Is Sugar Addictive Or Are We Just Getting It Wrong?

So lets be clear from the outset…Sugar can be consumed in moderation, and it will not cause Diabetes, Heart disease or any other acute or chronic condition on its own. The problems come when sugar is consumed in excess (like with most things) i.e. more than 200g/day or 30% of dietary energy intake. Intakes that exceed this should be avoided because this can lead to elevated plasma concentrations of glucose, insulin and lipids…and this will increase the risk of Diabetes and other chronic conditions (Department of Health, 2008).

A study published in the British Medical Journal investigated the link between sugar and weight gain. Quite simply it found that a reduction of sugar in ones diet resulted in a reduction in weight of around 1kg in adults. The study also found a link between sugar and persistent sugar consumption i.e. the more sugar you consume the more it makes you want to eat more, which asks the question ‘is sugar addictive’?

The problem with sugar is that it just tastes so damn good to humans, and Professor Robert Lustig stated:

"Sugar covers up the other four [tastes on our tongue], so you can't taste the negative aspects of foods. You can make dog poop taste good with enough sugar."

My governing body (The British Dietetic Association) states the following:

"Some research suggests that sugary drinks make it harder for us to regulate the overall amount of calories eaten and a regular intake may be a factor contributing to obesity in children."

So whether sugar is addictive, or whether we simply aren’t applying enough discipline in our everyday lives, sugar MUST be cut down in adults, and in particular children’s diets.


Department of Health, (2008). Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. Sugars. London: TSO

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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