We all know that sugar isn’t exactly a health food. (Glazed donuts and the like are obviously not what the doctor ordered.) But when it comes down to it, weight gain is just one of many scary sugar consequences. The fat that accumulates around your midsection, known as visceral fat, has been linked to insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, says Angela Ginn-Meadow, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She notes that Americans consume anywhere from 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which is about 355 extra calories. (That’s roughly three times what the American Heart Association recommends.)
Other than an expanding gut and a risk for serious health outcomes, what else happens when you OD on the sweet stuff? An interactive tool from Beneden, a British healthcare company, could help you visualize how sugar changes your body immediately — and in the long run. Below, check out five unexpected consequences of too much sugar.
5 Unexpected Consequences of Sugar
1. Discolored Teeth
You’re never fully dressed without a smile, but your pearly whites might not be so, er, white if you’ve got a Coke and candy habit. The bacteria in your mouth feeds off of sugar, and the resulting acid level can lead to erosion of the tooth enamel. This can put you at risk for cavities and tooth sensitivity, according to the American Dental Association.
2. Bad Skin
Heard that chocolate makes your skin break out? It’s not 100 percent true, but dermatologists will tell you that sugary foods (and fatty foods, too) can lead to inflammation that causes pimples. The sweet stuff also damages the collagen that makes your skin smooth and firm. In other words, your face could sport more wrinkles, sooner.
3. Moody (or Forgetful) Brain
If you think your post-birthday cake sugar crash is all in your head, think again. A sugar-filled diet can actually tweak the neurotransmitters that keep your mood stable. Research shows that consuming lots of processed foods with sugar can, in some cases, increase the likelihood that you’ll develop depression. And one study found an association between high blood sugar and dementia.
4. Weak Bones
Getting full off sugar-packed snacks instead of more nourishing foods can mean trouble for little ones. Caving in to the candy aisle could mean kids are missing out on essential vitamins like calcium and vitamin D, which are key to bone development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 50 percent of toddlers and preschoolers sip one or more sugar-sweetened drinks per day. Instead, the AAP recommends serving low or nonfat milk or water to growing kids.
5. Problems “Down There”
Whether you’re a man or a woman, chronic sugar binges don’t bode well for your nether regions, and can seriously reduce your sex drive. High blood sugar can cause thrush, which is essentially reoccurring yeast infections. And men who are overweight and have high blood sugar (or diabetes) can develop erectile dysfunction, according to the American Diabetes Association.