The effects of sugar on health—myths and realities

True or not, a number of health effects have been attributed to sugar. It's time to distinguish between myths and realities in order to make informed choices. 

Sugar, a guilty pleasure

Sugar is contained in a great number of foods we eat. It can be found in food naturally (fruit, vegetables, milk, etc.) or it can be added artificially (soft drinks, juice, etc.).

Sugar does not contain any nutrients (for instance, vitamins or minerals). However, it is an important source of energy for the body. Thus, a certain amount of sugar is needed for the body to function normally. Therefore, one must be careful not to blame it for all ills, but rather keep in mind that sugar is always better with moderation!

Here are a few examples of widespread beliefs about sugar. Find out whether or not they are founded.

Sugar causes hyperactivity in children: myth

Sugar is sometimes identified to explain our children’s behaviour. In fact, scientific research shows that eating sugar is not related to hyperactivity in children, even for those who already suffer from attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD). Additionally, there is currently no scientific data enabling us to conclude that there is any connection whatsoever between the consumption of sugar and sleep problems, in both children and adults.

In reality, excitement and hyperactivity in children who have just consumed sugar are most often related to the circumstances in which the sugar was consumed (i.e. Halloween, children’s party, Christmas festivities, etc.), rather than the sugar itself. It is the idea of eating sugar itself and what goes with it that cause children to be excited most of the time.

Sugar causes hyperactivity in children: myth

Sugar promotes tooth decay—reality

The effects of sugar on dental health is well known. However, it is important to know that sweets are not the only foods that cause tooth decay; all sources of sugar—including cereal, and fruits and vegetables—can lead to tooth decay.

When the sugar contained in foods is inside the mouth, the bacteria responsible for tooth decay is transformed into acid, which wears down tooth enamel, weakening it. This contributes to tooth decay over time.

The solution? Good dental hygiene. It is the best way to prevent tooth decay. Limiting how often sugar is eaten, can help to prevent tooth decay.

Excess sugar leads to weight gain: reality

If your caloric intake exceeds your caloric expenditure, you will certainly gain weight. This is true for sugar and for any other source of excess calories.

Unfortunately, the North American diet contains a great number of artificially sweetened foods, providing a high calorie intake, but low nutritional value (e.g., pastries, soft drinks, chocolate, etc.). For foods that naturally contain sugar, most of them are an adequate source of other essential nutrients (e.g., vitamins, minerals or fibre). 

Reducing your sugar consumption, and especially, choosing healthy foods to put on your plate can definitely help you to reach a healthy weight. Follow Canada Food Guide recommendations and practise a physical activity every day to reach your weight loss objectives.

Excess sugar leads to weight gain: reality

Sugar causes certain chronic diseases—myth (and reality)

Contrary to what one might believe, sugar is not directly related to the onset of certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, current research suggests that a sugar-rich diet can increase the risk of weight gain and obesity. Because being overweight is a known risk factor for diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, it can indirectly increase the risk of the onset of these types of diseases.

Therefore, in terms of overall healthcare management, it is clear that you should take an interest in your sugar intake. A healthy diet and regular physical activity will help you to reduce the risk of suffering from certain diseases.

Therefore, in terms of overall healthcare management, it is clear that you should take an interest in your sugar intake. A healthy diet and regular physical activity will help you to reduce the risk of suffering from certain diseases.

Sugar is not your arch enemy—reality

Completely depriving yourself of sugar is impossible and would be harmful anyway, as it is an important source of energy. However, too much sugar also carries its harms. The World Health Organization (WHO) and public health experts suggest significantly reducing sugar consumption in order to limit the number of extra calories.

Learn to incorporate sugar into your diet wisely in order to stay healthy. Choosing healthy nutrition habits is always a winning strategy!

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The effects of sugar on health—myths and realities

True or not, a number of health effects have been attributed to sugar. It's time to distinguish between myths and realities in order to make informed choices.
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