Leading health experts, concerned citizens, seek to make Halloween healthy, raise awareness of sugar’s addictive qualities.
Amid increasing concern about the health impacts of sugar over consumption, and particularly the addictive qualities of sugar, the first annual Sugar Addiction Awareness Day (SAAD) is kicking off October 30, 2011. The effort, supported by many leading physicians, researchers, nutritionists, and obesity experts, promotes a fun but sugar-free Halloween and aims to raise awareness of the potentially dangerous, and addictive, effects of excessive sugar consumption, especially for young people.
“Halloween candy seems like an innocent treat, but the reality is that millions of Americans are hooked on refined sugars, and it starts in their youth,” Jill Escher, founder of SAAD and author of the book, Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss. “Chronic sugar consumption is a big contributor to the sweeping epidemics of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes we see today. I am excited to stand with many leading lights in supporting Sugar Addiction Awareness Day as a big step forward in helping people break the cycle of sugar dependence.”
Over two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight, with over one-third obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Approximately one-third of U.S. children and teens are now overweight, with 17% obese. Rates of type 2 diabetes, a disease of uncontrolled blood sugars, are skyrocketing: according to the CDC, as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue.
A silent culprit here, says a growing chorus of experts, is an unwitting addiction to sugary foods and beverages and processed carbs, all of which can have a drug-like impact.
“Kids eat junk food because it tastes good and is readily available, but, in the process their brains develop changes to keep the behavior going, which eventually may result in being unable to stop eating the foods, i.e., an actual addiction,” says Robert Pretlow, M.D., an authority on childhood obesity. Research on rat models (Avena) and human brain scans (Gearhardt), for example, has demonstrated neurochemical changes and patterns indicative of addiction.
Many clinicians now see sugar dependence as a pervasive problem among their clientele. “Because of food manufacturing practices, people can no longer stop with one,” says Darlene Kvist, Licensed Nutritionist and host of the popular podcast, Dishing Up Nutrition. “Addiction to sugar and processed carbohydrates is rampant today. The true solution to the obesity crisis and sugar addiction is helping people learn to eat real food again.”
Obesity expert Zoe Harcombe, nutritionist and author of The Obesity Epidemic, says the time to kick sugar addiction is now. “The good news is that freedom from sugar addiction is worth every second of withdrawal thousands of times over.”
SAAD’s website provides ideas and inspiration for kicking the sugar habit at Halloween, and throughout the year–in the community, at school, at work, and at home.