Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sugar as addictive as cocaine - let's get tough on sugar

"CORNFLAKES, biscuits and soft drinks may be as addictive as cigarettes," reports the Sydney Morning Herald this morning...

"Dr Thornley said evidence showed people who binged on high-carb foods experienced symptoms of addiction - loss of control, a compulsion to keep taking higher amounts to get the same buzz - and suffered withdrawal if they went cold turkey.

"And like those addicted to cocaine and alcohol, people with a higher body mass index had fewer brain pleasure receptors..."

Our hearts must go out to those poor people suffering the degradation of a life controlled by high GI foods. They face a future of obesity, diabetes, rotten teeth and constant ridicule because of their weight.

Obviously the government must immediately move to get tough on high GI foods, begin burning and poisoning sugar-cane crops, and jailing growers and dealers. We need mandatory biscuit searches at schools, airports and fast food restaurants using sniffer dogs and blood testing. Shut down any business selling these evil substances.

I look forward to a worldwide "War against Heavily Processed Carbohydrates". Obviously the lives of addicts would be further degraded by the prohibition, but you know you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Then we might see fat people dealing in Pepsi and mugging others for the cash to pay for black market corn flakes, biscuits and soft drinks.

But no worries, we can mount propaganda campaigns that associate this behaviour with the substance and so cement public opinion behind a prohibition approach.

We could come up with studies that show sugar leads to illicit drug use - 100% of people studied would have consumed sugar before trying harder drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy. In fact those drugs would probably be sold by illegal ANZAC cookie dealers who might also lace their cookies with other drugs as there would be no regulatory control.

"Soft on sugar" advocates might promote rehabilitation facilities with a saccharine substitute program and optional liposuction. On the other hand we might see radical abstentionists forming groups such as "Heavily Processed Carbohydrates Free Australia". Doesn't quite have that "ring", does it.

OK, the tongue's in the cheek here but in fact all the points made above are serious and valid comment on our approaches to illicit drugs, and would stand up in a debate. Those who simply brush them aside as 'ridiculous' are, in my opinion, being dishonest to themselves.


Anonymous said...

SMH editorial 14 Jan 2007

Cut the excuses, not just the fat

EXCUSES, excuses, excuses. Yet another excuse has been put forward to account for the epidemic of obesity in modern society. This time it is a study by New Zealand scientists who argue that there is a link between obesity and a mechanism in the brain that triggers excessive eating. The scientists make an analogy between cigarettes and processed foods with a high glycaemic index, known as GI, which stimulate the same areas of the brain associated with addiction to nicotine and other drugs.

Let's not get carried away. Nicotine, in its original form in the tobacco plant, serves as a form of natural insecticide. In cigarettes, its pharmacological properties are similar to the addictive triggers found in heroin and cocaine. Nicotine is dangerous. The sugar rush produced by many high GI foods is not.

Last year The American Journal Of Psychiatry published an editorial arguing that some forms of obesity should be classified as a mental disorder. No doubt excessive eating can be a manifestation of a compulsive disorder. But for most people there is a distinction between compulsion and the alluring appeal to the senses that many high GI foods and drinks have.

If this argument of the addictive quality of high GI foods builds momentum, all manner of further government interventions are likely to be advocated. Yes, there could be more warning labels added to more junk foods. But otherwise this trend flies in the face of common sense. Some people have a problem metabolising food. Some have obsessive-compulsive disorders. Some have addictive personalities. But for the overwhelming majority who are overweight it is simply a product of behaviour: too many calories consumed and too few calories expended.

The overall problem is not physiological but behavioural. We live in a time of abundant cheap food and abundant diversions that require little physical exertion. The average size and weight of previous generations was held down by a lower standard of living and a much higher incidence of manual labour. Decades of research and government campaigns about good eating habits have made the great majority of adults aware of the difference between healthy food and junk food and the direct link between calorie intake and weight-gain.

There is a place for self-indulgence. But the idea that we cannot help ourselves when faced with the choices between excess and moderation, self-discipline and self-indulgence, or good parenting and lax parenting, is another incidence of society's creeping addiction to excuses.

The Editor said...

LOL. Is The SMH implying that yet another bunch of publicity-seeking researchers are wankers? NO!

Yet I do question the editorial's assertion that a sugar rush is not dangerous when it is clearly strong enough to overcome the ability of many to resist and leads to all the obvious health penalties.

It's easy for a thin person to just say "Get over it, eat less and move more," which is the essential message of the piece.

More seriously, drugs such as cannabis and MDMA, which are not addictive and arguably a lot less harmful (if used in moderation) than overeating, are subject to the same hyperbolic language as the sugar claims. And subject to criminal sanctions.

The tough on drugs people I converse with are now down to claiming that death from socially acceptable activities like climbing the mountain K2 – and now, no doubt, dying of diabetes – is not as bad as the potential problems of cannabis. Ridiculous.

If The SMH was consistent it would advocate the regulated legalisation of recreational drugs on exactly the same grounds as its sugar argument. Come to think of it, nicotine IS legal!

Anonymous said...


Cleo Jan 2009

Sex addiction is nothing new in Hollywood. But what about love addiction? Does it actually exist?

Believe it or not, health experts claim love addiction is a clinical medical condition, which, although seemingly far-fetched, has the potential to cause a similar degree of physical and emotional suffering as a drug or alcohol addiction.

And it’s not just A-listers who are being treated for it. In the past year, 10 to 15 per cent of admissions at Sydney’s South Pacific Private treatment centre
have involved issues relating to love addiction.

When love attacks

The checklist of symptoms reads like a painful description we can all, in some part, relate to – heart-wrenching break-ups,a desperate hunger to be in a relationship, a feeling of never being able to live without your partner.

According to therapist Dr Affie Adagio, who specialises in the dependency, the defining characteristic of love addiction is extreme behaviour and, as with other forms of addiction, the sufferer constantly strives for a high.

“Love addiction is when a person can’t help themselves and their behaviour becomes erratic and uncontrollable,” she explains. “They need to be in a relationship and will go to any lengths to get into one. Once they’re coupled up, they become neurotic and it turns into somewhat of a nightmare.”

Dr Adagio likens it to stalker-ish behaviour: “They become jealous and manipulative, and have to know where their partner is at all times. They have higher-than-usual expectations that this person will make them happy.”

The danger zone

The real trouble begins when a relationship, which has been giving them the high they crave, suddenly comes to an end. Sure, we all know what it’s like to drown in a sea of tissues over a split, but feelings of despair and abandonment probe much deeper for love addicts.

As with other addictions, there are severe withdrawals to follow, and Dr Adagio believes those who are love addicted are not emotionally mature enough to come out of a relationship without declaring war and hurting the other person.

“Usually, it’s a very painful parting,” she says. “When they achieve the high at the beginning of the relationship, it’s an endorphin release.

“Then, when they’re coming out of the relationship, they experience the opposite – a total low. They fall into the depths of depression and it can become a life-threatening condition if it isn’t treated.”

The love antidote

The best way to deal with the habit, according to Dr Adagio, is therapy. “Sufferers need help as they really can’t do it on their own,” she says. “If they isolate themselves, they’re at greater risk of becoming suicidal, especially if they’re deeply depressed.

“Their best action would be to see a therapist who can prescribe the right treatment for their depression. People are afraid of that, but this condition needs to be treated seriously.

“Unfortunately, society primes us to believe that this is a normal thing; that being in love is the way to go,” says Dr Adagio. “But, you’re going to be far happier in a relationship that isn’t so exaggerated.

“Falling in love needs to be a slower process – you meet someone, you’re both attracted to each other and then, gradually, it progresses to a commitment of intimacy. That’s the healthier way.”

The Editor said...

Jesus H. Christ. Now we have to ban love. Ex-Prime Minister Thaksin had it right in Thailand during the time they started shooting on sight people who were accused of drug dealing.

This would be easier. Anyone caught canoodling in a park: BAM!

True, an estimated 1,400 of Thaksin's 2,400 victims were innocent. But hey, what's a few deaths compared to the degradation of love addiction?

Let's hope they never realise that blogging is addictive...