The problem with sugar culture

Rampant overconsumption of sugar leads to health problems, cognition problems, addiction

Who doesn’t cherish the sweet sugary taste of their favorite dessert? Personally, nothing beats mom’s hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top. But I could live without it. Without that delicious salad dressing at Leaf? Without the awesome greek yogurt that just became a side? Without…Ketchup? Now that’s taking it too far. Very few substances are as widely available as processed sugar, and that’s a problem.

It’s no secret that refined sugar is detrimental to our bodies. For one, overconsumption of sugar is a sure way to develop health problems like hypertension, obesity, and many kinds of cancers. Too much sugar can also negatively affect cognition, causing reduced focus and motivation. What’s more, neuroscience research demonstrates that sugar has stronger addictive properties than cocaine. So what are we doing about this?

Nothing. Sugar culture on campus not only accepts overconsumption, but enthusiastically promotes it. Free, sugary foods and drinks are a staple of any good info session, party, or social gathering. And what does free food mean? Extra meal swipe at Munchie! More sugar!

Getting rid of the toxic sugar culture is not an easy task. We love sugar; therefore, organizers have a strong incentive to offer free sugary foods to increase turnout. This Halloween is a perfect example: organizations on campus scrambled to lure students to their events with brightly colored, addictive, sugary drugs. This keeps us coming back for more.

When it comes to promoting fitness and health, excess sugar is by no means the only problem. However, given the many health risks of sugar overconsumption, it’s a problem we must address. Just as we as individuals have a responsibility to maintain our own health, campus dining halls and event organizers have a responsibility to limit the sugar they make available.

Richard Philip is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at richard.philip@vanderbilt.edu. 

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Richard Philip (‘21) writes for the opinion section of the Vanderbilt Hustler and is majoring in Economics and Public Policy. When he’s not working, Richard is probably looking at memes, stalking people on LinkedIn or getting angry about some minute detail of American policy. He prides himself in being part of not one but five different college meme pages.

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