Health scientists have suggested treating sugar consumption like smoking

When cigarettes were first introduced, people took up the smoking habit like anything. However, it wasn’t long until the various side effects were realized. Subsequently, health campaigns started taking place that made the population aware of the consequences. Remedies (like nicotine patches, psychological therapies) were encouraged so people gave up the habit as soon as possible. Now empirical data shows that the downward trend in smoking is being observed. Can we do the same for sugar?

Consumption still on the rise

We know for a fact that an excessive amount of any unhealthy substance is not good for our body. Perhaps that is why they are categorized as unhealthy in the first place. We also know that sugar falls very much in this category.

Sugar is harmful in nearly every way possible. Even to the extent, where one study reported that the item contributes more to obesity than fats do. If you exceed the recommended intake, you put yourself at risk of various medical illnesses such as diabetes.

That being said there is now increasing concern by health experts to treat sugar addiction similar to smoking.

The first step taken in that regard by governments was to start taxing sugary substances. Taking the case of UK for instance which introduced a “sugar tax” on most sweet items.

While the action seemed a step in the right direction, little did it achieve! The statistics released by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) show that the consumption is still at an all-time high. Almost every age group consumes sugar more than what the daily requirement is. Unfortunately, the consumption of the youth population is accelerating at a fast pace. Currently, individuals aged between 10 to 14 and 15 to 19 obtain about 20% of their calories from sugar. The recommended percentage of consumption stands at only 5% of the daily calorie intake.

Treating Sugar like Smoking

As a consequence, it is the need of the hour to take drastic steps. Because all previous actions have failed to yield any significant result, it is vital that an emergency guideline should be issued to curb excessive consumption of sugar.

A number of medical researchers have thereby suggested to start treating sugar like tobacco addiction. Which means that plans which were (and have been) formulated to make people quit smoking should also apply for sugary substances.

The first step, accordingly, which can prove to be advantageous is through the introduction of plain packaging. Many people are drawn towards sweet products due to the attractive packaging that comes along. A step as simple as selling items in a plain package is believed to cut down on sales thereby preventing people from excessive consumption. This plan is being followed in some regions of the UK and Europe and results have been positive.

The second step and perhaps the most important step is to create a large sense of awareness. People can be made to quit sugar addiction if they have a viable reason to do so. That can only come about if the general public is well aware of the consequences that tag along. It is thereby imperative upon health authorities to educate people in the right way possible. The step can entail numerous things such as tv campaigns, distribution of pamphlets etc. Only when a large sense of awareness has been inculcated can we believe to see a downward trend in consumption.


Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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