If Cocaine is Considered a Drug, then Why Not Sugar?

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Junk Kills. Campaign by University of Delaware Student Marta Shakhazizian Check them out on FaceBook!

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of the Junk Kills Campaign by University of Delaware Student Marta Shakhazizian Check them out on FaceBook!

CAYENNE, FRENCH GUIANA- Anyone who has ever drank soda or eaten any baked-good can identify with the feeling that comes before and after consuming something sweet. Beforehand, you feel as if you just “have” to have it. And once you have done so, there is that temporary feeling of fulfillment that is only offset by the fact that your body tells you, later on, that it wants more. So, what if those feelings can be attributed to more than mere cravings?

A 2013 study by the National Institute of Health explored the relationship between sugar and commonly known drugs such as cocaine and hyper-palatable foods (tasty food on crack). The aim of the study was to review the viability of sugar being a drug as more legislation develops in order to tax sugar or to overall ban it.

On a neurological level, the study found that consuming sugar mimics the reward’s process that is seen when cocaine is consumed; however, on a more natural level. The scientist who conducted the study cited choice experiments, which indicated that: when rats were given the choice to self-administer cocaine or sucrose, the rats developed “a strong and persistent preference for sucrose.” And moreover, the study cites other scientific works which provide evidence supporting the relationship between sugar withdrawal and heroin withdrawal.

A 2007 study by researchers at the University of Bordeaux concluded that the neurological rewards elicited when sugar is consumed can surpass those of cocaine. And, a 2013 Connecticut College study concluded that Oreos (a food high in sugar) can be compared to drugs of abuse in lab rats. It might seem simplistic to make large conclusions about sugar being a drug when tested in rats. However, there is a reason why scientist use rats.

Rats are often chosen in lab experiments due to their small size and short lifespan. But more importantly, they are chose due to their biological and behavioral similarities to human beings. When a rat is given a choice between cocaine and sucrose and they opt for sucrose that should raise red flags in the minds of many. The National Institute of Health study concludes that there is a relationship between brain activities when drugs are consumed in comparison to hyper-palatable foods. Nevertheless, they do say that much more research has to be done in order to back this conclusion on an empirical level.

At the end of the day, even if future results end up not supporting the belief that sugar is a drug, no one can deny the correlation between the foods in our global consumption economy that are often always sweet and the rise of Type II diabetes, obesity, and other tangent illnesses.



The Politics of the School Plate


Photo Credit: Courtesy of www.nourishlife.org

Photo Credit: Courtesy of http://www.nourishlife.org

WASHINGTON, DC- With skyrocketing rates of Type II diabetes and staggering increases in healthcare costs, one would think that all parties on the Hill would be unified regarding efforts to increase the fruit and vegetable intake of students. However, objections from Republican lawmakers and several organizations to such legislation point out that the health of the nation’s children is not as important as trying to limit the reach of the federal government.

In 2010, the U.S. Congress approved the Healthy , Hunger-Free Kids Act unanimously in the Senate; but, 153 Republicans opposed it. One of the most important aspects of the federal statute is that it hopes to increase the daily intake of fruits and vegetables by the nation’s school children. Since its official roll-out date of 2014, a recent Harvard University study shows that the act has increased school children’s fruit consumption by 23 percent and vegetable consumption by 16.2 percent. This indicates a 5.75% annual increase in fruit consumption; and, a 4.05% increase in vegetable consumption per year since 2010. Metrics such as these indicate that the legislation did the very thing it was approved to do: increase the fruit and vegetable intake of school children. So, why is there opposition?

Rightly so, Republican lawmakers and several organizations have every right to call into question the role of government with any form of legislation. It is such checks that make the American political system a democratic one; and, advocate for limits on the power of politicians and transparency. However with currently 25.8 million Americans suffering from Type II diabetes, 215,000 of that 25.8 million being individuals under 20 years of age; and, a health care system costing $147 billion dollars (as to date) making it the most expensive in the world, what could possibly be wrong with the federal government approving legislation that aims to protect the health of the American people?

The very reason youhave a government is to advocate for and to protect your rights. The Declaration states that all Americans have the right to “liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.” Regardless of one’s position in this world, when your health compromises your ability to live lifeas best as you can especially when your health issues are food induced, then the government is not doing their job. When you have politicians on the Hill advocating and approving legislation that subsidies the cheap and unsafe production of foods such as soy and corn; but, objects to legislation that calls for an increase in the fruit and vegetable intake of our nation’s kids, then that is unjust. And moreover, when politicians fight harder to curtail the reach of the government instead of putting that energy into restructuring a dysfunction and monetarily costly food system, how can one ever hope to pursue happiness?