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If Sugar Is As Addictive As Cocaine, Do We All Need Rehab?

By Danielle Sullivan |

sugar addiction, sugar as addictive as cocaine, too much sugar, sugar diabetes heart disease, mom health

Can you kick the sugar addiction alone?

It’s been well established that Americans have way too much sugar in our diets. With adult and child obesity at an all time high, it’s not simply a matter of choice or preference anymore; it’s a major health concern.

Back in the 70s when fat was seen as the major culprit toward good, healthy eating, many manufacturers took the fat out of the food and replaced it with sugar. So now thirty years later, not only are the typical foods, like desserts and snack foods filled with sugar, but items such as bread, yogurt and peanut butter are also laden with it.

One doctor says that sugar addiction can be so strong, we may need rehab to overcome it. California-based endocrinologist, Dr. Robert Lustig said he thinks America needs to go to rehab for sugar addiction. Furthermore, he told CBS News “60 Minutes” that he believes that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Like cocaine and other drugs, sugar can actually cause a euphoric feeling “that triggers dopamine, the chemical that controls pleasure in the brain.”

Besides diabetes, over-consumption of sugar has been linked to stroke, heart disease, breast and colon cancer. Lustig recommends that men should consume “no more than 150 calories of added sugars a day. And women, just 100 calories”, which could literally be a slice of bread or a cup of coffee. The NY Daily News reports that average America eats a third of a pound of sugar every day, which totals 130 pounds a year.

Lustig explains why our food supply is so jam-packed with sugar:

“Take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard. And the food industry knew that. So they replaced it with sugar.”

It’s nothing but ironic that in our modern world where everything is vamped up so we can go about our lives faster, quicker, and more efficiently, that the best way to eat healthfully is to simply buy the pure staples (such as fruit, veggies, meat and flour, cornstarch, baking items for breads and carb based foods) and cook our food from scratch. It’s really the only way to know what your family is eating. Yes, we have made strides and there are many more organic  (yet higher priced) versions of food than there ever was before, but that is a definite minority in most supermarkets across the country.

Do you consume more than 100 calories of sugar per day? Do your kids? Does your family need a sugar rehab?

Image: iStock

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About Danielle Sullivan


Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan writes for Babble Pets. She is also an award-winning parenting writer, who authors a monthly column for NY Parenting and ASPCA Parents blog. You can read more of her work at her blog,Some Puppy To Love. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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4 thoughts on “If Sugar Is As Addictive As Cocaine, Do We All Need Rehab?

  1. The Mommy Psychologist says:

    My son doesn’t need rehab. I’m super diligent about his diet. I, on the other hand, am a completely different story. I am SO addicted to sugar. It is unbelievable. I actually go through physical withdrawals when I give it up.

    “The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself.”

  2. Mamanonymous says:

    Yes! We need rehab and we’re in it. Well, doing it ourselves as best as we can. The Lustig interview on 60 Minutes really made an impact with us. My take:

  3. bob says:

    Someone should tell the junkies, because they’re wasting a lot of money.

  4. Gayle Jennings says:

    My husband, two kids and I all have normal BMI’s, eat a variety of foods and lead active lifestyles. We enjoy foods and drinks with sugar, but we definitely don’t need “sugar rehab.” Truth is, it’s unrealistic to focus on one ingredient as the cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and so forth. When the focus is strictly on sugar, we ignore other changes in society that have led to the obesity epidemic, like overconsumption of total calories and a decline in activity. Further, comparing sugar to cocaine or regulating sugar is an unfortunately missing the seriousness of drug use. As a dietitian, the message I share with clients, from individuals to companies like Coke, is “variety and moderation.” In that, a various foods/drinks can fit in ones diet; the key is proper portions. So, let’s leave the government regulation of sugar out of our kitchens and opt to choose more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean proteins.

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