Sugar has been vilified over the years with claims of its disastrous effects on our health. Are these claims true? Does taken a soda a day guarantee one ill health? What of the effects of excess sugar on obesity? In this article, we will explore these claims and determine whether indeed excessive sugar intake leads to obesity.
1. What is obesity?
Obesity rates have skyrocketed over the past century. In 1962, 46 percent of adults in the U.S. were considered overweight or obese. By 2010,that figure had jumped to 75 percent.
So, what exactly is obesity……
Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
Obesity is diagnosed when your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. To determine your body mass index, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply by 703. Or divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.
|30.0 and higher||Obesity|
For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. However, BMI doesn’t directly measure body fat, so some people, such as muscular athletes, may have a BMI in the obesity category even though they don’t have excess body fat.
2. Sugar and obesity
Obesity is a complex problem with multiple causes. But among the likely suspects, sugar is a top favorite. As sugar consumption has increased, so too has the size of our waistlines.
Added sugars are a controversial and hotly debated topic. Consumption of added sugars has been implicated in increased risk of a variety of chronic diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as cognitive decline and even some cancers. Support for these putative associations has been challenged, however, on a variety of fronts.
The sugars in your diet can be eithernaturally occurring or added. Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing, or added at the table.
Numerous dietary and lifestyle habits can lead to weight gain and cause you to put on excess body fat.Consuming a diet high in added sugars, such as those found in sweetened beverages, candy, baked goods, and sugary cereals, is a contributing factor in weight gain and chronic health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Many people consume more sugar than they realize. It’s important to be aware of how much sugar you consume because our bodies don’t need sugar to function properly. Added sugars contribute zero nutrients but many added calories, which can lead to extra pounds or even obesity, thereby reducing impacting our health.
The ways in which added sugar intake leads to weight gain and increased body fat are complex and involve many factors.
3. Some ways why added sugar is fattening….
- It is high in empty calories
Added sugars are sweeteners added to foods and beverages to improve taste. Common types of added sugar include fructose, corn syrup, cane sugar, and agave.Excess sugar may cause you to pack on weight because it’s high in calories while offering few other nutrients.
Though using small amounts of added sugar is unlikely to cause weight gain, regularly indulging in foods high in added sugars may cause you to gain excess body fat quicker and more drastically.
- Impacts blood sugar and hormone levels
It’s well known that eating sugary foods significantly raises your blood sugar levels.Though enjoying a sweet food infrequently isn’t likely to harm health, daily consumption of large amounts of added sugar can lead to chronically elevated blood sugar levels.
Prolonged elevated blood sugar — known as hyperglycemia — can cause serious harm to your body, by causing insulin resistance and resulting including weight gain.
- May lead to overeating
Foods high in added sugars tend to be less filling. Eating foods rich in carbs — particularly refined carbs high in added sugars — yet low in protein can negatively impact fullness and may lead to weight gain by causing you to eat more at subsequent meals throughout the day or overeat at any one particular seating.
Animal studies indicate that fructose impacts signaling systems in your hypothalamus, increasing levels of hunger-stimulating neuropeptides — molecules that communicate with one another, influencing brain activity — while decreasing fullness signals. Additionally, your body is predisposed to crave sweetness. In fact, research shows that sugar consumption is driven by the pleasure derived from the sweet taste of sugary drinks and foods.
- Linked to obesity and chronic disease
Numerous studies have linked high intake of added sugars to weight gain and chronic conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.This effect has been observed both in adults and in children. Recently, a review of 30 studies in more than 242,000 adults and children found a significant link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity.
4. What are some of the health problems associated with obesity?
People with obesity are more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems, including:
- Heart disease and strokes. Obesity makes you more likely to have high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease and strokes.
- Type 2 diabetes. Obesity can affect the way your body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels. This raises your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Certain cancers. Obesity may increase your risk of cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate.
- Digestive problems. Obesity increases the likelihood that you’ll develop heartburn, gallbladder disease and liver problems.
- Gynecological and sexual problems. Obesity may cause infertility and irregular periods in women. Obesity also can cause erectile dysfunction in men.
- Sleep apnea. People with obesity are more likely to have sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
- Osteoarthritis. Obesity increases the stress placed on weight-bearing joints, in addition to promoting inflammation within the body. These factors may lead to complications such as osteoarthritis.
5. How can obesity affect your quality of life?
People who are obese often find themselves struggling with some issues that might diminish their overall quality of life. Some of these issues might include:
- Sexual problems
- Shame and guilt
- Social isolation
- Lower work achievement
6. How can you keep yourself from getting obese?
Whether you’re at risk of obesity, currently overweight or at a healthy weight, you can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and related health problems.
- Exercise regularly. You need to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to prevent weight gain. Moderately intense physical activities include fast walking and swimming.
- Follow a healthy-eating plan. Focus on low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid saturated fat and limit sweets and alcohol. Eat three regular meals a day with limited snacking. You can still enjoy small amounts of high-fat, high-calorie foods as an infrequent treat.
- Know and avoid the food traps that cause you to eat. Identify situations that trigger out-of-control eating. Try keeping a journal and write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling and how hungry you are, stay in control of your eating behaviors.
- Monitor your weight regularly. People who weigh themselves at least once a week are more successful in keeping off excess pounds.
- Be consistent. Sticking to your healthy-weight plan all the time
7. So, is sugar friend or foe?
Interfering with your hormones, increasing hunger, and displacing healthy foods are just a few of the ways that added sugars can lead to weight gain.Aside from causing you to put on excess body fat, eating too much added sugar can significantly increase your risk of chronic conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It is thus wise to consume added sugars with caution because a stitch in time save nine.
- Endocrineweb(2018):Insulin Resistance Causes and Symptoms, Retrieved from
- Healthline (2019):6 Ways Added Sugar Is Fattening. Retrieved from
- American Heart Association (2018): Added Sugars. Retrieved from
- NCBI (2016): Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Retrieved from
- John Hopkins Medicine (2019): Obesity, Sugar and Heart Health. Retrieved from
- Mayo Clinic: Retrieved from