Sugar book fascinating – and scary

Tuesday January 16, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

I have just finished reading a book on sugar written by Damon Gameau, the same man who made the film on sugar that was shown in schools not so long ago.


For all the parents who did not get to see this movie it would be a good one to view, or else read the book. It is fascinating and scary all at once.

The main focus is on sugar and how bad it is for our health, but more importantly how many so-called ‘healthy’ foods have a lot of sugar in them.

With our nationwide health being very poor, it is a subject we all need to be aware of so we can be better informed and make better decisions for ourselves and our children.

I have said it before and I will say it again: if we want people to mind their health we need to present information in a way that is simple, attractive and easy to comprehend.

Therefore, I suggest pictures from the sugar book be added to the posters in the dentist’s waiting room that show how many teaspoons of sugar are in most of the drinks we consume daily, and which we let our children drink way too often.

Diabetes is a killer in the Cook Islands and our Health ministry spends almost 90 per cent of its budget on dealing with the resultant consequences of this disease, which in the main could be curbed by reducing our sugar intake.

When I was growing up my aunty used to make doughnuts for us to eat with a cup of tea for our breakfast.

Not exactly the healthiest combination, but I do remember that we were a tea-drinking nation in New Zealand way back then, and if you had a cup of tea with half a teaspoon of sugar that was OK. But if you wanted one or two teaspoons of sugar you would say, “Oh, I have a sweet tooth”.

What has changed today is that we now have drinks with way more teaspoons of sugar in them every day, without thinking twice about it.

Some of our sports drinks that we think are healthy contain as much as 10-15 teaspoons of sugar.

This is a big problem, as these drinks are designed to go down much easier than it is to drink a cup of tea with 10 teaspoons of sugar in it – which would turn into a thick, sickly syrup.

If all we did was focus on educating our community on the effects of sugar in drinks and the benefits of going back to drinking water or nu, or even tea with one teaspoon of sugar, we would be doing our health statistics a favour nationwide.

If pictures were printed in the paper showing that one can of a certain soft drink per day equals six kilos of fat weight every year, plus the associated problems that come with it like diabetes, more people might take notice.

The sugar book and movie proved that eating fat does not make you fat (it does other nasty things), but eating lots of sugar is guaranteed to make you obese.

If young people realised that one can of energy drink a day does not keep the doctor away, but instead puts on 10 kilos of fatty tissue around your waist and hips per year, maybe they will start to change their habits.

We have a population of obese children, teens and adults.

This didn’t happen overnight – it has been growing over the past 50 years.

We were a healthy nation in the 1970s but with a change in lifestyle and diet we are now one of the unhealthiest nations in the world.

Not all of our problems can be solved by reducing sugar intake, but a large number of them will and it is a great place to start, because changing our high levels of sugar consumption will result in healthy bodies, minds and teeth for everyone.

Just try it yourself. Take out all the sugary drinks from your diet and substitute them with water, nu or soda water, and notice the difference.

            Ruta Tangiiau Mave



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