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How Added Sugar is Driving the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

If you’ve been struggling for a strong enough reason for you and your family to quit added sugar, this one’s for you. Our kids are experiencing obesity at soaring rates and there’s one culprit that holds much of the blame – it’s tiny, ubiquitous and addictive. It’s sugar.

The state of obesity around the globe is dire – particularly childhood obesity. We’ve got 1 in 6 Aussie kids living with this condition, and we know from research that targeted junk food marketing campaigns take on a lot of the blame for introducing the little ones to the sweet stuff. But first, let’s unpack what happens to children when they consume sugar in excess. Due to the role of the liver in metabolising fructose, an excess can lead to the build-up of visceral fat. This is the worst kind of fat which wraps around the organs and puts kids at risk for fatty liver disease and obesity. Excess sugar consumption can even cause mental health conditions like anxiety and depression due to the effect sugar has on hormones, with one study finding the incidence of depression to be higher in those who consumed more sugar. Another shows that people who drank 2 sugary soft drinks a day had cortisol levels 22% higher than those who did not, indicating a link between sugar and stress hormone production.

But quitting sugar isn’t easy. Excessive sugar intake can have long-term consequences like leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that signals satiety to the brain, and without this, many are left unable to suppress their appetite. Plus, we know sugar is addictive – it starts when dopamine is released in the brain in response to the sugar, which has been found to evoke a stronger reward response than drugs like cocaine. Many get caught up in a cycle of dopamine-seeking behaviour, and children have less power to fight it, considering their prefrontal cortex hasn’t fully developed yet, meaning their impulse control is inhibited.

When kids “pester” their parents to buy junk food, usually after being inundated with advertising, many parents relent just to get some peace. But the long-term issues are serious, with chronic diseases on the rise. 4 to 6-year-olds reportedly think foods with a cartoon character on the box taste better, and are more likely to ask for these products – and where do we see cartoon characters on food products? On cereal boxes and junk food – both of which are laden with sugar. The issue here is that kids are being targeted from a young age and forming poor eating habits when they should be focusing on eating whole, nutritious food. It’s these patterns that are driving the obesity epidemic, with more kids than ever living with the condition. What’s changed? Their diets. Foods are more heavily processed than ever, with foods labelled healthy hiding a hit of sugar – think muesli bars and yoghurt.

The solution

Loading up on whole foods and getting daily exercise are two essentials for kids. Kids’ lunches should be made from real foods – think whole veggies, fruit, whole grains, legumes and fermented foods. It’s also important for them to be getting a good dose of physical activity – we know it can be hard when they’ve got a long day at school, but extracurriculars or family walks are great ways to make exercise fun. Things are a little more complicated if you and your family are finding yourselves hooked on sugar – but as hard as it may be to shake a sugar addiction, it’s not impossible – especially if you reach out for help. Seeking the help of a healthcare professional may be beneficial in overcoming your sugar addiction, along with finding a supportive group to make this big change with. That’s what we’re here for!

It’s no secret that a sugar habit is a tough one to beat – wherever you go, sugar is there. Unlike with ditching alcohol, there are few places where sugar is unwelcome. From birthday parties and functions to the office pantry, Sunday markets and the supermarket. Is it any wonder that so many of us find it hard to quit the stuff? That’s why it can help to join a program like ours – our 8-Week Program is based on accountability, support and providing the essential resources to set you up for success. We’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining.

We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
  2. 90+ member-only recipes.
  3. Community forums to share your journey.
  4. Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
  5. Exclusive content from our panel of experts.

So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!Top of Form


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