At present, researchers lay the stress on the fact that sugar is considered to be the major component of most nutritious and balanced diets. Moreover, sugar is not only a valuable source or energy, but a source of income as well as it is usually distributed for commercial purposes. However, despite numerous benefits of sugar as a commodity and as a profitable sphere of business, sugar receives numerous blames for health and environmental issues. This paper aims to establish and describe the negative impacts of sugar on human health and environmental situation.
Sugar is considered to be a unique commodity, because it can be obtained from two different crops that are equally competing for the same market niche. In other words, cane that in the majority of cases is cultivated in poor tropical areas as well as sugar beet, which is grown is wealthy countries with temperate climate, are the primary sources of sugar (2000). More than 80% of sugar is obtained from cane and sugar beet. Despite the fact that sugar cane and sugar beet bring numerous positive changes to human health and society, in general, sugar industry makes people suffer. For instance, working in sugar plantations is exhausting, back-breaking, and underpaid (2000). In order to convince that the consumption of such commodity as sugar should be minimized, numerous health and environmental hazards have to be described.
The majority of humans are characterized by a natural inclination to take delight in the sweet taste of such commodity as sugar. Many companies and corporations add enormous amounts of sugar to their products in order to increase the amounts of their sales, and, consequently, their profits. However, researchers have managed to prove that sugar is one of the major causes of incurable and health-threatening diseases and health problems.
- Firstly, sugar is the main enemy of the overweight people. In addition, due to its negative influence on hormones and development of a human brain, sugar is responsible for harmful fat-promoting effects (Gunnars, 2012). Besides, excessive consumption of sugar makes people addicted to this commodity, as a large percentage of people find it difficult to control the amounts of their sugar consumption. Not only food, but sugary drinks influence the weight gain. For instance, according to the research results, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of weight gain by more than 60 % (Gunnars, 2012). According to the recent investigations, every can of Coke or Pepsi contains at least nine teaspoons of sugar. Moreover, even Heinz tomato soup is not deprived of this component as the number of teaspoons in this soup equals four (Kobayashi, 2014).
- Secondly, medical workers around the world are convinced that sugar consumption increases the threat of dental decay. In other words, sugar includes numerous dangerous components that are characterized by high acidity and, consequently, can erode the enamel of the teeth. Besides, doctors recommend brushing the teeth before the process of eating of various sugary snacks in order to minimize damage to the teeth (Gunnars, 2012).
- Thirdly, it has been proved that consumption of sugar results in numerous serious and, in some cases, incurable diseases that decrease the quality of life as well as people’s lifespan. For instance, one of the components of sugar called fructose constantly overloads the liver and, consequently, causes liver diseases. Such disease as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with overconsumption of sugar (Gunnars, 2012). Furthermore, this health problem is the main cause of metabolic disorders. Besides, excessive use of sugary products increases the insulin resistance of a human organism. It is rather important to note the fact that insulin deficiency is considered to be the driving force of numerous lethal diseases, including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, and even various types of diabetes (Gunnars, 2012).
- Finally, taking into account the opinions of experts in the sphere of medicine, excessive sugar intake is the major driving force of cancer (Gunnars, 2012). At present, cancer is considered to be the main cause of the increased death rate around the globe. Such lethal disease as cancer is characterized by uncontrollable growth as well as multiplication and distribution of cells in a human organism. That is why sugar is often compared to a “new tobacco” that increased the number of cancer victims (Gunnars, 2012). As a result, is may be assumed that sugar is a “delayed-action bomb” that not only feeds, but causes numerous bothersome health problems, including decay of teeth, diabetes, excessive weight, problems with metabolism, and liver overload.
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As well as any other agricultural commodity, sugar influences the environmental situation in a negative way:
- Firstly, it is rather important to take into account the fact that the process of burning sugar increases the air pollution. For example, Brazil and India, which are included into the list of major producers of sugar cane, suffer from a poor quality of air (2000).
- Secondly, this widespread commodity, which is cultivated in more than 120 countries around the world, is characterized by a carbon footprint. In other words, according to recent calculations, production of every gram of sugar results in the emission of 0,6 g of CO2 into the atmosphere. Besides, a significant carbon footprint occurs not only during extraction, but in the process of cultivation as well as transportation (Vijayaraghavan, 2011).
- Thirdly, cultivation of this agricultural commodity on the territories of tropical islands as well coastal areas contributes to the loss of biodiversity, especially due to the massive fish kills (Sugarcane, 2015). Numerous rare species of fish are under threat of extinction because of the water wastes. In other words, sugar mills release tons of poisonous substances into water resulting in the death of fish and numerous reptiles that live in these areas (Sugarcane, 2015).
- Fourthly, cultivation and processing of sugar cane promote damage to huge masses of ecologically sound areas. Cultivation of sugar cane requires enormous amounts of lands. Consequently, huge territories covered with rainforests and mangroves are cut for the sole purpose to increase the amounts of sugar cane plantations (2000). Sugar mills release such harmful substances as soot, ash, ammonia, and even flue gases during sugar processing.
- Finally, cultivation of sugar cane results in drying out soils, which causes such serious environmental problems as soil erosion and degradation (Sugarcane, 2015).
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As a result, having analyzed numerous health and environmental threats posed by sugar industry, it is possible to make a conclusion that production as well as consumption of sugar should be reduced to a minimum. This commodity may be compared to a “silent killer” that does not contain nutrients, proteins, and healthy fats. On the contrary, sugar causes a “metabolic disaster”, feeds cancer cells, and triggers the excessive weight gain as well as tooth decay. To make a long story short, this commodity increases the chances to die at an early age. Besides, cultivation, processing, and transportation of sugar cane and sugar beet damage our environment, as it releases harmful substances and gases into the atmosphere, water, and soil. With the unique purpose to present a gift of life to numerous endangered species of animals, and to save the beauty and quality of the environment for future generations, modern society is obliged to revalue sugar. Maybe, it is high time the entire humanity stopped ignoring this urgent issue and came to their senses admitting that sugar has always been a poison slowly killing everything alive on the Earth, including animals, humans, and nature.
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