Drinking and Eating Sugar:
The Epidemic Affecting Our Health
by Nancy Hearn, CNC

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Drinking and eating sugar in excess is an epidemic that is wreaking havoc on the health of both children and adults.

During the past few years, you may have seen the shocking news reports about the increasing rate of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in America. 

Two recent reports I have seen include:  “Rising Obesity Rates Annihilate Previous Life Span Forecasts” and “Epidemic of Children Getting Adult Diabetes.”

However, obesity and diabetes are just two of the many side effects of excess sugar consumption.

In addition to diabetes and obesity, a few more common metabolic consequences in children from drinking and eating sugar include the following:

  • Causes hyperactivity, anxiety, concentration difficulties, and crankiness
  • Adversely affects children’s school grades
  • Raises adrenaline levels in children
  • Causes drowsiness and decreased activity in children
  • Contributes to eczema in children

The future health of our country is clearly linked to the health of our children. If we want to save them from needless grief and suffering, then something needs to change quickly.

I believe the single most critical factor in the childhood obesity and diabetes epidemic is drinking and eating sugar in excess. In fact, many natural health practitioners call sugar “the slow killer.”

How Much Sugar We Drink

Sugar consumption has risen 1500 percent in the last 200 years!! In America today, the average person consumes 150 pounds of sugar a year.  That equates to about 50 teaspoons of sugar a day.  

Can you imagine your kids sitting at the kitchen table and eating or drinking 30 to 50 teaspoons of white sugar every day?  

Sounds hard to believe, but that is what most children are doing without parents even realizing it.

Soft drinks (including “health-food” store brands) are the single largest source of refined sugar in the American diet. 

According to surveys, each soft drink provides, on average, seven or more teaspoons of sugar!!

In addition to sugar, most soft drinks also contain caffeine, an addictive drug for children. Diet sodas are even worse because of the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame.

Some parents tell me, “My children only drink fruit juice.” Unfortunately, fruit juice is not much better in terms of concentrated sugar content. 

For optimal health, children should be drinking primarily clean, filtered water rather than other beverages, including milk and fruit juice!  

Learn 5 key reasons to avoid milk and dairy food.

Hidden Sugars in Processed Food

As bad as soft drinks are, three-fourths of the sugar we consume in America today comes from hidden sugars in processed foods that are disguised by different names. Just to name a few:

  • Barley malt
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Maltose
  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Lactose
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Sorbitol

The highest concentration of sugar comes in packaged cereals, cookies, crackers, breads, muffins, candy, and other snack foods.

But you might be surprised how much sugar is also packed into a can of vegetables!

Bottom line, the only way to avoid consuming hidden sugars is to avoid all packaged foods and to eat primarily plant-based, fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.

Top Tips for Parents

The most important advice for parents is to stop buying soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and processed snack foods for your children. 

Dr. Joseph Mercola, Director of the Optimal Wellness Center in Chicago and bestselling author of  Dr. Mercola’s Total Health Program, puts it bluntly:

“Folks, this is a simple one.  There is absolutely no reason your kids should be drinking soda. None, nada, zero. No excuses. The elimination of soda pop is one of the most crucial factors in the health problems people suffer.”  

The taste for sugar is acquired through eating super sweet foods, like sodas, sports drinks, juice, cookies, processed cereals, and candy. 

The taste for sugar can be decreased by gradually reducing the level of sweetness in foods and drinks. 

This means replacing concentrated sweetened drinks with real fruit juice diluted half and half with water. Or offering children herbal and fruit teas sweetened with stevia, a healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners. 

However, few children drink enough water because they are drinking so many other beverages.  

Nothing replaces the need for clean, filtered water in the body!!  In fact, I recommend that parents only serve water at meals.

If your children are involved in sports, consider making your own healthier version of an electrolyte enhanced beverage.  

The commercial version of sports drinks are almost as unhealthy as sodas. They have a ton of sugar AND they are highly acidic.

See Water vs Sports Drinks for more information.

Summary for Drinking and Eating Sugar

Excess sugar consumption will slowly deteriorate one's health and weaken the immune system. And as we all know, children will imitate their parents.

If parents are drinking and eating sugar in excess, this pattern will, to a large extent, determine their children’s health and dietary habits for life. 

Of course, as your kids get older and have pocket money, they will most likely buy sodas or sweets or will get them from friends. But if sweets and soft drinks are not part of their day-to-day diet at home, especially during the formative years, they will be far less likely to constantly crave sweets, battle weight issues, and suffer needlessly with poor health for the rest of their lives.  


Patrick Holford; The Optimum Nutrition Bible; 2004.

Joseph Mercola, Brian Vaszily, Kendra Pearsall and Nancy Lee Bentley; Dr. Mercola’s Total Health Program; 2010.

Further reading:

TheTruthAboutCancer.com; Why Sugar Is Called the White Death

Return from Drinking and Eating Sugar to Water Nutrition

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