Maverick Life

Food Justice


How sugar became a substance of abuse

Six year old Kenya Lord reaches up to a scale model of the Tate Modern made of sugar cubes at Bankside on June 29, 2010 in London, England. The model was made using 80,000 sugar cubes. The chimney is 1 metre high. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

From the mid-20th century, the US’s Sugar Research Foundation launched an all-out offensive in defence of sugar, financing hundreds of studies that presented it in a favourable light. Now some of the latest research sheds light on how bad sugar is for weight gain, diabetes, dental health and so much more.

“We are in an era – almost unique in world history – when in the United States, and a certain few other favoured countries, there is more food available than people can eat. Each food industry has to get up and fight for its place in the limited human stomach… It is for these reasons that I am unhappy about advertising which implies that sugar is in some unique sense the cause of obesity.”

That era was the early fifties and the person talking at the eighth general meeting of the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists, in Denver, Colorado, was 52-year-old Dr Henry Bohn Hass, a specialist in organic chemistry who would in 1969 be awarded the gold medal of the American Institute of Chemists.

Almost seven decades ago, as food industries fought for their “place in the limited human stomach”, it was (sort of) decided that the dietary villain would be fat, while sugar would emerge as a kinder fuel for the body thanks to ‘studies’ backed-by-the-then-newly-formed Sugar Research Foundation.

In this film, ‘For the love of sugar’, we explore how added sugar slowly but surely made its way into our food, what effects it has on the body, and why is it so addictive. DM/ ML


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  • Everything in moderation! This includes sugar, oxygen, fat and exercise! Attacking one of them simply imbalances the others which can be really dangerous!
    Marketing is the true criminal in this regard because it promotes bias and encourages excess?

  • The main problem with sugar is that it has an early foot in the door – when a child grows. Often parents give it to children innocently to reward them or to calm them down. Alcohol and other addictive substances are normally introduced later in life.

  • Unbelievable! Sugar is attacked and labelled as dangerous to our health. At the same time, we legitimise the use of tobacco and marijuana. Parents are exposing their children to these dangerously addictive substances too, together with the abuse of alcohol. I agree with Andrew – proper education regarding the health benefits of a balanced diet should be taught in schools and clinics across the country.

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