January 19, 2023

Professor Susan Jebb, chair of the UK Food Standards Agency said that bringing treats and snacks into the office wasn’t creating a supportive environment for people wanting to lose or control weight. 

She also said that offering regular treats such as cake is as bad as subjecting your work mates to passive smoking. That is quite some statement!

Initially it was not known about smoking, but cigarettes have been found to cause:

  • Throat, stomach, lung, bladder, and pancreatic cancers
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – COPD

Even with all these associated diseases, people still smoke because cigarettes are addictive.

Is sugar addictive and can it lead to associated diseases as well?

Sugar is found in carbohydrates. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables which have naturally occurring sugar and contain fibre may slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, reducing an insulin response.

However, far too many people consume carbohydrates found in processed and packaged foods. Think coca cola, juice, chocolate, lollies, biscuits, cake, cereals, bread, flavoured yoghurt, smoothies, sauces, baked beans, honey, high fructose corn syrup and agave.

Once consumed, sugar is broken down to glucose and fructose and released into the bloodstream. Insulin is then released to absorb the excess glucose in the blood to stabilize sugar levels. Any excess sugar not used as energy is stored as body fat in the liver and muscles or converted to fat and stored in the fat cells. 

Excess insulin also blocks the release of energy from the fat cells. This explains why many people who carry extra weight (stored energy) often run low on energy.

Continually eating a high sugar (carbohydrate) diet can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Foods that combine highly processed carbs and vegetable oils (fat) are even worse. Think donuts, croissants, and most muffins.

Over time our cells can become resistant to insulin and struggle to absorb glucose from the blood so this can affect our pancreas, kidneys, lead to high blood pressure and even brain, heart, and eye disease.

Sugar messes up our taste buds and studies have shown that sugar can be as addictive as nicotine and cocaine.

High in sugar and fat processed foods are a reason why two thirds of our population are overweight or obese, a proportion that has doubled in the past three decades. In Britain a fifth of children are already overweight by the time they start school.

These statistics are horrifying and very similar here in Australia and New Zealand.

The average adult consumes twice the daily recommendation of sugar from a combination of foods that contain naturally occurring sugars and foods that contain added sugars.

Professor Jebb urged doctors to be more willing to broach the topic of patients’ weight and offer diet help, saying it was bad for the nation’s health that medics “mostly ignore it”. If someone is carrying excess weight around the waistline, it’s a reliable indicator of insulin resistance (early diabetes) and the doctor should discuss it.

Many patients who have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer are overweight. Some cheap interventions yield huge benefits, including a well-formulated low carb eating plan that can put type 2 diabetics into remission.

Workplaces should also be doing more for people’s health. Taking cake into the office is as harmful as passive smoking and encourages people to overeat according to Professor Jebb. 

Businesses that market sugar-containing processed food and drinks have the biggest influence on people’s behaviour. These foods are both addictive and profitable. The businesses with the biggest marketing budget win this war. Be warned. Is this fair?

It may not be fair, but we also have a responsibility to look after our own weight and health. 

Take responsibility, be willing to hold yourself to account, be curious about how your body responds to different foods, be open to learning and growing. If you’re not good at holding yourself to account, you should check out services like ours that do exactly this.

If you’re ready but not sure what to do that’s where our coaches can help. 

Fill out the form below if you’re ready to lose weight and gain better health outcomes with our proven, easy to follow program.