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Sugar: The Scourge of Nations

America. The world’s largest economy and its wealthiest nation. Land of the free. Home of the obese. And Canada isn’t that far behind its southern cousins.

Both countries with high standards of living, overfed and undernourished.

But does economic status determine the health of a nation?

I attended a conference a couple of weeks ago and learned something that surprised me. Canada, the United States, Mexico, or France. Guess which country has the highest per capita consumption of sugar?

Surely the US!

Here are the facts:

Country Annual Sugar Consumption (lbs)
Canada

71.7

France

55.1

United States

74.7

Mexico

83.6

 

What’s that? A “third world” country with higher sugar consumption than its northern neighbours?

What are the implications of this for the people of Mexico? That’s 83.6 pounds of sugar consumed per person per year… over 151,600 calories. That’s 415 calories per day for the average Mexican… over 20% of a 2,000 calorie per day diet consumed in white sugar!

I just returned from eight glorious days in Huatulco… an idyllic town on the southwest coast of Mexico. Huatulco is a relatively new destination for us Northerners. The most common foreign tourists there are Canadians. Americans haven’t discovered it yet. Most tourists in Huatulco are Mexicans… mostly from Mexico City.

Temperatures were in the low thirties (around 90°F) every day. Definitely pool and beach weather. Everyone scantily clad in swimwear.

And virtually every single Mexican tourist sitting around the pool or at the beach was over-weight.

There was a large wedding party from the capital with 360 guests on the weekend. Lots of young people. I saw a couple of twenty or early-thirty somethings who were fit. Virtually everyone else was carrying too much weight. Walking through the town I saw the same thing… not a lot of lean people.

Now this is totally an anecdotal observation on my part. I get that. But what I do think is that this is symptomatic of the effect of sugar in our food on the overall health of people. Sugar is the main cause of the obesity epidemic from which no country is immune.

After years of railing about the elimination of dietary fats and the evils of cholesterol, there is no question in my mind that sugar is Satan in the nutrition world.