Sugar named the world’s most popular drug

Tasty treats: But by year six one in five children are obese, according to official figures.

A new study has cast light on English children’s shocking sugar intake. Like many harmful drugs, sugar changes the brain and can be addictive. So should sugar be treated as drugs are?

What’s happening

Research has shown that children under ten in England consume, on average, more than three times as much sugar as they should. They have half their recommended daily allowance of it at breakfast. Thanks to this public health disaster, the government is facing calls to treat sugar as a drug.

Find out more

Like alcohol, sugar changes our mood. It creates a pleasurable short-term feeling. And once we get used to it, we want more.

Scientists are divided on whether sugar is addictive in the same way as many illegal drugs, but they are worried by how widespread it has become. It is not only found in sweets or fizzy drinks, but in many products branded as ‘healthy’, as well as in tinned and canned food.

Sugar is a cause of many health problems, such as obesity and diabetes. This has led to growing calls for tougher action on sugary food and drinks.

Last year the UK government introduced a sugar tax on the soft drinks industry. Some have even suggested that children should be banned from buying sugary products. Should sugar be treated as a drug?

Some say…

Absolutely. Sugar is addictive and causes great harm, just like substances we usually call ‘drugs’. It may be legal and socially acceptable to wolf down a cake, but that does not make it any better for us. The government should get tougher to protect people, particularly the young, from ‘the white killer’. It is time to get tough on sugar.

Others think…

That is ridiculous. We do not inject, snort or smoke sugar. It does not change our behaviour very much. Small amounts of sugar in our diet can be good for us, provided we exercise regularly. And our bodies convert carbohydrates to glucose: a substance which occurs naturally in the human blood is hardly a drug. Calls for a crackdown are wrong.

You Decide

  1. Is sugar a drug?

Activities

  1. Keep a diary of everything you eat and drink for a week. Work out how much sugar you have consumed.

Some People Say...

“Sugar should be illegal.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Recommended
Suggested as a good thing.
Diabetes
A disease that damages the body’s ability to produce insulin (for helping convert food into energy), leading to too much glucose (sugar) in the blood..
Tax
Money that people have to pay to the government. For example income tax, where people pay part of their earnings to the government.
Carbohydrates
Chemical compounds that contain only oxygen, carbon and hydrogen and are made up of sugars. For example, potatoes, pasta and rice.

Subjects

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