History teaches me that the great weakness of America is her dependence on various forms of energy. Fuel that is neither good for the body politic nor the minds and bodies of my fellow Americans. Concerning the latter, with regard to the literal health of the bodies of young and old alike, America is in the midst of an unprecedented energy crisis: A crisis of addiction to sugar and caffeine, which provides a quick infusion of alertness, followed by a crash as intense as – in many ways, worse than – that initial jolt of power and determination.
History also confirms the significance of this threat, based on this study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the dangers of sugar. The authors of the study say:
Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) or sugary drinks are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet. 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. Limiting the amount of SSB intake can help individuals maintain a healthy weight and have a healthy diet.
The study underscores the challenge to African Americans in particular, because SSB intake is higher among males, young adults, non-Hispanic blacks or Mexican American, or low-income adults.
A leader at the forefront of the effort to change these statistics for the better is Jonathan Johnson, Founder of Vitamin Energy, which contains an optimal amount of Vitamin C –– and no sugar. For Johnson, who is an African American athlete, trainer and entrepreneur, this crisis is far from academic. (I mention his background, as he is one of the few individuals to speak about this issue and its challenges to all Americans.) He says:
It is a bittersweet fact, pun intended, that one of the greatest tragedies to befall African Americans comes not from whites, but a white substance that is in almost all the foods and drinks we consume. Sugar is that substance, harming members of my community; destroying the lives of all communities with its sweet flavor, but its seditious features; destroying men, women and children, while increasing the cost of health care by making us all pay the price – in lost jobs and wages – of this epidemic. My advice to consumers is simple: Empower yourselves with the energy to be productive; energize yourselves without sugar, so you may produce a new age of health and wellness.
I cannot help but agree with Johnson’s comments, as they give a greater sense of urgency to what the CDC says.
I return, then, to the lessons of history, that we are the agents of change; that change is not possible without our involvement; that passivity breeds acceptance; that acceptance breeds crisis; that crisis breeds catastrophe.
If we want to end this energy crisis, let us put an end to our reliance on sugar.