There is a killer lurking in our midst. It lies in wait to pounce from under wrappers, to slink out from plastic bottles. You crave it in your teeth. Americans are being harmed from the inside out. The epidemic? Sugar addiction.
Sugar addiction is a real thing, folks. The bodily reaction to consuming sugar can surpass cocaine reward, leading to a drug-like addiction. Being mindful of how much sugar one eats can be difficult. We need to be considerate of what we’re eating and how much we eat.
There is no percent daily value for sugar on food labels, so it can be difficult to know if you’re consuming too much for a 2,000-calorie diet. On average, Americans consume almost 270 calories each day of the recommended limit of 200 calories from added sugar. Each gram of sugar is four calories, so this means 50 grams is the max.
Cutting off sugar can be difficult with how prevalent it is in the most available foods and beverages. A report in the medical journal Diabetes Care found that 75 percent of all foods and beverages contain added sugar. In America, it can feel like sugar is everywhere but also hidden, unspoken of. We need to discuss sugar intake and the vast amount of it we consume on a daily basis.
A 1.69-ounce bag of M&M’s has 30 grams of sugar. A 16-fluid-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola has 52 grams. Two Strawberry Pop-Tarts have 30 grams. These are foods and beverages commonly found in on-campus vending machines.
Coming from someone who struggles with a constant sweet tooth, this addiction can be very difficult to tackle — but it’s needed. Sugar has been linked to obesity, which has been linked to the development of certain types of cancer. Eating too much sugar can also cause type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular problems such as heart disease. Sugar addiction is a hidden epidemic that needs to be addressed.
The UT community can be mindful of the amount of sugar in food available on campus. Many restaurants and dining halls have nutritional information available so people can pick low-sugar options. Also knowing how much sugar you want to eat in a day is helpful. Everyone has different diets and calorie intake options.
UT can also work on adding more low-sugar options, such as diet and zero-sugar sodas in vending machines across campus. Dining halls can dedicate days of the week to promoting low-sugar foods and have brochures on recommended healthy nutritional intake. UT has a responsibility to its community to maintain any health concerns, including that of what we eat.
Reducing sugar intake and fighting the urge to satisfy that sweet tooth can be understandably difficult, but small, everyday steps toward being more considerate of what we eat will make a major difference.
Rose is an English sophomore from The Woodlands.