Sugar has been consumed by human civilizations for thousands of years. In 2017, 11.18 million metric tons of sugar were consumed in the United States. What’s lacking is the public and political will to address it, in ways such as the proposed sugar tax and prominently displayed health warnings. Like many great challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change, the science identifying the problem seems clear. That’s a 23kg per capita average. (Statistica) sugar] found in reeds in India and Eudaimon Arabia[i.e. In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year. Specifically colonization of the Americas as well as other parts of the globe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was at least partially driven by economic considerations of the countries involved. When they were finally emancipated in 1834 in the British Empire, it was the slave owners who were fully compensated – not the slaves. Mortality rates could reach as high as up to 25% on each voyage, and between 1m and 2m dead must have been thrown overboard. The most efficient method of growing sugar was on large plantations with many workers. Excessive consumption of sugar has been implicated in the onset of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and … And although both sugar and tobacco have ancient origins, it was their sudden, mass consumption from the mid-17th century onwards that created the health risks we associate with them today. Mark Horton, Professor in Archaeology, University of Bristol; Alexander Bentley, Professor and Chair of Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Houston, and Philip Langton, Senior Teaching Fellow in Physiology, University of Bristol. In the Netherlands, the third in sugar consumption, people eat or drink 102.5 grams of sugar daily. Researchers are currently hunting for early evidence of sugarcane cultivation at the Kuk Swamp in Papua New Guinea, where the domestication of related crops such as taro and banana dates back to approximately 8,000BC. Number 4 on the list is Ireland whose residents consume 96.7 grams of sugar daily. If it is killing all of us, it is killing black people faster. Timeline of Sugar. Rates of obesity are rising worldwide and added sugar, especially from … The fact that the expansion of production and trade of sucrose was largely linked to the European colonization of the Americas had significant implications for the institutional arrangements in the international sugar market in place at the beginning of the twentieth century. Dirk Kirchner/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA. Every year, the entire world consumes about 165 million tons of sugar. To keep all of this in perspective, it’s helpful to remember the American Heart Association’s recommendations for sugar intake. It seemed that against public announcement of eating less sugar, sugar consumption only steadily increased by each year. The first chemically refined sugar appeared on the scene in India about 2,500 years ago. Likewise, the rise of sugar has been key to global trade and socioeconomic development, slavery and the African Diaspora and modern cultural norms. Initial results pointed to a link between sugar consumption and … The sugar plantation system became the main industry of the Caribbean. What Are the Benefits of CBD for Athletic…, Why Alcohol-Free Drinks Are Set to Take Over…, How to Use CBD for Sleep: The Ultimate Guide. Perhaps a better comparison is our reliance on fossil fuels. Cyprus and Sicily became important centres for sugar production. Sugar … There are records of knowledge of sugar among the ancient Greeks and Romans, but only as an imported medicine, and not as a food. Britain's annual per capita consumption of sugar was 4lbs in 1704, 18lbs in 1800, 90lbs in 1901 - a 22-fold increase to the point where Britons had the highest sugar intake in Europe. Reviving a Crop and an African-American Culture, Stalk by Stalk. Mark Horton, Author provided. From rarefied medicine to colonial invader to public health menace, the story of the world’s most … Cheaper and more efficient techniques of production have lead to ever increasing consumption of sugar. Sign up today to get weekly science coverage direct to your inbox. Sugar consumption in the United States has been on the rise in the past decade. Ireland. This food – which nobody needed, but everyone craved – drove the formation of the modern of the world. Rebalance your gut bacteria and you’ll find your sugar cravings will go down dramatically.” Along with addressing the cause of sugar cravings, it is essential for consumers and producers alike to recognise the dangers of sugar, from obesity to diabetes, and provide healthier and more sustainable alternatives in shops and restaurants everywhere. Now, the average person consumes 70 grams of fructose each day, which is a shocking 300 per cent above the daily recommended amount. Sugar has been linked in the United States to diabetes, obesity and cancer. These figures, which are echoed across many studies, certainly indicate that sugar consumption has grown enormously in the past few hundred years. While obesity per head of population increases sugar consumption per head is … Not surprisingly, the sharp rise in sugar consumption in the last half of the 19 th Century stimulated an array of detractors to come to the fore. Evidence from plant remnants and DNA suggests that sugarcane evolved in South East Asia. In 1700, the average person consumed approximately 4.9 grams of sugar … And while tobacco is widely acknowledged to be addictive, sugar can also drive behavioural responses that are indistinguishable from addiction. This need was met by a transatlantic slave trade, which resulted in around 12,570,000 human beings being shipped from Africa to the Americas between 1501 and 1867. The expansion of the transatlantic slave trade was, therefore, directly related to the growth of British consumption of sugar. In many ways, the story of sugar and tobacco are closely aligned. By continuing to use our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our cookie policy. Yemen ] similar in consistency to salt and brittle enough to be broken between the teeth like salt. soda pop every five days. In 2014, sweetener use was down to 77.3 pounds per year, or 22.9 teaspoons a day. For example, the Greek physician Dioscorides in the 1st century (AD) wrote: "There is a kind of coalesced honey called sakcharon [i.e. In fact, sugar actually changes the muscle protein of the heart as well as the pumping mechanics of the heart. For women, the number is lower: 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day. All sugar, whether natural or processed, is a type of simple carbohydrate your body uses for energy. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was considered a rare and expensive spice, rather than an everyday condiment. In 2005–2010, the average percentage of total daily calories from added sugars was 13% (average intake of 335 calories) for men and 13% (average intake of 239 calories) for women aged 20 and older. Its main output – apart from commercial profits – is a global public health crisis, which has been centuries in the making. A sugar craving is usually due to an imbalance in your gut bacteria or a sign of a blood sugar crash. This is very similar to Germany, as both countries share a love of sweets. Can Cause Weight Gain. And although both sugar and tobacco have ancient origins, it was their sudden, mass consumption from the mid-17th century onwards that created the health risks we associate with them today. America’s sweet tooth peaked in 1999, when each person consumed an average of 90.2 pounds of added caloric sweeteners a year, or 26.7 teaspoons a day. Both products were initially produced through slave labour, and were originally seen to be beneficial to health. Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) or sugary drinks are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet. The crop spread around the Eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans around 3,500 years ago, carried by Austronesian and Polynesian seafarers. But in the 21st century, the grip of sugar is stronger than comparable scourges like tobacco, or even alcohol. Alzheimer, first identifies a form of dementia characterized by dramatic shrinkage Sugar’s Sordid Timeline History 21 in brain nerve cells. Tea with milk and sugar is a very common drink here. In 2009, 50 per cent of Americans consumed approximately 227 grams of sugar each day - equating to 81.6 kg per year. Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day. In fact, sugar probably entered into our diets by accident. Fossil fuels are not just a vice or bad habit, but central to the way we live, and to the geography and politics of the territories where it is sourced. Frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout, a type of arthritis. In fact, according to this infographic by Mind Body Green, the average American consumes 1610kg pounds of sugar in a lifetime. After disruptions during the two World Wars, UK sugar consumption per capita peaked in the post-war period and is now in decline. In some circles this increase in the consumption of sugar was seen as proof of the hedonistic degradation of society, and sugar often became an easy target as the cause of many of society’s ills. In 2008, people in the US were consuming over 60 pounds (28 kg) of added sugar per year — and this does not include fruit juices ().. Nevertheless, it now accounts for almost half the consumption of sugar in the USA and somewhat less in Japan. Historical Consumption of Sugar For most of human history, consumption of sugar, in refined form, was virtually zero. 8000 BC – Archeological evidence tells us that sugarcane was first domesticated in in New Guinea by its inhabitants, who slowly spread their knowledge across Southeast Asia, southern China, and India.. 800 BC – First historical reference of sugar comes from China, with the mentions of the India’s sugarcane fields in some of their ancient surviving texts. As the demand for sugar increased, so did the number of slaves. And of course, goods such as copper and brass, rum, cloth, tobacco and guns were needed to purchase slaves from the African elites. The rise in UK per capita sugar consumption to today’s 35kg/head took place over 100 years ago. Added sugars consumption varies by age, sex, race, and ethnicity. Much of this money was used to build Victorian infrastructure, such as railways and factories. As sugar consumption grew in the latter part of the 20th century, researchers began to examine whether a diet high in sugar, especially refined sugar, was damaging to human health. When Brazilian sugarcane was introduced in the Caribbean, shortly before 1647, it led to the growth of the industry which came to feed the sugar craze of Western Europe. The idea of “industrial epidemics” of non-communicable diseases, being driven by the profit motives of major corporations, rings true for both. It cannot be sold as crystals or table sugar because the mix of fructose and glucose exist in a syrup form. The evolutionary and historical origins of sugarcane may hold insights into why sugar dominates modern culture, and what we can do to mitigate its malign influence. Over the course of the 1700s around 11 million slaves were exported by European merchants from Africa to the slave colonies. In an article for Collective Evolution, nutritionist Lisa Kilgour says that the modern-day urge for sugar is a “craving you can’t always trust. Sugar Consumption These figures are similar for people in the UK. In 2009, more than 50 percent Americans consume 1/2 pound of sugar per day, which is 180 pounds of sugar per year. Sugar is not only ubiquitous – it is potentially responsible for approximately 20% of the caloric content of modern diets – but also central to the world’s economy and cultural heritage. Read the original article. The Illustrated History of How Sugar Conquered the World. These were secured through the expansion of industrial production, particularly in the English Midlands and South West. Sugar production Raw materials. Heavy industry. Figure: Sugar consumption on average by approximate year. The obesity epidemic – along with related diseases including cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes – has spread across every nation where sugar-based carbohydrates have come to dominate to the food economy. Human physiology evolved on a diet containing very little sugar and virtually no refined carbohydrate. Meanwhile, the slaves working the plantations suffered miserable lives. Follow sugar’s historical journey across the world and the advances in technology that allow us to enjoy sugar today. The global consumption of sugar amounted to 172.6 in 2018/2019, and is projected to increase to about 177.8 million metric tons by 2020/2021. In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year. The first place to cultivate sugarcane explicitly for large-scale refinement and trade was the Atlantic island of Madeira, during the late 15th century. History of Sugar While chewing sugar cane for its sweet taste was likely done in prehistory, the first indications of the domestication of sugar cane were around 8000 BCE. Desserts, sodas, and energy and sports drinks are the top sources of added sugars for most Americans, but many other foods contain added sugars. Even with the inclusion of high fructose corn syrup products, sugar consumption remains high. This website uses cookies to improve user experience. That’s nearly 2 tonnes! The sugar industry pulled the plug on an animal study it funded in the 1960s. AHA Sugar Recommendation. Then, it was the Portuguese who realised that new and favourable conditions for sugar plantations existed in Brazil, where a slave-based plantation economy was established. Modern-day banking and insurance can trace its origins to the 18th century Atlantic economy. [12] Christopher Columbus introduced sugar cane seeds to the New World, specifically to Hispaniola, on his second voyage in 1493. Back in 2009, the consumption amount was 9.9 million metric tons. With sugar still deeply part of our food system – in 2013, sugar crops made up 6.2% of world’s agricultural yield and 9.4% of its total monetary value – such bold socio-economic measures are needed to make the necessary changes possible. [11] Excess sugar consumption has been linked to cancer production. It is likely that sugarcane was primarily a “fodder” crop, used to fatten pigs, though humans may have chewed on the stalks from time to time. Restrictions were placed on the c… According to the latest data, sugarcane is the world’s third most valuable crop after cereals and rice, and occupies 26,942,686 hectares of land across the globe. The consumption of sugar in Malawi has been flactuating over the last five years with a major decline in 2011 (about 37000 from 166 000 in 2007) The consumption of sugar worldwide has increased from 160 million tonnes in 2007 to 180 million tonnes in 2012. Certainly, this incontrovertible explosion in sugar consumption cannot be ignored. The average intake … Slaves driven to work in the cane fields. Back in the old days (1822), the average American consumed a mere 45 grams of refined sugar, or the equivalent of a 12 oz. From there, the technique spread east towards China, and west towards Persia and the early Islamic worlds, eventually reaching the Mediterranean in the 13th century. In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year. Fruits, vegetables and dairy foods naturally contain sugar.\"Added sugars\" are the sugars and syrups added to foods during processing. There was a huge demand for labour to cultivate the massive sugar plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean. This article was originally published on The Conversation. 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