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Some like it in its brilliant-white crystal form, taken with a spoon. Others prefer it less refined, in its ‘purer’ state. While more, perhaps the majority in the world, prefer to ingest it, refined, into the bloodstream via a straw.

It’s a global addiction that has been going on largely unchecked for centuries. Yet it appears that individuals and governments alike are finally realising the error of their ways, initiating a fightback against this potentially damaging substance that has been marketed with a smile whilst being fed to us in huge doses.

A nice perico, without sugar, La Perseverancia, Bogotá, Colombia.

Leave the sugar out of it if you can at all …

Yes, the war on sugar appears to be entering a new, potentially pulverising phase. Indeed, some experts in the field are comparing today’s ‘battle against the sugar bowl’ with last century’s brave stand against nicotine — that is to say taking on the powerful tobacco industry, a fight that continues across the globe.

Of course inhaling cigarette smoke isn’t an essential part of living, so preventing people from engaging in such a practice in the first place, or at least limiting the frequency, is the best form of attack.

However, we all have to eat and drink to survive. This is where the war on sugar gets tricky. For one, sugar, in the general sense, is found in all fruit and vegetables we consume, an important energy source helping to keep our bodies active and alive. As for any chemical in the body, it’s a case of getting the balance right. With sugar, doing just that has become nigh on impossible for many these days.

The problem is the ‘packaged’ diet. That is to say, not preparing what you consume from its crudest form. If you’re cooking vegetables or eating fruit from scratch, you control the additional flavours to make them that bit tastier. The same goes for cereals such as oats and wheat. Yet, in the world of ‘just add milk’ breakfast cereals as well as prepared fruit products like smoothies and even ready-made meals, there tends to be uncalled for amounts of additional sugar.

Kellogg's Facebook.

A ‘healthy’ sugar explosion … (Photo from Facebook.)

‘And whaddya know?!’ Sugar has been proven to have addictive properties, so if food/beverage companies pump enough of it into their products, they’re on to a winner. It isn’t for nothing Kellogg’s Frosties’ Tony the Tiger says ‘They’re grrreat’. Great for business perhaps, not for your health though.

Then you have the soft-drink industry — arguably the worst of the lot for ‘sugar crimes’. A recent study from Massachusetts-based Tufts University found that one in every 100 deaths from obesity-related diseases is caused by sugar-sweetened drinks. In other words, 184,000 deaths across the globe every year have now been linked to this type of beverage.

The research found that this is a particular problem in low- and middle-income countries, such as here in Colombia and in Mexico. Venezuela didn’t feature in the report, but having just visited there, it appears they have a strong love affair with the sugar-laden refrescante. A significant reason, maybe, for the, um, huge obesity problem the country seems to have.

Another angle to all of this is the sugar-fat mix. Studies suggest that when you get this combination in food, as you do in many processed products, especially in the confectionery industry, the body has a hard time figuring out when it’s eaten enough. One explanation, then, as to why people gorge out on chocolate and the like.

The cliche advice for such things is ‘everything in moderation’. That holds for sugar, too. As stated, it’s a good energy source for our bodies. The snag is the ‘moderation’ part. Unnecessary amounts of it are practically in our faces every minute of every day. As with illegal narcotics, it’s a case of ‘just say no’. Actually putting that into practice is the difficult part.
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor Irlandés, quien ha estado viviendo en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y cultura, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-colombia-cast.

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  1. It’s always gonna be easier to win the war on drugs or even alcohol. Sugar is an essential part of life. Mostly anyone can spend a day or two without having a beer and some people might be able to do the same without getting high. But all of us cannot resist that sweet white crystallized powder. Heck, I cannot imagine my morning tinto without sugar. No cream though!

    • beforechrist

      For sure, the key is moderation, considering, as mentioned in the piece, sugar is in our faces all the time. As adults we can probably do that better. The biggest problem is with young children, who practically become addicted to their sugar high from an early age and consume it to dangerously high levels.

  2. Brendan: I’m sorry to have two consistent mistakes in your text, both of the same kind. Here you are:
    ‘Some like it in it’s brilliant-white crystal form…’
    ‘…what you consume from it’s crudest form. ‘.

    It’s a mistake to use an apostrophe for the possesive “its”. I hope you can correct both these errors or remember this comment for the future.

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