Why sugar intake can be deadly – Nutritionist

June 4, 2024

The President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Prof. Wasiu Afolabi, has advised Nigerians to reduce their consumption of sugar to guard against coming down with non-communicable diseases.

The Professor of Community Nutrition, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, said high intake of sugar is deadly and has also been identified as one of the greatest threats to cardiovascular diseases.

Afolabi said the reduction in sugar intake would reduce the risk of getting incurable diseases.

According to him,  consumption of too much sugar together with salt has been one of the major factors contributing to high blood pressure and other related diseases.

The nutritionist who spoke exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise said people with high sugar intake were at risk of inflammation, cancer, diabetes, and fatty liver disease.

The don also said Nigerians should avoid beverages with added sugar such as fizzy drinks, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, flavoured milk, and many sugar-sweetened juices.

He said, “If excessive sugar is consumed, it could also affect blood pressure in the body.

“Also, we also know that sugar when consumed in excess is converted into a storage form. You know sugar itself is a carbohydrate,  if it is in excess, it converts the storage form into glycogen, and some of it can be converted into fat and so increase the weight of an individual.

“We also know when weight increases, it can cause obesity which is also a risk factor for diabetes mellitus.”

According to the World Health Organisation,  consuming too much sugar impacts negatively health, stressing high sugar intake increases unhealthy weight gain, heightens the risk of diseases, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and damages teeth, causing dental caries.

The Global Health Body also said simple or free sugars compromise the nutrient quality of diets — by providing significant energy without essential nutrients.

According to the WHO, even fruit juices can have very high sugar content and should be consumed in moderation.

The nutritionist also noted that excessive sugar consumption can also manifest as fatty liver by accumulating fat around the liver.

“Also,  when sugar is consumed excessively, it provides an avenue for inflammation which can reduce the immunity of the body and make it susceptible to infection as well as other communicable diseases like cancer.

“When you look at most developed countries of the world where they consume foods that are very high in sugar and salt, diseases like cancer, diabetes, and obesity used to be known as diseases of wealthy countries.

“But unfortunately,  it crossed into our system now because of changes in our dietary habits whereby people are consuming sugar-sweetened beverages and different kinds of foods that are high in sugar,  salt, and calories”, he said.

Afolabi advised Nigerians to shun excessive sugar consumption and embrace a healthy lifestyle by eating healthily.

In a 2022 article published in Pubmed Central Journal, the researchers said high sugar intake has been identified as a potential environmental risk factor for the increased incidence of many non-communicable diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

The authors added, “The consumption of high-sugar beverages and processed foods has increased significantly over the past 30 years.

“We concluded that revealing the roles that excessive intake of hexose has on the regulation of human inflammatory diseases are fundamental questions that need to be solved urgently.”


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