On a global scale, with a world population of just over 8 billion people, we now consume roughly 178 million tonnes of sugar annually – that’s up from 13 million tonnes at the start of the 20th century, when there was a global population of just 1.6 billion people.
The rate at which we’re consuming sugar is highest across America and Europe, in which we consume it in serious excess.
In fact, after hypertension, smoking and high cholesterol, the NHS estimates that obesity is the fourth largest risk factor contributing to deaths in England.
27% of adults in England are obese and a further 36% are overweight.
[Health Survey for England, 2021]
By 2050 obesity alone is predicted to affect 60% of adult men, 50% of adult women and 25% of children.
In 2021/22 10.1% of reception age children (age 4-5) were obese with a further 12.1% overweight. At age 10-11 (year 6) 23.4% were obese and 14.3% overweight.
[National Child Measurement Programme, NHS Digital]
In 2021, 300,000 items were prescribed for the treatment of obesity in primary care in England. The net ingredient cost (NIC) of these prescription items was £8.8m in 2020.
[Reference NHS Digital 2021]
Too many refined sugars, carbohydrates and processed foods serve as “fertiliser” for disease-causing bacteria and yeast in our gut, causing them to rapidly multiply. This gives rise to inflammation and a wide-range of digestive symptoms, such as bloating, stomach pain, acid reflux, diarrhoea and constipation.
Diets rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar cause our insulin levels (a hormone made by the pancreas) to rise. When this happens, more and more energy gets diverted into fat storage and we put on excess weight. These refined carbohydrates are a major driver of obesity, and are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Our bodies digest refined carbohydrates and sugar very quickly, which causes increased inflammation and raises blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in our bloodstream can damage our artery walls, leading to more inflammation, which increases our risk for heart disease.
Diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar trigger a cascade of chemical reactions in our bodies that promote chronic inflammation. In the long-term, this disrupts the normal functioning of our immune system and wreaks havoc on our brain, giving rise to problems such as depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating and exercising for your genes.