Is Sugar the New Tobacco?

Is sugar the next tobacco?

I saw a tweet the other day that stopped me in my tracks. I’ll go ahead and admit it – I have a sweet tooth. And my favorite food is cake. But despite the occasional splurge on cookies and pack of peanut m&ms, I try to stay relatively healthy. So when I saw someone tweet that sugar is the new tobacco my eyebrows shot up and I tried to tell myself, “STEP AWAY FROM THE CUPCAKE.”

And then I realized that is easier said than done.

Which is why I’m beginning to think there’s even more truth to that person’s statement.

Dang it.

The Woes of Tobacco

We’re headed into the year 2013 which means that by now, all of us pretty much know and can agree on the dangers of tobacco. It’s not a hidden secret anymore – smoking is bad for you. And if we still don’t get it – legislators are ensuring that we do by mandating that cigarette companies use graphics depicting the dangers of smoking on packaging and branding. Tobacco leads to many adverse health conditions and death, with lung cancer and emphysema being the heavy hitters. And the hardest thing about the ‘wacky tobaccy’ is that once you start, it’s hard to stop. Just like it’s not all that easy to put down the Snickers bar, either.

The American Sugar Addiction

It’s no secret that Americans have a weight problem – and that the obesity epidemic is growing. One CDC survey that reviewed U.S. high school students in 2010-2011 found that 15.20% of the students were overweight. We celebrate holidays with candy. We wish happy birthday with cake. We stop by Sonic for 99-cent happy hour drinks. And when we’re tired and don’t want to make dinner, we drive thru for greasy, high fructose corn syrup-laden fast food burgers and treats. No wonder we’re getting bigger.

Our food and our diets are full of sugar. And although some might think sugar cannot be likened to tobacco, just watch one episode of Biggest Loser and you’ll see why those temptation challenges are a downfall for many. It’s not all that easy to stop eating sugar, even when you know all of the reasons not to in your head.

Facing addictions head-on

An addiction to tobacco has led to alarming rates of disease and cancer. And some are saying that our addiction to sugar and tendency to add fructose to many processed foods is creating the next health crisis. Obesity rates, diabetes and heart disease continue to soar… as do medical premiums, sick leave and surgeries. What a headache for workplace wellness initiatives geared toward keeping employees healthy.

No, sugar might not come packaged with grotesque images showing you the dangers of overconsumption. And there’s not an age restriction on who can buy a lollipop. But if things don’t turn around … it’s looking like maybe there should be. With the path we are on, there’s soon not going to be anything sweet about having sweet tooth.


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  1. I’m trying to treat sugar like the new tobacco this year and watching what I eat! Interesting post!

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