Sugar, booze and extreme parenting

Friday, February 10, 2017

Late last year I gave a keynote address at the 2016 International Indigenous Allied Health Conference in Cairns. The paper I contributed, Fermenting country: caring for the ecology of our guts, revealed that sugar and booze work in similar ways:

"Refined sugars, which are secreted into almost all processed foods today, increase your risk of disease in a similar way to alcohol. What is extraordinary is that it’s become acceptable to pepper food, especially food targeted at children, with sweet addictive substances that cause a plethora of health problems. Parents and carers think if a product is sold and advertised then governments have approved it, therefore it must be safe. Sadly, this is not the case. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of California, there are three similarities between the effects of alcohol and fructose sugar:
1. Your liver metabolizes alcohol the same way as sugar, as both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat. This promotes insulin resistance, fatty liver, and abnormal fat levels in your blood.
2. Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins. This causes superoxide free radicals to form, resulting in inflammation.
3. Fructose can directly and indirectly stimulate the brain’s ‘hedonic pathway,’ creating habituation and dependence, the same way that ethanol does." (go to above link for citation)
In an article in The Age a few days ago entitled Expert says we are giving children the equivalent of alcohol for breakfast,  it is stated that "[a]ccording to the latest ABS statistics, children aged 2 to 3 were the most prevalent consumers of breakfast cereals (54 per cent), followed by 4-8-year-olds (52 per cent)... That's no big deal if they're eating plain oats, but few kids are."

In an article on my family last week, where the byline on the homepage ran: The next level of extreme parenting, it read: "One look at the couple’s four-year-old, Blackwood, will also have you prizing that lollipop out of your toddler’s mouth. 'Woody' has never touched processed sugar. “A treat for Woody is a mandarin picked off the tree, a handful of ripe berries or a sweet red capsicum,” Ms Ulman says. “We don’t shop at supermarkets so there are no shiny packets or chocolate bars to entice him and we don’t own a television so there are no ads to seduce him.”

While in Murdoch's media world, which represents the so-called mainstream, it is 'extreme' to keep booze-like refined sugar out of children's diet. But in the worlds of creatures, ecology, wisdom and care, it is unthinkable to give our young people industry's poisoned gifts.

Woody on a berry hunt


Newspaper by 2008

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