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Oh, sugar

By Tracie Aylmer

Recently I had an interesting conversation with a friend about fruit juice in the major shopping chains. He suggested that there should be fruit stalls for which fruit bought instore could be juiced for a nominal amount. This would reduce the amount of sugar (which is in most packaged fruit juices) and thus be a far more healthier alternative.

It’s a fantastic idea. I wish it could come to fruition.

However, the reality is that these major shopping chains most likely won’t take up the idea. They would probably prefer for sugar – known for its addictive qualities – to remain in fruit juices. And big sellers can provide good profits.

The conversation then turned to sugar. My friend told me that the highest selling product in the major shopping chains was Coca Cola: a product well-known for its sugar content.

Many years ago, I worked on a contract basis for Coca Cola. It is public knowledge the amount of sugar that goes into the products made by Coca Cola. Where I worked, one would just have to hang around on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. On Mondays and Wednesdays a sugar truck as large as an oil tanker offloaded the sugar at the factory. On Fridays, it would be one half the size of an oil tanker.

There has been some talk about sugar the past couple of years. Parliament started talking about finding ways to reduce sugar intake by taxing sugar. For many, it sounded like (and still sounds like) a good idea.

While many know and understand the health risks of sugared products, less is known about the effects of sugar on mental health. Large corporations do not care about the health of their consumers. If they did, they wouldn’t be in business.

What are the health effects on excessive amount of sugar in the diet? An examination of medical and mental health effects become necessary.

Medical effects

Research has noted a number of detrimental effects on quality of life. Some conditions include heart conditions, increased weight gain, diabetes, and tooth decay to name a few. Research that has been conducted over a 15 year period has noted that even a 10% increase in added sugars can increase conditions such as heart disease even with someone who doesn’t appear overweight.

Mental health effects

Not much is noted in today’s media about the psychological effects of increased sugar in one’s diet. It must be confronting to know that one’s diet can cause the types of health effects that could put someone into deep emotional trouble. However, this is exactly what happens.

Added sugar in the diet can cause an increase in anxiety and depression. Sugar is so utterly addictive that it can cause withdrawal symptoms to leave it cold turkey. Turning off added sugar products can cause intense pain for many trying it. Mood swings can happen.

In order for us to counteract the detrimental effects of high sugar products there would need to be education surrounding those products. Of course, many people swear off it, but with the high intake of sugar, it’s obvious that most people simply can’t. Weaning someone off Coca Cola would be like weaning someone off Ice (although Coca Cola is much cheaper and much more readily available, and of course legal). Also, corporations like Coca Cola would prefer to keep people within this status quo. The health of the consumer will never be their concern. Their own profits are their only concern, so pushing the product into the market and advertising the product will be their only agenda. It’s the same with all high sugar products.

The media is, of course, no help at all. Trying to explain to the general population that their high sugar intake – and their love of Coca Cola – is killing them, can be quite difficult.

For me, I have noticed at least two people who used to be in my life that were addicted to Coca Cola. Both had depression. Neither could stop drinking it. Both had medical issues. Both behaved in a similar manner towards the product. They had to buy it, no matter what.

Here the government has a ‘war on drugs’, or ‘terrorist’, or whatever. If they actually wanted a war, perhaps they should be serious about their sugar tax, or whatever other objective they could find in order to reduce sugar intake with our population. As I see it, the corporations are too massive for the government to actually try anything seriously.

We therefore have a major problem. If only the supermarkets were willing to listen to my friend. He could be one of many able to find a solution.



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  1. Johno

    Sugar is in so many food products. Just another massive scam to make money at the detriment of the environment and human health.

  2. wam

    leave sugar alone it is the driver of taste. Even chinese orphans got a spoonful of sugar, as a treat(li cunxin)in warm water once a month. Attack exercise it is the enemy of obesity!

  3. helvityni

    A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, sings someone…

    Too much of it and it makes us overweight, and lately also obese; many a four year old is almost as wide as high, very sad.

    If adults are not willing to save themselves, then at least let’s try and save our children.

    Maybe have some of our health carers going around to schools and teaching the kids about healthy diets.

    What about nation-wide campaigns like we have done re dangers of smoking…

    Our health care systems will not be able to cope with the obesity related problems, we have to do something, NOW.

  4. Freethinker

    helvityni I agree with you but I like to add that at the ridiculous high price of fruit and vegetables it is very hard for many families to have a healthy diet.

  5. helvityni

    Freethinker,I suppose the vegie/fruit prices vary depending on where you live; we have three big supermarkets and a very good fruit market here.

    I frequent the one that sells their very fresh produce the cheapest… 🙂 Also the fruit market has its daily specials…

    Give me a nice home-made lentil soup any day, the take-away sugary floury muck just makes you grave for the next sugar hit, and what’s more it’s more expensive!

  6. Freethinker

    helvityni, we cook and it using the produce that it is season and also we are lucky that we can access fresh produce from farm areas close by.
    I guess that another factor it is education and teach people how to cook and plant the much of they can in their back yards.
    Regarding lentil casserole is one of our favorite foods with sweet potatoes and smoked pork meat.
    To stop the need to have sweet things elaborated with refined sugars one of the best things is to have a good selection of dried fruits.

  7. Freethinker

    This is interesting and in some way agree with my comment about the cost of vegetable and fruits and having a good diet.
    Obesity in children compared with wealthy suburbs in Sydney with the suburbs where working class is more prominent.
    A good reference and a base for a good debate:

    Health Tracker reveals Sydney suburbs with highest rates of obese and overweight children, inactive adults

  8. king1394

    People forget that sugar is an effective preservative, not only in things like jam but also for medicines.
    I have my doubts about the replacement sweeteners that people often choose to help them cut down on sugar intake. Saccharine and aspartame have both been implicated in cancers for example. The darling of the moment, Stevia, a plant extract, seems an improvement, but it should be noted that Stevia in products such as Coca Cola can only substitute for a portion of the sugar – according to Choice, ‘steviol glycosides are often mixed with other substances to provide bulk, or improve taste and texture. This means the low kilojoule and low-GI benefits of stevia can end up being compromised by other added ingredients, including sugar, sugar alcohols, maltodextrin, unspecified “flavourings”, lactose, croscarmellose sodium, sorbic acid, cellulose powder and silicone dioxide ‘

    It seems that a well balanced diet and plenty of exercise may still be the best answer to the various crises in obesity, tooth decay, diabetes etc.

  9. helvityni

    I don’t think the sugar substitutes are any better, it’s best to go cold turkey when it comes to sugar and its substitutes; we still seem to get too much of it even in most breads, they have taken away the ‘scary’ fats, but added sweeteners and more salt…

    I blame all those American food outlets spreading all over the world for the obesity epidemic; get them young and they stay with you…

    I miss those good old Aussie-Greek hamburger joints, real meat, lettuce, onions, toms and beetroot slices on good crisp bread…a meal.

  10. Kronomex

    I stopped drinking soft drinks of all sorts years ago. As an experiment a couple of weeks ago I drank a large glass of Coca Cola and within a couple of minutes I was feeling very sick. Someone said why don’t I drink the zero sugar versions instead. After checking and finding that artificial sweeteners and be anywhere from 150 – 500 times sweeter than sugar…all I can say is, “Hello water, my old friend.” to paraphrase a line from a famous song. If I have chocolate, I buy the 85% and above cocoa dark chocolate. It’s great, although I won’t touch Cadbury Coco Dark. I get nasty headaches every time I’ve eaten that brand.

    Helvityni, I definitely agree about the Aussie-Greek burgers.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Damn. Now I’m craving a yiros from that awesome Greek joint in Glenelg. Have an authentic Greek yiros (with the garlic cream that’s made from garlic, yoghurt and cucumber and whose name I can’t spell) and after that you wouldn’t feed a kebab to your neighbour’s dog. Actually, you wouldn’t even bother buying a kebab.

  12. helvityni

    Knonomex, what you experienced with your large glass of Coca Cola, I experienced something similar whilst having a coffee with a Danish pastry, my occasional treat,and I thought they had made it extra sweet,,, They hadn’t , my tastebuds had been weaned from sugar…

  13. helvityni

    No one makes yiros like the joint ( nothing but a hole in wall) we had in Balmain (inner-city NSW), they were the ‘bestest’ in the whole wide world… 🙂

  14. Sean Stinson

    Thought this was old news. This may be of interest.

  15. wam

    my hockey mate’s dad was the man who brought coke to adelaide So for the 50s I had unlimited coke in those lovely little glass bottle(he still drinks coke every day at every meal)
    I gave coke away for chinotto (still twice a week at the cool spot in fannie bay)when the first coffee lounge open in on o’connell st, north adelaide.
    I remember it as the purple cow but google puts that in with the catacoombs.
    On the way home we walked, just down the street, at the blue and white cafe for a magnificent hamburger toast sandwich(no crappy bun in those days)

  16. Maeve Carney

    Juicing fruit that people bought in the supermarket for them is not a good idea and I hope that it never comes to fruition. The sugar in fruit comes packed in fibre for a reason. The fibre is filling. Not many people will eat 4 apples in one sitting but it takes four apples to make one glass of apple juice and many people will happily drink several glasses of juice in a day. That is a considerably greater amount of sugar than they would get just by eating fruit, minus all the benefits of the fibre. There are no benefits in juice that cannot be found in whole fruit and the whole fruit has more benefits than just its juice. Eat fruit don’t drink it.

  17. nurses1968

    The MP for sugar George Christensen has been off and had “85 per cent of his stomach removed after his own weight reached the “point of no return”.Absolute Beauty Asia said on its Facebook page: “It was an honour and a true pleasure to assist [Mr Christensen.]”

  18. helvityni

    Sean, old news or new news, we have to do something about this obesity epidemic, it helps if governments start doing something; we are not smoking so much anymore, thanks to Labor initiatives, like plain packaging…

    Maeve, good advise.
    nurses 1968, sweet George better be careful not fill the new little tummy with too many sugary things… 🙂

  19. nurses1968

    2 things that struck me this week, a friend sent me two links one for a doco on “American Samoa’s battle against obesity as 95 per cent of the nation are declared overweight” and another an old video clip of young people in the 50s rock n roll and for the life of me in the 50s video I struggled to see an overweight let alone obese person,we sure went wrong

  20. Maeve Carney

    Yes nurses 1968, society certainly went wrong when fat was demonised and sugar given free rein.

  21. Win jeavons

    Too much sloppy thinking about sugar. Yes there is too much added sugar in many tins and packages in the supermarket, but everyone should learn what becomes of all foods we digest. There are many forms of sugar and glucose is fuel for our lives. Fruit, that we are encouraged to eat, starches in grains and some vegetables, what do you think they become after digestion ?

  22. tracieaylmer

    Win jeavons, you can believe what you want.

    I cut sugar out of my diet, other than having it as a treat now and again. It was quite difficult, because nearly everything in the shops has added sugar in it. For this, I looked at the Swedish diet (which once legislated against families having excess sugar in their diets, but now the Swedes do it as common sense).

    I bake my own bread, without sugar. It rises anyway, and is divine to taste. The smell coming from my oven is quite addictive.

    I baked a Swedish rye flatbread, for which I (at this present moment) put boiled egg, feta cheese and tomato on it, for breakfast. There was no sugar in the flatbread recipe.

    I bake desserts using raw honey from farmers markets, instead of sugar.

    Today I will be making pea and ham soup (no sugar).

    For dinner I make my own sauces to my meals. Spices make the meals tasty.

    Cutting sugar out of my diet, I have found that my moods have become much more balanced. My teeth aren’t furry, and are looking great. I have energy. From the look of things, I’m also losing weight, without having to exercise much at all.

    Overall, I’m eating better, which means that I’m feeling better. Sugar really is the problem.

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