your mental wellbeing too. If your blood sugar levels are unstable you might find yourself having mood swings, feeling tired and just craving more sugar all of the time. None of these things contribute to a calm and happy day.

Sugar tax?

The combined impact of obesity, dental hygiene, skincare, a balanced diet and mental wellbeing are lining up to make a compelling case against sugar. What happens next is, however, up for debate. Many campaigners favour a sugar tax of 20% to try to deter excess consumption and this will be debated as the Government works on a new health strategy.

It’s important to remember, of course, that sugar is still an important part of a balanced diet – just not as large a part as it currently is for many people.

Article by Patrick Vernon  for Fysiqal Nutrition

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