Podcast produced and presented by Lee Millam
“A chocolate hug”. That’s how one person we talked to describes her ‘addiction’ to sugar and chocolate.
Sugar is everywhere. It is added to virtually all processed foods from pizza and curry sauces to soups, and fishcakes.
The average person in the UK eats the equivalent of 15 teaspoons a day (that’s probably an underestimate as few people are honest about their sugar intake)- but the recommended level is no more than 6 teaspoons per person per day. We crave chocolate and other sweet things.
And it has had a huge impact on our health and our health services. Not only is it very bad for our teeth (Queen Elizabeth 1 had black teeth from eating too much sugar), but it is a major contributor to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
In this podcast Lee Millam talks to Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute who says we are not exactly ‘addicted’ to sugar, but rather, we are habituated to sugar. We now expect it in our food. “You get used to a lot of sugar in things and your sugar taste receptors get suppressed and you then prefer more and more sugar.”
So why are we consuming so much sugar? Professor MacGregor points the finger at the food industry. The food industry, he says, is feeding us rubbishy, cheap, tasteless food, and making it more attractive by adding sugar, salt and palm oil – all of which are very bad for us. Sugar is a cheap additive, it bulks up the food and makes us crave it. The industry is good at marketing cheap foods to poor communities, including children in poor communities, and the result is high rates of obesity and diabetes. And now, he says, they are planning on moving into India and China and Vietnam to sell this ‘rubbish food’.
So what is to be done? Professor MacGregor dismisses the idea of promoting healthy eating, and says we have to ban products with high sugar content (and high levels of saturated fat and salt). And all of us, individually, must avoid eating biscuits, and confectionery and give up drinking soft drinks and fruit juice.
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Photo, Lips Like Sugar AJC