Sugar: Delightful or Deadly?

Sugar: Delightful or Deadly?

Kaymi Soderberg, Student Contributor

Imagine a world where there is an intoxicating substance in over half of everything we eat.
A world where research has shown that this imaginary substance is influential in causing
conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease, to name a few;
however, manufacturers still include it in most food products and the general population continues
to buy it in excess for the rush of pleasure and delicious taste it provides. If people would stop
consuming exorbitant amounts of this product, it would drastically improve the health and well
being of the population as a whole, but for some reason, people refuse. How would it feel to live in
such a world? Now, pay attention, for this is our world, and the aforementioned substance is none
other than sugar.
Sugar. That intoxicating, delicious, and highly dangerous ingredient that is found in most
regularly eaten foods. Professor and Ph.D. Barry M Popkin and Ph.D. Corinna Hawkes stated in a
very detailed study, “74% of products in the US food supply contain caloric or low-calorie
sweeteners, or both.” This fact wouldn’t be a problem if sugar produced positive effects on our
health, but it doesn’t; herein lies the problem. Sugar is found in most things that humans regularly
consume and it produces multiple adverse consequences to human health.
When speaking about diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and
Alzheimer’s disease, bestselling author and researcher Gary Taubes writes, “Put simply: without

[sugar and high-fructose corn syrup] in our diets, [this] cluster of related illnesses would be far less
common than it is today; likewise other disorders that associate with these illnesses, among them
polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), rheumatoid arthritis, gout, varicose veins, asthma, and
inflammatory bowel disease.” This doesn’t even touch on the mental benefits of not eating sugar,
but still provides quite a lengthy list of diseases and conditions that are common today and would
not be without society’s apparent obsession with constantly consuming some form of sugar.
It seems that, although sugar consumption has been shown to be a serious detriment to
human health, people are intoxicated by, and even addicted to, the pleasure felt from its exquisite
sweetness. Bestselling author, journalist, and researcher Michael Pollan described his son’s first
experience eating sugar: “I have only the testimony of Isaac’s face to go by (that, and his fierceness
to repeat the experience), but it was plain that his first encounter with sugar had intoxicated him –
was in fact an ecstasy, in the literal sense of that word. That is, he was beside himself with the
pleasure of it, no longer here with me in space and time in quite the same way he had been just a
moment before. Between bites, Isaac gazed up at me in amazement (he was on my lap, and I was
delivering the ambrosial forkfuls to his gaping mouth) as if to exclaim, ‘Your world contains this?
From this day forward I shall dedicate my life to it.’” Pollan observed what many in the world
seem unable to understand, that sugar is indeed intoxicating, maybe even addicting. As such,
without our conscious effort, it has the potential to dominate our diets much more than it already
has.
This is the world we live in. A world of sugar, a world of disease, a world of intoxication.
But it doesn’t have to be. The only reason sugar is dominant in our society is because we let it be.
Though it will be difficult if not impossible to completely eradicate sugar, we can still chip away at
its monopoly by minimizing the sugar that we consume. One by one, we can make the world a
healthier and stronger place. One by one, we can make a difference.