Select Sidearea

Populate the sidearea with useful widgets. It’s simple to add images, categories, latest post, social media icon links, tag clouds, and more.

[email protected]

Why Are We Getting Our Kids Hooked on Sugar?

Emma Tekstra > Children  > Why Are We Getting Our Kids Hooked on Sugar?

Why Are We Getting Our Kids Hooked on Sugar?

Last week I was dropping off my older son to start his freshman year at college and got to spend a couple of days on the beautiful campus getting him settled in. His unlimited meal plan includes some guest passes so we ate together at one of the dining halls. I have to say I was fairly horrified at the poor food options with the most prominent sections offering cookies, donuts and pizza. It was 11am!


Alone in my hotel room that night I ended up watching Painkiller on Netflix. This is a dramatization of the rise of Oxycontin and the opioid crisis in the US. It’s told from the point of view of Richard Sackler, arguably responsible for inflicting Oxy on the world. (The award-winning Dopesick on Hulu is a less over-the-top telling of the same story). Sackler’s excuse for staying out of jail is that he merely provided what people wanted; legal heroin to stop the pain. (The chilling 8-hour deposition of the real Richard Sackler can be watched online).  He claims it was (and still is) their fault for getting addicted resulting in untold suffering as good people become common junkies and often end up dying from overdoses.


Is it really any different with sugar?

Sugar has been proven to be more addictive than heroin.

It releases dopamine and endogenous opioids in the brain using the same mechanism. Sugar changes your metabolism and your brain chemistry. Cravings are intense once your intake gets to a high level. It is just as difficult to kick a sugar habit particularly given the wide availability everywhere you turn. And sugar kills. Maybe more slowly than opioids but it is the main culprit in diabetes and heart disease. It damages the liver (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is on the rise – even in children!). It promotes cancer. It down-regulates your immune system leaving you susceptible to infections. And the damage it inflicts on your brain leads to an increased risk for dementia.


Our kids go to college to learn. Shouldn’t that include teaching them how to eat right and look after their bodies? Their brains might just function a bit better if they were getting some nutrients. (Did you know glucose competes with vitamin C for absorption? One reason why sugar makes you more susceptible to illness). Oh I know they are adults and now responsible for their own health and food choices. But that’s the same argument Richard Sackler makes.


There is absolutely no need to have a dessert table at 11am in the morning. Fruit loops and other big box cereals are not food. My son is compelled to eat in the dining hall as that is all I am paying for. He’ll eat whatever is there. Fortunately, he does not have the taste for sugar as it wasn’t available in our house. (Before you feel sorry for him, we still had yummy treats occasionally. Homemade brownies with almond flour and coconut oil hit the spot; cheesecake even showed up at times). I just hope he doesn’t succumb to the sugar-pushers on campus.


Two days after I had returned home he was texting me complaining he couldn’t find any decent food with some fresh vegetables. This actually surprised me as while he’s not into sugar he’s rather partial to burgers and fries of which there were plenty. The good food might be there but it’s well hidden with the toxic stuff far more accessible. Surely colleges won’t have a revolt on their hands if they promote healthier food in the dining hall. The students may not even realize they are gradually being weaned of their sugar habits if it is done in the right way.


We like to joke about the freshman fifteen referring to the extra pounds many freshman put on once exposed to these unlimited dining halls.  But I just find it incredibly sad we are joking about turning our young people with the brightest futures into junkies.

If you have kids in college (or are an employer with a cafeteria) I’d love to hear whether you have seen successful steps to encourage better behaviors.

Emma Tekstra
No Comments

Post a Comment