The developed world is currently struggling with an obesity epidemic, responsible for higher rates of death and various diseases and conditions (including diabetes and heart disease). The percent of U.S. adults over the age of 19 who are overweight is now 73.6 percent, with 42.5 percent of adults being formally classified as obese – and the statistics for children and adolescents aren’t much better.
Various nutrition and health experts have pointed the finger at different culprits over the years, with many people blaming sugar intake for the rise in obesity. But is sugar completely to blame for the obesity epidemic? And if so, what can we do about it?
The Problems With Sugar
Essentially, the problems with sugar
- A source of excess calories. First and foremost, sugar is a source of excess calories – and often, those calories are empty. Sugar is a type of simple carbohydrate that comes in a few different forms, including glucose and fructose, but it always carries 4 calories per gram. It’s found naturally in a variety of foods, including those we find nutritious and part of a “healthy diet,” like apples and other fruits. However, it’s also frequently added to processed foods, especially desserts, making them richer and more caloric. When human beings consume more calories than they expend in the course of a day, they store the extra energy in the form of fat. Put simply, sugar is a rich source of calories, so eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain.
- Good taste. Adding to the complexity of the situation is sugar’s delicious taste. Humans evolved to favor sweet foods, like fruits, because they’re both rare and nutritious in the wild. But these days, sugar is plentiful – and it still tastes just as delicious. People love eating sugar, feeling a release of dopamine and other “feel-good chemicals” whenever they do it, so much so that some experts believe it’s possible to be addicted to sugar. If you have a bad habit of eating high-calorie, sugary foods, this quality of sugar can make the problem worse.
- High prevalence. Sugar has the potential to make a person overweight, sure, but can it really be blamed for an entire culture of overweight people? The answer is partially yes, if for no other reason than its high prevalence. Food producers all over the world pack sugar into their foods whenever possible – especially a certain type of sugar called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which functions as a preservative in addition to its sweetening effect. This makes sugar hard to avoid – and adds calories to otherwise perfectly good food choices.
- High glycemic index. It’s also worth noting that sugar metabolizes in the body differently than other carbohydrates and other nutrients. It carries a high glycemic index (GI), meaning it processes very quickly, releasing into the bloodstream at a fast rate. However, it should be noted that the evidence that sugar has a direct impact on obesity rates independent of its caloric content is difficult for experts to parse. In other words, we’re not sure whether sugar’s fast processing in the body makes its calories have a different impact on the body than comparable qualities from a lower-GI food.
How to Handle the Sugar Problem
So what can we do to handle the sugar problem?
Everything starts with us being more educated consumers. We need to pay careful attention to the labels of the food products we buy, and understand that added sugar can have a negative impact on our health.
We can also work on utilizing sweeteners and preservatives other than sugar. These days, thanks to the progress made by food scientists, we have access to a wide range of both natural and artificial sweeteners that give us the same great taste and culinary function of sugar – but without the high calories and high glycemic index.
Other Variables to Consider
Of course, it’s hard to blame sugar exclusively for the obesity epidemic. We also have to consider:
- Total calorie consumption. High-calorie diets, regardless of the specific foods eaten, will lead to obesity. Big portion sizes and mindless snacking are partially to blame for the epidemic.
- Trans fatty acids (TFAs). Some experts have pointed the finger at TFAs, fatty compounds that are prevalent in fast foods and fried foods.
- Sedentary lifestyle. We also need to consider the lack of physical exercise the average person gets on an average day. With desk jobs and minimal time in recreational activities, we burn fewer calories.
Sugar isn’t the only factor responsible for the high rates of obesity in the developed world, but it’s definitely a contributor. Collectively, we need to take the impact of sugar seriously and work to lessen its impact on our weight and health.
9 Simple Steps to Dealing with a Broken Tooth
Credit: freepik via Freepik
It’s movie night, and you have an obligatory bowlful of popcorn balancing on your lap. You toss a handful of popcorn and — crack — you unknowingly bite down on a kernel with the full power of your jaw.
Lightning strikes your mouth as you realize this humble kernel broke your tooth.
Besides pausing the movie and spitting out your mouthful of popcorn and tooth, you might not know your next steps.
What should you do, and how can you pay for it? Find the answers to these questions and more below:
1. Save the Pieces
If possible, save any broken pieces of the tooth. Your dentist might need these pieces.
2. Rinse Your Mouth
Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Avoid using hot or cold water, as it might aggravate any exposed nerves.
3. Control Bleeding
If you bleed, apply gentle pressure to the area with a clean cloth or gauze. You can also use a cold compress on your jaw or cheek to reduce swelling.
4. Contact Your Dentist
Reach out to your dentist immediately. Explain the situation and try to schedule an emergency appointment. Many dentists reserve slots for urgent cases. If they don’t have a spot available, look at specialty emergency clinics in your area.
5. Get Over-the-Counter Pain Relief
Broken and chipped teeth can hurt, so take some over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage this pain until you can see your dentist.
6. Check Insurance Coverage
Review your dental insurance policy to understand coverage details. Some policies may cover emergency procedures, while others may have limitations.
7. Discuss Payment Options
If cost is a concern, discuss financing options with your dentist. Some dental offices offer flexible arrangements that give you a break. If you qualify for these plans, you might be able to push out your due date to coincide with your payday. You may even be able to break up your total outstanding amount over several payments.
8. Take out a Personal Loan
If you’re just shy of what you need to cover your emergency dental expense, consider going online to scope out personal loans. A personal loan may fill in for savings in urgent situations. You can quickly visit a website like MoneyKey to see what you need to apply. If approved, a personal loan gives you the means to pay for your visit upfront and pay off what you owe over time.
9. Consider Urgent Care Clinics
If your financial situation is such that you can’t afford a personal loan’s payments, reconsider your choice of dentist. Some dental practices apply a sliding scale to their services so that they can provide immediate care at a lower cost for at-risk individuals.
Next Steps: Thinking About the Future
So, you’ve managed to repair your tooth and pay the bill, too. What’s next? Make sure you hit these three goals soon. They can help you prevent another broken tooth in the future!
- Stay on Top of Dental Hygiene: Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day — these simple habits can protect your teeth over time.
- Schedule Regular Checkups: Keeping up with regular cleanings can also help you prevent future dental emergencies.
- Build an Emergency Fund: Sometimes, accidents happen. Consider building an emergency fund specifically for unexpected dental emergencies.
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