The sugary truth

What is food addiction?

Dr. Robert Lustig´s eye-opening research influenced the making of this video. Dr. Lustig is on the faculty of the International School for Food Addiction Counseling And Treatement (INFACT).

The Tremendousness Collective, a visual storytelling firm based in St. Louis, Missouri, designed this explanatory video to help people understand the cold, hard facts about what the over-consumption of added sugars does to our health.

The American Heart Association’s daily recommended sugar allowance is 36 grams for men, 20 grams for women, and 12 grams for kids. Did you know that our daily intake averages 95 grams? We have a serious problem. There are about 600,000 different packaged food items in grocery stores today — and 80% of them contain added sugars.


Look at these cute little guys. So sweet and delicious. You just wanna eat ‘em up, right? That’s the problem. We consume so much sugar these days, that it’s killing us. Seriously. You see, sugar is everywhere. It’s in all the usual suspects but you might not realize that it’s in a lot of other foods. Did you know that our daily intake averages 95 grams? That might not sound like a lot, but it adds up to 77 pounds of added sugar every year.

Now look at The American Heart Association’s daily recommendations, it’s no wonder in 3 adults and 1 in 5 kids are obese. It’s not just because sugar tastes good; it’s also addictive. Consuming it — even thinking about it — causes a euphoric effect that triggers the production of dopamine in your brain, a neurotransmitter that controls pleasure and is responsible for reward motivated behavior.

Studies show sugar is as addictive as alcohol or cocaine. And it’s hard to avoid. There are about 600,000 different packaged food items in grocery stores today — and 80% of them contain added sugars. But what we drink could be our biggest problem. Guzzle just one of these beverages and you’ve more than filled your daily recommended sugar allowance. It’s tricky. Did you know that food manufacturers use more than 30 different names for the most common sugars? So what’s the problem?
Well, sugars are carbohydrates that are roughly half glucose and half fructose. Consuming glucose makes your pancreas secrete a hormone called insulin, which, among other things, causes your body to store fat. Your liver deals with the fructose, but it can’t do it in the quantities many of us consume today. It releases some of it as fat, but most of that backs up in your liver cells. Now you’ve got a condition called insulin resistance.

You’re secreting more and more insulin in response to all the carbs in your diet and even the proteins. The result you get fatter, and you get fatty build-up in your now inflamed arteries. You’re what some doctors call metabolically disturbed. Your body can no longer regulate itself. Eventually it will kill you! Along the way, your pancreas might give out and you’ll become diabetic. And there’s reason to believe that metabolic disturbances cause high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and of course, obesity. Well, the good news is that there are 5 simple things you can do to avoid and reverse the damage:

Number 1: avoid sugary drinks. All that glucose and fructose literally is an assault on your system. Give tea or carbonated water a try. Something besides processed sugar water. Why drink all your calories?
Number 2: read labels carefully. Yes, processed foods are convenient — but often they’re loaded with sugar and provide little nutrition.
Number 3: exercise a little. It may not seem like much but a daily ½ hour walk helps reduce stress and control your blood sugar (and cravings).
Number 4: don’t trust processed “low-fat” foods. Guess what? The missing fat is usually replaced by salt and sugar. And your body just converts the added sugar into fat after you eat.
And number 5: eat more fiber. Try to eat at least 25-30 grams of fiber every day. Fiber rich foods typically are high in vitamins and antioxidants and keep you feeling full longer.

Hey, it just comes down to making smarter choices. The foods you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.

The Sugary Truth

From The Video makers

We’re especially grateful for advice and information from Gary Taubes. His expertise helped guide us in making a movie we hope will become a conversation starter for people everywhere. Our goal was to make a short film that didn’t just trot out the sugar quantities in our food; we wanted to tell this story on a more personal level so people can see themselves — and their friends and families — in it.

The Tremendous Collective is a visual communications firm that specializes in storytelling, education & understanding. Founded in 2013 by five highly creative people, we are a veteran group of designers, journalists, facilitators, artists, writers, & entrepreneurs. With over 65 years of combined experience as visual thinkers & storytellers, we share a passion for helping others understand complicated products, processes, inventions, & ideas.

​Small print

Food Addiction Institute welcomes contributions to our blog for the purposes of increasing awareness about food addiction and abstinence based recovery solutions to food addiction. Blog posts may point to other websites and cite relevant and newsworthy information related to forwarding food addiction informed awareness. FAI does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of blog post content or external links.

Download the infographic on sugar consumption statistics.