Is sugar really bad for your health?
The latest studies have shown that excess consumption is bad for us. Let’s take a closer look.
• Tooth decay – To prevent it, in addition to correct oral hygiene, we should eat less sugary food.
• Cancer – No direct correlations with the development of cancer have been demonstrated. Patients are generally advised to suspend their intake of “bad” sugars in favour of the “good” sugars found in fruit, cereals and carbohydrates.
• Diabetes – Not caused directly by sugar, but by an unbalanced diet and irregular lifestyle in general.
• Heart – The above applies also to the heart: sugar can only contribute to oxidation of the arteries and microcirculation, in the case of a sedentary and irregular lifestyle.
• Weight – Sugar is fattening and increases the risk of obesity and development of related diseases (tumours, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases) because it creates dependence and the desire to eat more and more of it or does not satisfy our hunger (in the case of sugary drinks).
So what is the recommended maximum daily intake? According to the WHO it is 25 g per day (5 teaspoonfuls), comprising both sugar used at table and the sugar contained in any food and drink. To see how much sugar we eat, we need to “worm out” the information from the labels under the items “carbohydrates, of which sugars” or “ingredients”, where we find the items: sucrose, cane sugar, inverted sugar, glucose syrup, fructose, maltose, starch, dextrins. In Italy the daily consumption is on average 82.5 g for adults and 96.8 for children (2005-2006 data): the lowest value in Europe after Spain, and much lower than the USA values (117 for adults and 131 for children), but nevertheless much higher than the recommended intake. It is surprising to find that in the ’60s the Italians ate 25 g of sugar per day without knowing it! The diet was undoubtedly healthier, also considering the fact that the consumption of dairy products and meat was half that of today’s consumption, and people ate twice the amount of cereals, potatoes and legumes. Although awareness of the problem is increasing (the percentage of children who drink sugary drinks daily dropped from 48% in 2010 to 36% in 2016), nutritionists define the environment we live in as “obesogenic”, i.e. it induces us to eat even when we are not hungry. Government campaigns have been too weak and too few projects have been implemented to deal with this emergency, although some positive results have been achieved among the very young. The American Heart Association advises parents to intervene immediately, and not give sugary foods to children under the age of two, and no more than one sugary drink per week to teenagers.