UK health experts want to see less sugar in the foods we eat, fruit juice and fizzy drinks banned from the dinner table, and possibly even a sugar tax.
In an instant, the current recommended sugar intake has been halved, so that an adult woman should now aim to consume no more than 25g of added sugar (5-6 teaspoons) per day; 35g (7-8 teaspoons) for a man.
About time too. If as a nation we don’t take action on improving our diets, there is no chance of beating the obesity crisis whereby in the UK, 67% of men and 57% of women are either overweight or obese, according to a recent Global Burden of Disease study. More than a quarter of children are also overweight or obese.
But cutting your sugar intake is about more than obesity. Being overweight increases your likelihood of suffering from a whole raft of unpleasant conditions, with type-2 diabetes sitting right there at the top of the danger list. That’s right, you won’t just be fat. You will also be seriously unwell.
One in three adults in the UK are at risk of developing type-2 diabetes, and sufferers are getting younger. What used to be a later life condition is turning onto a middle age problem – and younger. But despite these warning signs, new research from ShARP (the Simply Health Advisory Research Panel) reveals that more than 60% of us are unconcerned about it, and 40% admit to general ignorance about Type-2 diabetes.
Maybe it’s time to start getting worried: if you’re overweight, inactive and have a family history of diabetes, the bad news is: You Are Likely To Get Diabetes. Fact.
Which means …
1. You’re FIVE TIMES more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, because diabetes damages your vascular system.
2. Painful foot ulcers caused by nerve damage as a result of diabetes are likely to reduce your mobility.
3. You’re 20 TIMES more likely to require a foot or lower leg amputation.
4. You’ll suffer more infections, because diabetes means high sugar levels in your body – and bacteria and fungi thrive on sugar!
5. You’ll be low on energy and suffer from extreme tiredness.
6. You may suffer renal disease because of the damage caused by high blood sugar to the small blood vessels within your kidneys. Kidney disease kills one in 10 people with type-2 diabetes.
7. You’re at increased risk of glaucoma and cataracts, which occur 10-15 years earlier in people with diabetes.
8. You are also more at risk from blindness as a result of retinopathy, because fluctuating blood sugars – especially high blood sugar, as in diabetes – damage the blood vessels at the back of your eye.
9. People with diabetes are 10-20 times more likely to lose their sight than a person with normal blood sugar levels.
10. Getting diabetes in middle age increases your likelihood of a form of brain damage associated with dementia.
11. In fact, blood sugar problems can actually shrink your brain: diabetics have an average of 2.9% less brain volume than non-sufferers, scans at the world-famous Mayo Clinic have shown.
12. Your long- and short-term memory will deteriorate as a result of diabetes: a condition known as vascular dementia.
13. You are at high risk of suffering from depression.
Well, wouldn’t you be depressed on realising that you’ve contracted a preventable disease that entails serious life changes (ongoing medication to control your diabetes and related conditions, taking more exercise, avoiding foods that contain glucose – that’s sugar, folks) – for the rest of your life?
Go easy on the sugar and do your whole body a favour.