History of Sugar Addiction in American Pop Culture
by Alex Cosper (5/9/15)

A common question consumers have been asking themselves for several years now revolves around sugar: is it really that bad for you? Most of us were introduced to sugar at a very young age as a reward for good behavior. Then for bad behavior it was taken away from us. But what's the truth about sugar? In the 21st century there have been many reports that it has been linked to serious deadly diseases such as cancer, type II diabetes and heart disease. Can sugar actually kill people?

Why People Love Sugar

Americans have not always been addicted to sugar like they have been the past century. It's easy to believe that sugar is safe since it's everywhere we turn. It's even hidden it tons of food we don't even consider sweet, such as pasta sauce, ketchup and canned foods. Whether it's fake sugar or real sugar, many people love its sweet taste without thinking too much about the consequences. After all, it's legal, just like alcohol, so it can't be too bad, right?

People obviously love sugar because of its taste and immediate euphoric effects. But what many people forget is that this sense of euphoria is only short-lived and that afterward, sugar takes a toll on the body that many not be evident to the conscious mind. Sugar is also adored as a popular gift, especially on major holidays such as Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. It's part of a long tradition that's very difficult for most people to question since these days appear every year on every calendar.

Some of the most catchy pop tunes like "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies or "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard make it seem like a fun safe product, but is it really? The answer from many prominent health experts is that, yes, sugar is very bad for your system, unless it comes from organic fruits.

What Sugar Does to the Brain

From a biological perspective, sugar unleashes a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This chemical stimulates the pleasure centers that send out feel good signals throughout the body. On a conscious level, there doesn't seem to be a problem with sugar. The feeling that sugar produces is similar to a carnival atmosphere.

How Chocolate Became Mass Produced

During this era large scale chocolate production began to emerge following a patent for powdered chocolate secured by Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten.

What Sugar Does to the Body

If you were to analyze your own body under a microscope after eating a candy bar or pop tart, you might be stunned at what happens. It might even scare you into reconsidering your participation in the process of being an addicted sugar consumer who answers the call of mass marketing. Sugar actually robs your body of oxygen in cells. That's a problem that mirrors how cancer develops. Some researchers view it as the same process.

Priorities of the Sugar Industry

Even though the Sugar Association began documenting the possible links between sugar and diseases in the early sixties, it paid more attention to marketing diet sodas and food that supposedly promoted weight loss. By the early seventies Congress and the USDA looked into studies that pointed to a clear link between sugar and diabetes.

During the seventies Donald Rumsfeld was the CEO of Searl, which developed the artificial sweetener called Aspartame. He was unable to get FDA approval until he became a member of the Reagan Administration in the 80s. Aspartame went on to be included in many soft drinks. But as reports began to surface in the 2000s that the sweetener is linked to cancer and other diseases, a public backlash began to escalate.

Checklist of Reminders About Sugar

1. Dr. Robert Lustig at the University of California, San Francisco in 2015 he published research findings that sugar is toxic.

2. A court battle has divided the sugar industry and High Fructose Corn Syrup manufacturers, as both are accusing the other of misleading the public.

3. The FDA and the sugar industry have debated in the 2010s about updating nutrition labels on sugar content.

4. Sugar is disguised in ingredients under many different names including aspartame, dehydrated cane juice, dextrose
fruit juice concentrate and molasses.

5. The sugar industry spent millions of dollars in the eigthies to convince the public and organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association in that sugar is safe.

6. Since the early 1970s, obesity rates in America have more than doubled while cases of diabetes have more than tripled.

7. The World Health Organization has recommended that children reduce their daily intake of added sugar to 10 percent, with the long term goal of 5 percent.

8. Researchers at the Karolina Institute in Sweden found that people who drink at least two servings of sweetened beverages per day have a 25 percent increased chance of heart failure.

9. Heart failure is the top reason that senior citizens visit a hospital.

10. The amount of High Fructose Corn Syrup in American food rose by over 1000 percent from 1970 to 1990.

11. High Fructose Corn Syrup may cause fatty liver disease, according to a collaborative study by the University of Southern California and Oxford University.

12. The average American consumed up to 180 pounds of sugar per year by 2009, a tremendous rise since the 1700s when four pounds per year was typical.

13. Sugar is linked to learning disabilities, according to a study by the University of Southern California.

14. Nobel Prize winner Dr. Otto Warburg discovered a link between sugar fermentation and cancer in the 1920s.

15. The three main types of sugar are glucose, fructose and sucrose. Your body thrives on glucose but doesn't need to overload on fructose or sucrose, other than fructose in fruit is good for you, whereas hi fructose corn syrup is very questionable.


Sugar not only robs your body of energy, it can destroy your cells. Is this real science, just a theory, PR for a competing industry or just media distortion? Use your own brain to gather evidence and decide. Find a health professional who has access to scientific studies and can mentor you about nutrition. Don't just believe what "studies say" in publications or on televised talk shows. Always remember that if a product is issue by a publicly traded corporation, it will be defended in the media by those who have a vested interest in it. In some cases, even the most respected media outlets have been compromised by promoters who influence journalistic content. Remember that not all published studies are actually scientific. Learn how to see through media distortion to sharpen your awareness.

For a deeper look at the dangers of sugar, read Why Real or Fake Sugar Is Toxic at Nu Pop Culture.

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