Sugar’s Takeover


Most sugar isn’t as obvious as the cube in this image. It is hidden in everyday foods, and the grams add up quickly. [Image source: “Sugar” by Uwe Hermann is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.]

Addison Williams, Reporter

Many don’t realize how many things contain added sugar nowadays, as well as its effects on us students. Sugar is hidden in many processed foods that we don’t think twice about. Refined sugar can be labeled as many things when the simplicity of it is that it just simply turns to sugar in your body. Today we are going to be talking about different forms of sugar, what it is hidden in, its impact on the students in the education system and our health, as well as alternatives.

Types of Sugar 

Sugar comes in many forms. Not only is cane sugar a part of this category, but brown sugar as well, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, honey, fruit juice concentrate, the list goes on. Countless foods we consume on a daily basis are part of this problem. You may ask yourself, well what is high fructose corn syrup, or molasses? According to a Wikipedia definition, high fructose corn syrup is “a sweetener made from cornstarch, some of whose glucose has been converted to fructose, that is used in commercially produced foods and soft drinks as a cheaper alternative to sucrose.” Molasses isn’t too far off from this concept either. According to a Food Network study,  “Molasses is the liquid that is left after white sugar is processed from sugar cane juice. It can also be leftover from processing sugar from sugar beets, but beet molasses is typically used in animal feed – not in cooking.” Being able to differentiate between different sugars and foods we ingest on a daily, is a great habit to develop.

Sugars Victims

Although many foods may not need sugar, countless companies still feel the need to add it. Let’s take a closer look at some of these foods and their hidden components.

Photo By Steve Cukrov; Edited in Adobe Capture

Yoplait Yogurt is known as a normal breakfast snack. You may have it with some granola, strawberries and bananas. However, the amount of “simple ingredients” in this yogurt may surprise you. It contains cultured pasteurized grade reduced-fat milk, strawberries, natural flavor, modified corn starch, sugar, and much more. There is a total of 13g of added sugar to a simple cup of yogurt.

Photo by Roman Tiraspolsky; Edited in Adobe Capture

Once again, Raisin Bran is also known as a breakfast meal. The forms of sugar that are in this cereal are sugar and brown sugar syrup. Something as simple as 9g of sugar can make a massive difference in what you choose to eat, especially to start off your day. One more item we can look at is Coke.

Photo by Justin Huffman; Edited Adobe Capture

Yes, Coke may be a very delicious beverage, but the impact this drink can have on you can be life-changing. It contains caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavor, caffeine, and high fructose corn syrup. With a total amount of 39g of added sugars, that equals 10 cubes of granulated sugar. 

The Effects of Sugar on Students 

When students are in class, the teacher’s main objective is holding the student’s attention. Their attention span is the baseline for learning. Not only is sugar bad for your health, but it can also affect memory and the way of processing information. A study was conducted that showed how an unhealthy diet can affect the way the brain functions and “throw off its equilibrium.”

 The development of the brain can be delayed by the consumption of sugar a child may consume, due to the growth of their brain still going. When a student consumes products containing added sugar, they are less likely to eat the more important foods, like vegetables and protein. So, when veering away from healthy foods, their dedication to a good learning environment decreases. Not only is sugar substandard for your health, but it also can portray a side of addiction to those who consume it. Experts say that sugar might just be as addictive as cocaine. Its “addictive properties” can most definitely take over someone’s life. Who knew something so simple, usually known as a reward for children, can be so dangerous? Eating sugar releases endorphins, as well as large amounts of dopamine, giving it the same effect in comparison to substances like  cocaine and heroin. In order to have students feel more engaged in a class environment, it is important to know when sugar is okay as well as when to stay away from it. By doing this, the result of a better, more focused atmosphere is common.

Alternatives to Added Sugar

Nowadays, it’s hard to find substitutes for refined sugar, and if you do so, the difference in value is extreme. But as you get familiar with many different healthier options, it can almost become a lifestyle. There are many forms of natural or healthier sugars that can take the place of the bad form. Some replacements consist of stevia, dates, date syrup, coconut sugar, honey, monk fruit sweetener, erythritol, xylitol, and more. Some of these may not sound familiar to you, or who knows, maybe all of them do. Why don’t we take a look at some desserts containing these substitutes?

Photo Credit by Kawther Albader; Edited in Adobe Capture

Lily’s chocolate is a great way to indulge in a treat that contains stevia. With no added sugars and organic ingredients, you can’t even tell the difference between this and a Hershey’s bar. With many flavors to choose from, you will never get bored.

Photo credit by Alisa Fleming; Edited in Adobe Capture

Base Culture is a brand that specializes in paleo, grain-free, and gluten-free treats. These are just some of the items they make. These cookie bars rely on the sweetness of honey and coconut sugar and come in three flavors. These are a great substitute for cookies, while still being able to indulge.

Photo Credit by Addison Williams; Edited in Adobe Capture


One more great alternative is ice cream made by a brand named Holi Scoop. With no dairy with and sweetened with date paste, it tastes even better than the Breyers ice cream you would buy at the grocery store. You are still able to enjoy sweet vanilla ice cream, without the feeling of sickness or such that you would consume with refined sugar.

The effects these substitutes have on our bodies make a substantial difference compared to refined sugar. Although we are achieving the same cravings that refined sugar would give us, the feeling doesn’t hold us back. So, whenever you may crave something sweet, like a flavorful bag of Skittles, or a delicious Snickers bar, remember there are so many better options!