The Sugar Addiction Story

Foodbeast infographic150 pounds per year—that’s how much sugar the average American was eating a few years ago. Or maybe it was 130 pounds, according to a fascinating infographic on this page, a section of which is shown in the illustration. A more recent estimate claims the average per capita consumption could be as much as 170 pounds per year. It is silly to quibble over how accurately the number of pounds is calculated, because even a small fraction of the lowest estimate would still be far too much.

It is not only obesity we should be worrying about—it’s any kind of health problem that occurs due to a weakened immune system, which is most of them. Our white blood cells react to a can of soda by losing as much as half their ability to kill invading bacteria. The post “Sugar Critics Still Going Strong” mentioned Dr. Nancy Appleton, who has continued to compile her list of ills caused by the white drug. For the complete, mind-blowing array, see “How Sugar Affects Your Health—146 Ways,” at a website called “Allergies & Your Gut.” Their motto is, “Good gut health is central to our overall well-being,” a subject which Childhood Obesity News has been exploring.

Our post “Attitudes About Sugar Addiction” spoke of Sugar Addiction Awareness Day, which falls on October 30, the day before Halloween, and not by coincidence. We looked at what causes foods to be hyperpalatable, hedonic, or addictive, and made the following suggestion:

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.”

Sugar, Addiction, and Sugar Addiction” looked at the trickery used in food product labeling, a novelistic description of addiction, a real-life description of a man addicted to soda, and some lab studies with rats.

Sugar’s Addictive Grip” mentioned the lab rats who happily gave up their cocaine addiction for sugar. This post saluted Dr. Douglas Hunt, who diagnosed his own addictive bondage to sugar, and Dr. Theron Randolph, one of the first doctors to declare that addiction is addiction, with pretty much the same mechanism whether the addictor is alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, or sugar.

This fit in with the anecdotal accounts from self-identified, former sugar addicts who realized that when they unhooked from sugar, nicotine cravings also left them. In a cultural framework where cigarette addiction is acknowledged as incredibly difficult to break, this is a meaningful discovery. It was also a significant revelation when someone discovered that naltrexone, a pharmaceutical developed to break opioid and alcohol addiction, also worked on sugar.

Sugar Addicts Speak Up” included a quotation from a doctor who admitted to being a sugar addict, and mentioned a well-known actor who wrote and performed a monologue about breaking his bondage to the substance.

Sugar Addiction Takes More Hits” discussed Laura Singer’s indie film Sweet Nothing: America’s Addiction to Sugar and some of the people who have risked the crackpot label by issuing warnings about the white drug. The post also recalled William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues, who proved to be an early adapter when back in 1975 he called out Coca-Cola as a product with the potential to ruin entire civilizations.

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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.

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