Q1- “Sugar is the new tobacco” is a slogan that was featured on sugar sachets. Do you think it’s fair to compare sugar with tobacco in terms of its negative impact on one’s well-being?
The excessive added sugar intake can be compared to the consumption of tobacco to be more precise.
Consuming added sugar with great amounts can impose several risk factors such as obesity which can lead to diabetes, heart diseases, liver and kidney damage and some cancers as well.
An important study discovered a great link between excessive consumption of sugar and dying from cardiovascular disease, mainly heart disease. During the study, participants whom their sugar intake made up to 21% of their calories where more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to those whom their added sugar intake made up only 8% of their calories.
Excessive sugar intake is a real issue and a danger to one’s well-being.
Q2- How do you explain the scale of this problem?
Excessive sugar consumption specifically added sugar, can cause obesity which can lead to diabetes, which is a global health problem. It’s more evident in the UAE as 16.3% of the adult population are suffering from diabetes, which is proved that the main cause is consuming a diet rich in sugary foods.
On the other hand, sugar imposes further risk factors not only on the health and wellbeing of the individuals, but it is also has a negative impact on the environment due to the widespread use of agrochemicals which contaminates the water and causes air pollution; and as a result, wildlife, soil, air, water, and downstream ecosystems all suffer.
Q3- You’ve stressed on the danger of “added sugar” during this interview. Can you explain the different types of sugar?
There are 3 main types, refined sugar, which is the most used and known form of sugar, natural sugar, which you can find in food in the form of Glucose or Fructose. Lastly, non-nutritive artificial sweeteners.
Sugar is an ingredient that generates energy through converting carbs into glucose in one’s body. The danger that sugar imposes can be understood if we looked at how it was manufactured, what chemicals were involved and by monitoring the intake quantity.
Sugar beets are processed to extract sugar and make refined sugar. Sucrose, a compound made up of glucose and fructose, is the most known form of refined sugar. During this process, sugar loses most of its beneficial nutrients and fibers. This is the form of sugar that most of us use during our daily routine.
Natural sweeteners are the sugars that you can find in fruits and various kinds of food. Glucose and fructose, which you can find in fruits, are the main two types of natural sweeteners. Natural sweeteners are good for the health and impose less harmful effect on one’s body, however, maintaining a moderate consumption dosage is still mandatory to avoid gaining weight.
On the other hand, artificial sweeteners are the non-nutritive sweeteners. Many were motivated to use artificial sweeteners as it contains less calories and imposes less negative side effects, however, considering that artificial sweeteners are sugars that are chemically modified, there are serious consequences of consuming artificial sweeteners including increased appetite, cancer risks, gut health and can cause headaches.
In addition to that, artificial sweeteners do not include any nutrition and therefore, does not yield any positive health effect on the body if compared to natural sugars.
Q4- Taking in consideration that sugar is an important component of most of our food. How do we avoid the risks that sugar imposes on our health?
One must monitor their sugar intake and make better food choices.
Studies showed that each person shouldn’t exceed consuming more than 10% of his or her total calories from added sugar, and it’s preferable to consume less than that.
It’s also important to note that sugar exists in many products, including sugar-sweetened beverages, yogurt, food sauces and many more, therefore, I encourage everyone to choose their food in a conscious manner and limit the consumption of sugar in their diet.
The good news is that scientists and researchers are trying to find a healthy substitution for sugar that can be easily used in various food products and be beneficial for one’s well-being and health.