For many years, we have been told that fat was the main culprit when it came to the obesity epidemic. The diet & weight-loss industries quickly jumped on board, lining the supermarket shelves with low-fat products that often replaced the missing fat with sugar. In recent years however, sugar has been exposed as a major cause for concern in relation to many diet related illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.

New research and subsequent media coverage has started to lead to some action to combat the amount of refined and processed sugars in our diets. Mexico, a country with one of the world’s fastest growing diabetes epidemics has introduced taxes on sugary drinks; while the UK and US recently saw the launch of the campaign group, Action on Sugar, an initiative set up to bring about a consensus on the harmful effects of sugar, and to encourage the government to challenge food and drink manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in products.

Whether it is in the form of glucose, fructose, sucrose or honey, there’s no denying that sugar is everywhere, from sweet treats such as cakes and biscuits, to cereal and even bread. With such an abundance of sugar present in so many of the foods we eat, it’s important to know what impact this has.

With more and more advice emerging on how to kick the sugar habit, is there truth in the accusations that sugar is addictive? And what happens to our bodies and brains when we consume too much?

The short film below, by Nicole Avena for TED-Ed, explains exactly how sugar affects not only our bodies, but also our brains.

Photograph by Jill Shih

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