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America’s Obsession With Sugar: How Our Need for a Sweet Fix Has Expanded Our Waistlines

Over the last 50 years, sugar has become a staple in the American diet. In a newly released interactive infographic called America’s Sugar Addiction: How Our Need for a Sweet Fix Has Expanded Our Waistlines, Elements Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment Magazine capture the steady decade-by-decade climb of sugar in all its forms, including cane sugar, soda and high fructose corn syrup, and the subsequent costs to Americans’ waistlines and health.

Today, most Americans consume 22 teaspoons (355 calories) of added sugar per day – a far cry from the American Heart Association’s recommendations of six teaspoons (100 calories) for women and nine teaspoons (150 calories) for men. In 2010, that added up to 130 pounds of cane sugar – a dramatic increase from the 78 pounds consumed in 1960.

The consequences of America’s obsession with sugar have been dire. Since sugary foods are high in calories and low on nutrition and ingredients that keep people feeling full, they contribute to the nation’s growing problems of overweight and obesity. Obesity, in turn, can increase the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.

A sugar-laden diet takes a toll not only on America’s physical health, but also its mental health. Sugar can provide a quick energy boost but over time blood sugar plummets, causing irritability, fatigue, poor concentration and other mood problems. A growing body of evidence suggests that sugar also may be addictive.

“Since the 1960s, sugar has found its way into just about every processed food we eat, but many Americans don’t realize the extent of the problem,” said David Sack, MD, CEO of Elements Behavioral Health. “With this infographic, we’re drawing attention to how much sugar we are consuming and how it could be affecting our health in some very serious ways. Sugar affects the same areas of the brain as drugs like cocaine and heroin, and can be an extremely difficult habit to break.”

About Elements Behavioral Health

Elements Behavioral Health is a family of behavioral health care programs that includes Promises Treatment Centers, The Ranch, The Sexual Recovery Institute, The Recovery Place, Spirit Lodge and Right Step. Elements offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders and other mental health disorders. We are committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the patient but for the entire family system.

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