The Temptation of Sugar for Seniors

May 15, 2021

We all have a favorite commercial, or the ability to recite a catchy song from a long-ago ad. Advertising sticks with us whether we want it to or not, but what happens when the ad makes it so appealing to buy a product that we develop a bad habit? This is the case when it comes to sugary products, and the senior community is not exempt from the ill effects.

Common illnesses associated with sugar

Diabetes is perhaps the most prominent illness associated with sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 25 percent of people 65 years and older have diabetes. This is significant since seniors with diabetes are also at a higher risk for diabetes-related complications.

Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high as a result of your body not making insulin, or not using it in the right way. Luckily, diabetes is a manageable illness with the right diet, amount of exercise, and medication. Many patients even find it possible to keep their blood sugar levels in a safe range with just diet and exercise alone, but that means controlling the amount of sugar you eat each day.

Other issues you are at risk for if you eat too much sugar  that you get more than 25 percent of your daily calories from include:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • High cholesterol
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay

These issues are not limited to seniors who take in too much sugar, but a high-sugar diet, over a long period of time, will most likely do more damage to one’s overall health.

The loud voice of advertising

Even with the potential for chronic health problems lingering, many people are seduced by sugar. It is not entirely their fault though, as manufacturers of sugary products put a lot of effort into enticing you to buy. Beverage companies, for example, spent $1.04 billion in 2018 advertising sugary drinks and energy drinks. While a larger percentage of this advertising is targeted at young minorities, we all fall victim, at times, to TV commercials or product placement in the grocery store. And, if you developed a habit of drinking your favorite soda each night with dinner when you were young, you most likely still carry on the same behavior into adulthood. Even with zero calorie and diet options, if your first love was the full-sugar version, it is hard to say no to it. Advertising leaves its mark.

There is also evidence showing that even though seniors may make up a smaller portion of the viewing audience, when it comes to ads, they are very susceptible. In a study done on the causal effect of advertising on purchases, participants 65 and over made up only five percent of the total group, but increased purchases by 20 percent. That means the smallest age group in the study impacted the results by almost half. It is unfortunate that the power of advertising can lead to the perpetuation of bad habits.

What does this mean?

When you combine the ill effects of too much sugar with the seductive advertising of sugary products, you get harmful habits that are hard to break. Maybe you do not realize that one soda each day, coupled with your regular diet, is putting you at risk. This is because there is too much sugar in your system. The trick is to not let advertising lead you to what you eat, but rather real facts and a general understanding of what a healthy diet really is. 

Say ‘no’ to sugar

Saying ‘no’ to sugar does not mean refusing it all the time. Your body does need glucose to function and glucose comes from sugar. The trick is not taking it to an excessive amount with a lot of sugary snacks or meals. This can mean saying no to candy and a lot of complex carbohydrates, but also making changes to your overall diet. Reducing the amount of alcohol that you drink, for example can lower your sugar intake. The same is true if you consume less sodium. Opting for whole wheat over white bread makes a difference as well as going for fiber-rich foods. Lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables also contribute to a low-sugar diet without taking away from your feeling satisfied with your meal. 

Get proper treatment to manage your health
Whether it is working with a dietician or your general practitioner, learning how to eat less sugar and enjoy a healthy diet is essential to senior health. Having the right Medicare coverage means being able to afford the care you need to stave off medical complications related to too much sugar. Working with an insurance agent who understands both Medicare and the healthcare needs of the senior population makes all the difference. At Healthcare Solutions Direct, we take the time to walk you through the entire process of applying for Medicare to make sure you have the right policy, and supplemental coverage, for your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more.

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