Students at Ohio State might want to take a closer look at the food they consume on campus, as reports of sugar being a toxin are debated.
A viral YouTube video called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” has generated more than 2 million views, which highlights Dr. Robert Lustig’s, a professor of pediatrics from the University of California, concern for Americans that they are consuming too much sugar. He said that excess sugar has a harmful effect and warns people to eat less of it.
The reports show that Americans are consuming about 130 pounds of added sugars per person, per year, which comes out to about 58,000 grams of sugar.
People have a natural affinity to sweeter foods and over–consumption can begin at a young age and stay with someone throughout their entire life.
Julie Kennel, program director for the Department of Human Nutrition at OSU, recognizes the threat that there is an over–consumption of sugar leading to health complications from obesity, but does not think it is necessarily “toxic.”
“One of the major issues with obesity is its link to Type 2 diabetes,” Kennel said. “It can then lead to further complications like kidney disease, amputations and blindness. Eventually it will lead to increased risk of heart disease and cancer.”
Christine Kaiser, a first-year in communication, knows all too well the threats of diabetes because she said it runs in her family. She tries to make healthier options when visiting her lunch spot at Union Market.
“Diabetes runs in my family, I personally don’t have it, but some of my relatives do,” Kaiser said. She tries to not have sweets all the time like soda and candy.
Healthy sugars from natural sources like fructose in fruits and lactose in milk are the sugars that people should be consuming, and not the refined sugars like sucrose that is in table sugar.
Kennel is reluctant to call sugar toxic, but understands that excess amounts do lead to health problems. She said most Americans are not probably aware of how much sugar they consume and thinks nutritional labels for restaurants, especially on campus, might be beneficial.
“We have some evidence that providing nutritional information at the point of purchase is beneficial in terms of people making healthier choices,” Kennel said. “I know that you can look it up on an app, but that does involve some forethought.”
She recommends that people have no more than 5 – 15 percent of their total calories come from added sugars and solid fats. Current reports show that people have 35 percent of their calories from these sources, which needs to be cut down by at least half to reach the dietary guidelines.
Sarah Hetterscheidt, a first-year in food science, thinks a good balance between diet and exercise is what students need to stay healthy while at college.
“(Students should) try to eat like one less sweet than you normally would in a day and drink less soda,” Hetterscheidt said.
The dining services available on this campus are vast and offer many different options for students; Kennel wants to work with them even more to facilitate an overall healthier campus.
“I think there is still room on this campus to improve the offerings (of healthier food choices),” Kennel said. “Our department works with dining services and is continuing to kind of bridge that relationship to continue to offer ways in which that can be done or supported.”