Sugar addiction: The risk of having more than just a 'sweet tooth'

Ingy Deif, Sunday 10 Mar 2013

Doctors give Ahram Online tips for Egyptians to fight their sugar addiction in order to avoid lethargy, mood swings, heart problems and premature ageing

photo: AP

Indulging in sweets and desserts is a real treat for people of all ages and genders; it lifts spirits and boosts the mood like no other food can. The problem occurs when consumption goes beyond moderation to affect not only the waistline, but also risks a permanent change in health and lifestyle by developing diabetes.

According to the statistics issued by the health ministry, more than 7.3 million Egyptian are diabetic, a number confirmed by Dr Mohamed Mostafa Hamed, health minister, who said that campaigns are being launched all over the world to raise awareness regarding early diabetes diagnosis.

Dr Hamed stressed that if the problem is left unsolved, the percentages in Egypt will soar, exceeding international averages, to reach a whooping 12.4 million diabetic cases by 2030.

Statistics released at the Challenges and Methods to Combat Diabetes conference under the auspices of the health ministry say that an estimated 50 percent of diabetics do not even know that they have the disease. These numbers place Egypt among the top ten countries suffering from diabetes.

Sugar is hidden in many kinds of preserved and packaged foods, reveals Dr Fawzi El Shubaki, professor of nutrition at National Research Institute. Egyptians usually exceed the daily recommended cap - 50 grams for women and 70 for men - by far.

"It’s a lifestyle decision," concludes Dr Asmaa El Kateb, fitness and diet specialist.

"People come to us complaining of weight gain and lethargy and the first thing we probe into is their sugar intake, which, unfortunately, in our societies, is way above the recommended maximum."

Premature signs of aging marching across the face, tooth decay, uncontrolled cravings for other foods and substances, problems with eyesight, heart diseases, mood swings and weight gain are the other alarming irritants that Dr El Katem lists as results of sugar addiction.

"That is why we stress that out of all the indulgent foods, curbing your appetite towards sugar will have a most profound effect on many aspects of your health and appearance," she says.

Tips offered include:

·         Regular glucose analysis for all ages

·         If necessary, reduce the sugar intake, gradually: if you normally have three spoonfuls of sugar in your daily cup of tea or coffee, start by reducing it by a quarter, then another quarter, etc. Going cold turkey is never a good idea!

·         A reduction of caffeine-loaded beverages will also decrease the sugar craving

·         Sticking to the rule of thumb of a maximum of six to seven spoonfuls per day

·         Opting for kinds of fruits that are less loaded with sugar, like apples, oranges and strawberries

·         When necessary, going for an artificial sweetener in foods and beverages could be part of the solution, although you should research the side effects of these artificial options


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