Sugar Consumption: Does the Type of Sugar Matter?

Picture a human being, roughly five-foot, nine-inches tall, weighing in at 152 pounds. Now imagine that same human being, made of nothing but sugar.

Sound ridiculous? Well it’s the amount of sugar each American consumes in one year’s time.

Our nation’s sweet tooth has been blamed for everything from obesity to heart disease to outright dental disintegration. A recent court case in a New York federal court attempted to pin actual blame on the manufacturers of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), claiming the substance was a direct cause in the plaintiff’s type II diabetes. 

While the court dismissed the suit and awarded no damages, the case highlights a perceived difference in “sugars” as consumers understand it: Is our 152-pound-a-year habit made up of HFCS or “natural” sugar?

Andy Briscoe, president and CEO of The Sugar Association, has recently made impassioned pleas in more than one publication, claiming that the increase of diseases and disorders associated with the generalized term “sugar” has actually corresponded with a marked decrease in the consumption of natural sugar (sucrose, found in sugar beets and sugar cane).

Briscoe stops short of blatantly blaming HFCS for the various health crises, but rather asserts that it’s unfair for natural sugar to be (if you’ll pardon the pun) lumped in with man-made sweeteners.

Most experts agree, however, that the answer to the health problem, regardless of the specific chemical makeup of the sweeteners involved, is moderation. Portion control and self-discipline can go a long way towards improving health, and instilling these values into our children can have long-lasting benefits for the generations yet to come.

Leave a Reply