Diabetes Epidemic Linked to Sugar Overconsumption

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Together with heart disease, cancer, and stroke (1st, 2nd, and 4th), they account for nearly 1.4 million deaths annually. According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States; that is 8.3% of the population,  have diabetes. Moreover, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010 and it is increasing at an alarming rate, with a prediction of diabetes patients to double in the next 25 years. Diabetes can cause a series of complications from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, to kidney disease. How did America become so obese? The answer is easy: all these major killers share a similar cause- sugars.

Sugar is hidden everywhere in our food chain. If you look in the supermarket today, almost all processed food that promises to get rid of fat completely replaces it with sugar to compensate for flavor. This was because in the 1970’s, there was a debate of whether to allow one or the other; sugar won. However, too much sugar in an organism also causes insulin to convert it into fat, and thus the cycle begins. Indeed the problem is so serious that the United States declared that these three chronic diseases costs more in worldwide healthcare  than infectious diseases, accounting for 35 million deaths annually. Diabetes alone cause $65 billion in lost productivity, and $150 billion on health-care resources annually. Furthermore, because 75% of military applicants are now rejected for obesity-related reasons, the US surgeons general and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff have declared obesity a “threat to national security”.

Robert H.Lustig and other researchers published their research results about sugar and its link between these diseases in Nature. To go into detail on how sugar is poisoning us, you can watch the video below of a 7 videos series, which explains in detail what happens biochemically in our body when we consume sugar. The solution to this epidemic might just be in our diet.


Robert H. Lustig, MD, is a University of California San Francisco Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and explores the damage caused by sugary foods.