By IAN MCBRIDE
In recent years North Americans’ appetite for sugary foods and drinks has reached alarming levels, which in turn has led to high rates of obesity.
Over the past 35 to 40 years obesity rates and sugar consumption have risen dramatically in North America. According to a May 27, 2014 article in an online newsletter produced by Natural News, Stephanie Soechtig, who directed the documentary Fed Up, said, “From 1977 to 2000 we doubled our intake of sugar. It wreaks havoc on your body and it’s addictive. We’ve been blaming fat for so many of our diseases, for cholesterol, for heart problems. But it turns out that sugar is really the underlying factor in many of those illnesses.”
However, health food stores and personal trainers are making positive strides to reverse the trend of obesity caused by the over-consumption of sugar.
Gary Hallman, store manager of Healthy Foods & More in Waterloo, said the store uses alternatives to refined sugar in the baked goods and other products that are made in-store.
“There’s a couple of things that we use right now. One of the most common products on the market is called xylitol. It’s an alcohol sugar, as opposed to more traditional plant-based sugars. We typically don’t use a lot of complex sugars, like fructose. We also use stevia, which is becoming common on the market. It’s a leaf that’s dried and ground up. It’s 30 times as sweet as regular sugar. So you only need to use a little bit to get the same amount of sweetness. It’s great for people who are diabetics,” he said.
Hallman also talked about ways people can cut back on sugar, which improves their health.
“If individuals experience adverse effects from consuming too much sugar, such as obesity, they can gradually reverse that unhealthy trend by consuming foods that are rich in nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables.”
Another startling statistic about sugar is that there are more than 70 health disorders that are connected to sugar consumption including diabetes, poor brain development in children, lack of concentration, allergies, asthma, ADHD, hypoglycemia, mood swings and immune and nutritional deficiencies. Also, according to Michelle MacLean, a certified health and wellness coach and nutrition consultant, 61 per cent of Canadians are overweight or obese, and it’s predicted that by 2019, overweight and obese adults will outnumber those of normal weight in half of our provinces.
Markesh Bhatt, who is a personal trainer in Kitchener, said he talks to his clients about their eating habits.
“If I find out that my clients consume too much sugar then I give them advice on how to improve their diets by suggesting healthier food alternatives that will positively impact their health.”
According to Bhatt, exercise and diet go hand in hand when it comes to improving health and losing weight.
“Cutting down on sugar intake is half the battle. If people want to fully improve their health and lose weight, they must exercise regularly as well.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Waterloo resident Jennifer Nielsen admits that she consumes too much sugar, but she wants to change that.
“Over-consumption of sugar has caused me to gain weight over the past several years. But I’m determined to reduce my sugar consumption so that I can lose weight,” she said.