Attitudes About Sugar Addiction

SAAD 3 posters

October 30 is Sugar Addiction Awareness Day, so this is pretty much going to be Sugar Week. You are invited to absorb what it’s all about, at, and then follow along for a sick-making ride through food addiction hell. And this might be a good time to print out the free posters (in PDF format, see illustration above), to give the kids a few days to get used to the concept:

This House Not Haunted by Junk Food
Sugar-Free Halloween House
Treats, Not Sweets

Some foods can be addictive, and they share some characteristics. They are “hyperpalatable” or “more-ish,” or “hedonic” foods whose purpose has more to do with sensual experience than with nutrition. And there is nothing wrong with that, up to a point. Hedonic foods usually contain sugar and/or salt and/or fat and/or exotically named additives. There is plenty wrong with that. Another thing that ersatz foodlike substances have in common is, they are highly processed and often dangerously refined (like cocaine.)

Foods are addictive to varying degrees and in different ways. Sugar fills every known definition of “addictive.” Broccoli, not so much. There are all kinds of foods in between, irresistible to different people in different ways. There is a whole field of study concentrating on the links between intolerance, allergy, and addiction.

Some people hoard cheese sandwiches, hiding them all over the house to make sure they are never caught short without a cheese sandwich. But a chocolate addict has no interest in cheese sandwiches. People are different in their susceptibility to addiction and in their substances of choice.

Also, they have different values and political considerations. Some believe that any attempt to curb an American’s access to potentially addictive substances is an intolerable incursion on personal freedom. Some believe that prohibitive legislation is the only way to save us from ourselves. Sugar’s detractors are labeled as crackpots by the majority of Americans.

The thing is, no matter how one feels about it or believes ought to be done about it, there is such a condition as sugar addiction, and one of the problems with it is, the stuff is impossible to avoid. Sugar is entrenched. Its presence everywhere is seen or felt as a natural phenomenon, no more amenable to influence than the weather. The “visions of sugarplums” meme is irrevocably embedded in our culture. The inability of children to resist sweets is one of the bedrock beliefs that we so much take for granted, there is no point in revisiting it. And that’s always a bad sign.

If you find it difficult to get excited about the sugar addiction problem, try a thought experiment. Read the labels on every food item in your kitchen, and whenever you encounter one of the many terms for sugar, mentally substitute the word “methamphetamine.”

When you see an advertisement for a soft drink, visualize the 10 teaspoons of meth in it. On Valentine’s Day, when you give your loved one a heart-shaped box of candy, pause for a moment to consider that every piece contains ketamine. When your kid goes out trick-or-treating, the neighbors toss little packets of heroin into his or her plastic pumpkin. When a relative gives your child an Easter basket, it’s full of opium. Run those mental movies a few times and see how you feel about it then.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Welcome to Sugar Addiction Awareness Day!,”, 10/11
Image of SAAD 3 Posters, used under Fair Use: Reporting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources