Combating Sugar Addiction in Mice and Men


Some people think consuming refined sugar is harmless. They allow themselves that indulgence every so often, and if they have children, they allow them candy, cake or ice cream. “Hey,” they might say, “we all deserve to enjoy ourselves once in a while; life is short!” Yes it is, and such folks might be making life even shorter. Excessive sugar intake is linked to obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure, and Harvard School of Public Health researchers calculate that these modifiable risk factors account for approximately 200,000 or more preventable deaths in the US each year.

Meanwhile, the food industry for years has been busily adding sugar and high-fructose corn syrup to foods that people wouldn’t expect it to be in unless they were committed label readers. They include spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, peanut butter, bread, and a long list of other common foods. 

Here’s yet another wake-up call: In a new animal study from the University of Utah, female mice that consumed the equivalent of a human drinking three cans of soft drinks a day doubled their mortality rate. Meanwhile, in male mice with a similar diet, fertility rate dropped dramatically and their ability to defend their territory diminished. 

The diet the lab mice received contained 25 percent sugar, the amount commonly consumed in the Standard American Diet. Also, the study included only the refined sugars glucose and fructose. There was no high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose used—but of course these likely pose equivalent health risks.

To help us break that sugar habit, who’s going to offer us equally delicious, “natural” foods and drinks that don’t contain these toxic substances?

One strong candidate is Robert Brooke. Brooke—an experienced healthcare investor, a bioengineer, and a passionately health-conscious father of two—and his Yuba City, California agricultural biotechnology company, Stevia First Corp., are quietly making strides in using the stevia plant in new ways.

Various studies have suggested that stevia possesses a range of characteristics that make it a healthier alternative to sugar.

As Stevia First’s CEO, Brooke believes we need to end our dependency on refined sugars as much and as quickly as possible, since it threatens public health and especially hurts disadvantaged communities that have poor access to healthy, fresh foods. Under his leadership the company is on track to revolutionize the sweetener industry, starting with what may be superior methods of cultivation, fermentation, and processing. 

Stevia First’s primary audience includes multinational food and beverage companies that have already bought into their vision, and that want to offer their consumers better-tasting sugar-free products. 

For more on the company, visit