2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol later in life?  Is sugar the new gateway drug?

a woman drinking an orange juice

Researchers are now saying that sugar might be the gateway drug to alcoholism. Because recent studies have shown that when we consume high amounts of sugar, it can affect the pleasure center of our brain in the same way as alcohol, cocaine, and heroin do. As more research emerges on this topic, scientists are recommending individuals limit their sugar intake. This will reduce your chances of abusing alcohol later in life.

a couple of drinks in a clear disposable cups with straw
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

1) Sugar, does it make you drink?

“They found that people with a family history of alcoholism were much more likely to have a sweet tooth than those with no such family history. Those with a family history were 2.5 times more likely to have a sweet tooth. In addition, those with a family history of alcoholism disliked the less sweet solutions while those without a family history rated them as neutral.” (WebMD) Another study found that when 15-year-olds drink just three cans (not bottles) of soft drinks every week for four weeks, plaque begins to build up on their teeth; plaque significantly increases the risk for tooth decay and gum disease when it isn’t removed by brushing or flossing regularly.

2) Is sugar making you dependent on alcohol?

It’s been known for some time that sugar—which causes spikes in blood glucose levels and has been linked to weight gain, depression, and attention disorders—can lead to many health problems. A recent study has suggested that it could also cause addiction (specifically alcoholism). Researchers found children with high-sugar diets had an increased chance of abusing alcohol later in life. Here’s what you need to know about how your love for sweets could affect your health.

3) The Problem with Sugar Addiction

It’s no secret that a diet high in sugar can lead to tooth decay, but more and more research shows that eating too much sugar is linked to other health problems like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. But some evidence suggests that there may be another link between sugar and health: addiction. Research has shown that there may be similarities between our reactions to certain sugars and those with substance abuse issues; after all, both are highly addictive.

4) Sugary Drinks Linked to Childhood Obesity

Sugary drinks are one of many factors that can contribute to childhood obesity. Sugary drinks have a high number of calories and very little nutritional value, so it’s important for children to limit their intake in order to maintain healthy weights. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people older than 2 years should keep sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories [30.6MB]. For example, if an adult consumes 2,000 calories daily, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars.   Or, if toddlers consume 1,200 calories daily, no more than 120 calories should come from added sugars.

Children under 2 years old should not eat or drink any added sugars.

6) Sugary Drink Consumption Increases Antibiotic Resistance

Those that consume sugary drinks on a regular basis (think soda and juice) are more likely to develop antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their mouths, according to a study published in The Journal of Dental Research. Mouth bacteria can spread to other parts of your body—including your gut, which is your immune system’s first line of defense against disease. When you consume sugary drinks, you increase your risk for developing diseases related to type 2 diabetes and obesity, researchers say. So it’s crucial to minimize sugary drink consumption as much as possible. What are some alternatives? Water and tea! If you’re looking for something bubbly, opt for club soda or sparkling water instead. And fruit smoothies make a great treat; just skip any added sugar.

7) Learn From Diabetic Children – Choose Water Over Soda

Every time you consume something sweet, you’re putting a lot of stress on your teeth. If you have tooth decay, your body can produce extra acids that dissolve and weaken tooth enamel. Drinks such as soda, juice, and many sports drinks also contain sugar and artificial sweeteners that encourage bacterial growth that further weakens teeth. These bacteria produce acid, which erodes or dissolves enamel. Teeth left weakened by tooth decay are more susceptible to cavities or other dental problems later in life.


Kampov-Polevoy, A. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, November 2003; vol 27: pp 1743-1749. News release, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

Get the Facts: Added Sugars | Nutrition | CDC


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