Globally, obesity is over one billion. Nearly 64% of adults are obese in the UK.  In the US, close to 70% of American adults are overweight or obese, and the resulting medical cost to taxpayers, businesses, communities and individuals is nearly $200 billion per year.  Research now indicates that sugar is the main cause for obesity.  Simple carbohydrates, which are composed of one or two sugars, digest quickly, have little nutritional value, and drive the fat storage system.  On the other hand, complex carbohydrates, found in combination with fiber, minerals, and protein, are slower to digest and thus do not raise the level of sugar in the blood as quickly.

Health issues associated to obesity

– Raising bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride and lowering good HDL cholesterol levels

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– Increasing blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke

– Increasing the risk for Type II Diabetes, gallstones, and respiratory problems

– Increasing the risk for injury and arthritis

artificial sweeteners

Sugar substitutes: solution or problem?

In order to reduce the impact of sugar and sugar addiction on the health of Americans, a number of sugar substitutes are available.  Unfortunately, pundits and researchers link artificial sweeteners to additional cravings for sugar and thus exacerbate sugar addiction. Qing Yang, writing for The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine states, “A rise in the percent of the population who are obese coincides with an increase in the widespread use of non-caloric artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, in food products” (Yang, 2010).  A similar study, at the Center for Human Nutrition at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri reports, “Splenda (sucralose), which is commonly marketed to diabetics as a safe, non-nutritive sweetener (NNS), actually elicits a diabetes-promoting effect in people who consume it” (Benson, 2013).

Common sugar substitutes

Are artificial sweeteners the answer to obesity?
Aspartame contains phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (which converts into formaldehyde when metabolized).  Sucralose, created by chlorinating sugar, is the sweetest of the sugar substitutes, discovered by accident when “pesticide researchers stumbled upon it after observing that it is closely related to the retired insecticide chemical DDT” (Benson, 2013).

In conclusion, the situation is a conundrum for people suffering from obesity or diabetes.  However, choosing natural sweeteners and sugar sources from complex carbohydrates over two potentially unhealthy diet components, simple carbohydrates/sugar and sugar substitutes, may be the wise choice as well as discussing these options and any diet changes with your medical practitioner.

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