America has gone nuts about sugar following this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The episode considers America’s sugar consumption and the use of added sugar in its food products. Watch the video or read the summary below to get the gist of what was said.
Table of Contents
John Olive first told us just how much sugar Americans consume.
- This Halloween Americans will spend $2.2 billion on candy.
- The average American consumes twenty-two teaspoons of sugar a day, which is three times the amount we need.
- Humans are genetically programmed to like sugar.
- Sugar activates the brain in a similar way to drugs like cocaine.
- 35% of the sugar Americans consume comes from drinks.
- Too much sugar is harmful and studies suggest that it can harm the brain.
He then explained how the sugar industry works and how it adds sugar to just about everything. Sugar is added to almost every food item you can think of, including salad dressings, ketchup, bread, cereal, crackers, and jerky. The sweetener industry is an immensely powerful $5 billion industry.
However, many sugar companies claim that sugar isn’t bad for us. In fact, The Sugar Association used to claim that sugar was a diet aid and the president of the association claims that sugar doesn’t contribute to obesity or diabetes.
Some scientists say there is no link between sugar and obesity, but these scientists often turn out to work for companies that stand to benefit from sugar being touted as healthy. Some of these scientists get paid about half a million dollars a year to work for these companies. One study compared the findings of studies carried out by scientists with a conflict of interest to the findings of studies carried out by independent scientists. The study found that the vast majority of the independent scientists found a link between sugar and weight gain, while the vast majority of the scientists with a conflict of interest found no link between sugar and weight gain.
John Oliver then went on to say that, whether or not sugar is bad for us, we should at least know when it’s added to our food. He told us that the FDA wants to add an “added sugar” category to food labels, but there’s no way that the food industry will allow this to happen. The FDA has received pleas from all sort of food companies, including cranberry manufacturers, yogurt companies, and frozen pizzas producers.
Regardless of whether or not the proposal becomes reality, John Oliver thinks it misses the point. No one, he said, understands what a gram is, so telling us how many grams of sugar a particular food product contains won’t really help us. Instead, he suggested that food companies use a measurement Americans can grasp immediately. He suggested that sugar be measured in Circus Peanuts, which contain over five grams of sugar each.
Oliver then called on viewers to demand that food manufacturers be honest about the sugar content of their products, by tweeting them with the hashtag #showusyourpeanuts.
Since the episode aired, Twitter users have gotten behind the campaign and tweeted lots of big food manufacturers.
— Brian O’Neill (@snowmanco) October 27, 2014
Whether or not this campaign achieves anything, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Sugar consumption is dangerously high in the US and the majority of the population could do with cutting sugar out of their diet or at least reducing it. If you’re concerned about your sugar intake and would like to lower it, check out the 21 Day Sugar Detox. Otherwise, get tweeting! #showusyourpeanuts
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