added sugars in the diet - a threat to people's health
I am looking for peer review on my Eng. 102 research paper. I didn't copy my works cited page in the essay, but have it for anyone who may need it.
A famous animated movie shows a world where everyone is obese, lounging in chairs, watching television, walking is no longer encouraged, and sugar-filled drinks and foods are in arms reach. But what if it is reality and it is not even noticed? The added sugar in the standard American diet is causing a plethora of medical problems and consumers may not even know what they are eating. Added sugar is found in most foods available in the supermarket today, even foods that consumers would not expect. A walk down any frozen food aisle in the grocery store and a glance at the ingredients list of any of the healthy options available will likely have added sugar, or more likely added sugar in disguise under one of its lesser known aliases such as dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, and fructose to name a few. Americans need to remove added sugars from their diets to decrease obesity, metabolic disorders, and other medical issues.
Some of the foods that contain added sugar would surprise many consumers, for example, gravy, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, rolls, and even some meats are among that list. A single walk around the Thanksgiving dinner table has more than double the recommended amount of daily sugar from the American Heart Association. Until they are faced with needing to learn, many people do not know what is on their food labels, and they are not sure how to read them accurately. Sugar is broken down into two categories on the label now, one category for total sugars and one category for added sugars. That was not always the case since it was not a requirement to identify added sugars on food labels until 2000. To further deceive consumers, manufacturers can add multiple variations of added sugar under different names to avoid having the added sugar identified higher on the ingredient list, which is required to be organized by the weight of each item listed in order of greatest amount to least.
When carbohydrates are eaten, glucose is absorbed from the food into the blood stream and the body uses it as energy regardless of the complexity or simplicity, and a healthy body will release insulin which will essentially escort the glucose away and bring the sugar levels back to normal (How the body metabolizes sugar, par. 3). However, when carbohydrates are eaten in excess, that extra glucose is stored in the body as either glycogen, which acts as storage for energy reserves, or lipid in the fat tissue, which is body fat (How the body metabolizes sugar, par. 4). When eating fruits, honey, or most root vegetables, the body is consuming fructose. The liver acts as a filter for fructose and turns fructose to either glucose or fat and can also store the glucose as glycogen, for later use, or fat (How the body metabolizes sugar, par. 4). Consuming fructose in excess can lead to Fatty Liver Disease, increase chances for diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease (How the body metabolizes sugar, par. 4). When consumed within the recommended amounts of the American Heart Association, which for men is no more than nine teaspoons a day, and for women it is no more than six teaspoons a day.
One of the largest health issues facing Americans directly related to added sugars is diabetes. Hospitals have seen a significant increase in patients dealing with diabetes, 95% of which deal with type 2 diabetes, which is preventable in many cases. As excess sugar is available, the rates of cases of diabetes increases (Bunim, par. 9). "For every 150 calories of sugar available per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes in the population rose one percent, even after controlling for obesity, physical activity, other types of calories, and a number of economic and social variables (Bunim, par. 8)." Additionally, excessive consumption of fructose causes the liver to store fat, which increases insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic Syndrome, while not a disease itself, is a combination of any two or more conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood glucose, or high blood fats, and is often accompanied by insulin-resistance and fatty liver disease. "Abdominal obesity is a major risk factor for Metabolic Syndrome because abdominal fat produces pro-inflammatory chemicals and predisposes people towards insulin resistance" (What is metabolic syndrome... par. 5). Metabolic Syndrome is a cycle that if not broken can cause irreparable damage to the body.
One of the organs that is most impacted by the consumption of added sugar is the liver. The liver is taxed excessively processing the extra sugar and it causes additional issues. Non-alcoholic Fatty liver disease is fat on the liver, but without the usual accompaniment of other sources and is the most common cause of chronic liver damage in western countries. This is a relatively new disease, as this was not even diagnosed 30 years ago. Fatty Liver Disease occurs typically in middle-aged, overweight, or obese individuals. The way the body processes fructose mirrors the way the body processes alcohol, and causes similar damage to the liver, and the brain. One of the biggest ways to combat Fatty Liver Disease are perhaps the most sensible, and that is to reduce visceral fat, or excessive consumption of sugar.
If excessive consumption of sugar is creating al of these diseases, the question is begged whether people can give up sugar easily. Is it addictive? There is some debate in the medical worlds on whether sugar should be categorized as an addiction. Sugar does in fact cause the same response in the brain that illicit drugs do; however, because of the way certain foods are processed, with the requirement of sugar, it is difficult to classify it as an addiction (Sanborn, par. 8). Yet, on the other hand, a study performed by the University of Bordeaux in France, rats that were addicted to cocaine preferred the sugar reward over the illicit substance, so while the complete avoidance of sugar is almost undoable, the cravings for it cannot be denied (Candy vs. Cocaine, par. 2). If sugar can cause that kind of reaction in the brain, and in the medical study, it likely would be difficult to end eating it excessively.
If the consumption of sugar is more like the consumption of cocaine, what has been done about the fight against sugar, just as the fight against drugs battles cocaine? In fact, nothing. A study completed by Cristin Kearns "revealed the sugar industry's decades-long strategy to downplay sweeteners' potentially harmful health effects. She found strong evidence that the industry had manipulated the science to protect the commercial interests, influence regulations, and shape public opinion" (Kavanaugh, page 8). Kearns' study is a surprising turn of events during which she uncovered hundreds of pages supporting her findings. Medical science has proven that excess sugar is damaging, and yet nothing is being done, and steps were in fact taken to prove otherwise.
The amount of damage that occurs as a result of excessive sugar consumption was another piece of Kearns' findings, and again they show that blind eyes were all around. "By the mid-1960s, however, researchers had begun wondering whether sugar might be related to heart disease. The Sugar Research Foundation paid three Harvard scientists today's equivalent of $50,000 to review the existing research on sugar, fat, and heart disease. Their analysis, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), minimized the link between sugar and heart health and promote fat as the culprit instead" (Kavanaugh, page 8). Furthermore, the leaders of the sugar companies, Kraft, Pillsbury, Mars, Nabisco, General Mills and others, were well aware of this same issue as long ago as 1999. They had a meeting together to discuss the then-up-and-coming obesity problem America was facing, only to balk and place the blame on Americans. According to Michael Moss, Americans are not to blame, well, not fully:
It's not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort - taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles - to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. (Moss, par. 15)
To combat not only the sugar industry and their focus on profits, but the health issues added sugar causes, and to regain a healthy momentum, Americans need to stop first stop consuming the extra sugar. Following that, an overhaul needs to be done to those same foods and remove the extra sugar. The demand needs to be nearly unanimous from the general population. After the initial shock to the body from eliminating added sugars, energy levels increase, a person generally sleeps better, skin clears up, and they have fewer cravings for sweets (Cutting out sugar, par. 10 and 11). Increasing energy levels will allow for increased physical activity such as walking or other exercise causing a decrease in belly fat, which is also linked to heart disease and liver disease. With less belly fat, there are fewer health risks for cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome. Additionally, by removing the excess sugar, Americans will see a decrease in Alzheimer's and certain types of cancers, which can be linked to added sugar in the diet (Cutting out sugar, par. 9).
The American diet should have natural sugar and complex carbohydrates in it as not all are bad. The carbohydrates that should be consumed should be whole grain or complex, and the sugars should be natural. In fact, your brain and body require carbohydrates to thrive. It is the over-indulging that causes problems. Additionally, going without either carbohydrates or fats always puts the body into a state of imbalance and depletion (Trim Healthy Mama, page 14). Natural sugar can be found in fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes. The natural sugar in fruits carries the benefits of fiber and vitamins. It should be noted that even an abundance of these complex carbohydrates and natural sugars will cause health and weight issues.
Removing added sugar from foods is not something that will be done quickly and quietly. Americans in fact have a war ahead of them if their health is something they want to take seriously. But there is hope. Just like in that famous animated movie where obesity is the only way of human life known, it only takes a spark to start a revolution and make the changes necessary.