In reviewing the Childhood Obesity News posts concerned with sugar, we suggested that the discovery of how to extract and refine sugar from plants might be the cultural equivalent of humankind’s discovery of how to obliterate itself with nuclear weapons. Both have inspired a lot of controversy and caused a lot of deaths. Equally regrettable is the fact that both radioactive weaponry and refined sugar have been responsible for making many human lives unproductive and miserable because of the illnesses they cause.
In a post titled “How Addictive is Sugar?” we mentioned a website called My Addiction, which lists almost 30 known addictions. Sugar is in its own category on the site, not even included with the rest of food. We mentioned addiction specialist Dr. Joel Rice, who calls sugar “the most commonly used white drug,” and says that it is the most prevalent addictor of all. He also predicts that 85 percent of the American population will be overweight by 2030.
“Sugar Junkies Out Themselves” discussed the social acceptability of sugar addiction. It is the substance abuse problem to which most people most readily admit. In fact, talking about one’s pathological dependence on sweets is, in some circles, considered pretty darn cute. We also talked about how difficult it is to eliminate sugar from one’s diet, because it appears in almost every variety of processed food. It appears in nearly three-quarters of packaged foodstuffs under 60 different aliases. What on earth is it doing in ketchup? What is it doing in salad dressing? In bran cereal? Only the manufacturers know.
“The Gateway Drug: Sugar, Part 1” introduced Dr. Frank Lipman, who pointed out that most people don’t believe sugar is addictive, and certainly deny that they are personally addicted to it—until they try to quit. Then, the veil of illusion is torn away and the ugly truth becomes apparent. Dr. Lipman comes right out and says it: “Sugar is the first addiction for almost everyone with addictions later in life.”
When doing painful things to babies, medical professionals sometimes use sugar as an analgesic. The only good thing that can be said for that is that it’s probably slightly better than morphine. For more information on the problems that result from such an early introduction, readers are referred to Dr. Pretlow’s guest post on the Fooducate website, titled “Food Supplements and Childhood Obesity.”
A lot of suffering stems from the fact that children learn very young that the answer to pain, anxiety, and other experiences is a substance. Specifically, a sweet substance. As they grow a little older, sugary treats are what they often get in lieu of parental attention, and as a reward for good behavior or as a bribe to circumvent bad behavior. Going forward, the body’s natural fondness for sweetness is reinforced by adding the emotional layers that pile up when a treat is used as a substitute for other things.
In the sequel to that post we further explored the idea that the much-discussed “gateway drug” posited by some addiction specialists is actually sugar. One consequence of this relationship is that, as Dr. Mark Hyman says, alcoholics tend to recover only from alcohol, but not from sugar, whose only advantage is that it is legal.
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Image by Andy Zeigert