Putting on weight is a function of the
total number of calories a person consumes, not of the origin of the
calories. Some people have claimed that sugar per se promotes
obesity, but nutritionists agree that this is not the case.
Nevertheless, the general impression
that eating sweets leads to weight gain has more than a little truth
to it. One hundred calories of a chocolate bar will not make you
fatter than 100 calories of apple, but the chocolate will weigh less,
have less bulk and probably leave you hungrier. Consequently, in
all likelihood, you will eat more chocolate. Then you are taking
in extra calories, which, of course, can lead to weight gain.
The addition of sugar to foods raises
their calorie total, often markedly, without in general increasing
bulk much. As a result, when a person is eating sweets, the
feeling of fullness often does not arrive until long after an
excessive number of calories have been consumed. A couple of
comparisons may make this more apparent. Two ounces of M&Ms have
about 275 calories, whereas a pound of apples has only about 260.
Four carrots weighing 10 ounces have only 120 calories, less than a
half-cup of ice cream (140 calories). And who eats just a
half-cup of ice cream?
The apples and carrots, of course, are
themselves sweet because of sugars found naturally in them. The
point is not that sugar, in fruits and vegetables is better because it
is in some inscrutable way more "natural" (the sugar in candy bars is
"natural", too: It comes from cane or beets), but that fruits
and vegetables offer their sugar in a "natural" and healthful
proportion to other nutrients.
Sugar's crime is that it makes it so
easy to gain weight. This might cause little concern if most of
us were slim and fit, but unfortunately, the truth is otherwise.
One-third of the world's population is overweight and it appears that
the health problem has increased in recent years, both in men and
Since sugar's sole nutritional
contribution is calories, cutting back on high-sugar sweets is a
logical place to start if one is making an effort to lose weight.