Lethally sweet: UK and global health is at stake as the world’s most powerful sugar barons capitalise on every drop in insulin.
Cold weather is likely to make more people susceptible to diabetes this winter in the UK and worldwide, as sugar intake is set to soar, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns.
How much sugar we have in our tea, coffee or hot chocolate can determine our life spans. This is not a killjoy statement: latest statistics on diabetes will send shivers down everyone’s spines.
According to the latest WHO Media factsheets/fs312/ published this November: ‘The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014[…]’.
Diabetes is believed to be a major cause of nerve damage, blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
It is a lapalissade to say that health is the most important thing in life. But it appears to be belied by as an obvious truth when it comes to the global health/sugar industry ratio.
If sugar does more harm than good, why is sugar still tax free? Sugar taxability is a very sensitive issue, almost untouchable, one may say.
Sugar is a commodity in the UK and worldwide: its price is set in big international markets.
It is believed that the Florida-based Fanjul Brothers, most well-known for being sugar barons, are currently the ones making the rules, and even WHO doesn’t dare curb those rules.
The multibillionaire Fanjul Brothers fled Cuba to settle in Florida after Fidel Castro’s revolution and have made a fortune through growing and marketing sugar since. They have also allegedly made their wealth by funding politicians regardless of their political party as well as bribing scientists to forge statements over the danger of sugar in our daily intake.
It is little surprise that WHO once allegedly amended its statement over the health-threatening danger of sugar consumption, after the sugar industry threatened to cut its funding.
As Guardian Health editor Sarah Boseley wrote in her article ‘Sugar industry threatens to scupper WHO’: ‘The Sugar Association, together with six other big food industry groups, has also written to US Health Secretary Tommy Thompson asking him to use his influence to get the WHO report withdrawn.’
Craving for sugary foods in the UK and worldwide is a habitual aspect of the festive season: as the end of year approaches, we swop our salads and fruit bowls for mince pies, cookies, fizzy drinks, chocolates, pastries and cakes of all sorts.
WHO describes diabetes as ‘a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels’.
The last insulin drop is in the hands of the world’s must powerful sugar barons because even if we have control over the amount of sugar we put in our tea, coffee, cakes, what about the refined sugar contained in the whole range of genetically modified foods we purchase in supermarkets?
Genetically modified food such as breakfast cereals, dry fruits, pasta sauces, frozen meals, canned fruits and vegetables, to list a few, are high in refined sugar. But the sad news is that the food industry is more concerned about making money than promoting public health.
With their aggressive advertisements and marketing campaigns, food companies usually leave the consumers with very little knowledge and thus awareness of the danger of refined sugars in their ingredients.
Why do we become more addicted to sugar during cold weather?
According to nutritionists, in winter, with less sunlight and less exercise, most people crave sugary foods to help deal with low seasonal moods.
Carbohydrate-rich food consumption then triggers blood sugar levels to spike, raising blood insulin levels.
When this happens, the amino acid tryptophan travels up to our brains, where it is converted to serotonin —a brain chemical that makes enhances our mood.
It is little surprise that ice cream makes us feel more content. Ice cream contains a lot of added sugar, plus milk –a natural source of tryptophan. Together, these properties lead to a great release of serotonin to relieve stress and make us feel happier.
The sad news is that diabetes was once a much rarer condition until the world became addicted to sugar.
Who is to blame? Arguably, the sugar industry has been even more successful than the tobacco industry.
We often express our love and appreciation to offspring by unknowingly offering them poisonous treats such as sweets, candy, cake, chocolates, doughnuts, cookies, as a reward for good behaviour or achievement.
The link between sugar and illness was first spotted in 1913 by an American physician of Harvard Medical School, Frederick Madison Allen (1879–1964).
Madison Allen worked seven days a week for years before he discovered that insulin could extend the lives of diabetes patients.
He concluded that ‘diabetes incidence was greatest among the races and the classes of society that consume [the] most sugar.’
He also theorised that restricted calorie intake and engaging in regular exercise would prolong the life of insulin, producing beta cells.
Invisible sugar in genetically modified food
Did you know more than 60 per cent of a Slimfast drink is made up of sugar?
Latest reports on the Statistics Portal website show that sugar production, thus consumption, has increased worldwide from 2009/2010 with a forecast for 2017/18 in a million metric tons: ‘Approximately 170.81 million metric tons of sugars were produced in total worldwide.’
Our modern addiction to sugar is killing us, and it may be too late to stop it if we do not make a radical change on our daily sugar intake.
Driving, tobacco, alcohol and gambling are taxed. Why not refined sugar? The answer is in the hands of lawmakers and food standards agencies.
Also, it is crucial for lawmakers, food agencies, regulators, governments and sugar barons to find a compromise and come up with an acceptable landmark agreement on tackling excessive sugar intake for the world’s population so that it can grow and age healthily.