Tuesday, August 28, 2012

‘The Fix: How addiction is invading our lives and taking over your world’ by Damian Thompson

"In February 2011, a team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, published a report in the journal Nature entitled 'Public health: The toxic truth about sugar'. This dismissed the popular notion of sugar as 'empty' calories. On the contrary, they were bad calories. 'A little is not a problem, but a lot kills – slowly,' said the authors, who went on to propose that sugary foods should be taxed and their sales to children under 17 controlled.'
"We have known for years that refined sugar is also implicated in damaging the liver and kidneys and is the main cause of the worldwide spread of Type 2 diabetes. 'If these results were obtained in experiments with any illegal drug, they would certainly be used to justify the most severe form of retribution against those unfortunate enough to be caught in possession of such a dangerous substance,' writes Michael Gossop of the National Addiction Centre at King's College, London.'
"But is sugar actually a drug? Gossop thinks so. If a casual visitor from another galaxy were to drop in on planet earth, he would assume that human beings were even heavier drug users than we already are. Why? Because vast numbers of us ingest a white crystalline substance several times a day. We become agitated if we run out of supplies, and produce lame excuses for why we need another dose. We say we rely on it for 'energy,' but we're deluding ourselves. The energy rush form sugar is followed by a corresponding crash: it's physiologically useless. But it is strongly reminiscent of the ups and downs associated with, say, cocaine.'
"The idea that sugar has some of the psychoactive qualities of recreational drugs is looking more and more credible. One of the major research findings of the past decade has been that sugar can turn rats into classic addicts. A team of scientists from the psychology department of Princeton University put rats on an intermittent diet of large quantities of sugar solution in addition to their normal food. The diet was intermittent because the researchers wanted to see what would happen when the rats were deprived of sugar. The answer was that they went into withdrawal, quivering with anxiety like a junkie deprived of his fix. And when the sugar reappeared, they binged."
(pp. 106-8, 'The Fix: How addiction is invading our lives and taking over your world' by Damian Thompson – Harper)

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