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Bad Chart Thursday: Sugar Could Make Us Immortal

I was casually strolling about the Internet the other day, enjoying a hot fudge doughnut M&M sundae, as I am wont to do, when I came across some SHOCKING news about US sugar consumption: By 2606, the US Diet will be 100 Percent Sugar.

My first thought was that this would be only a 5 percent increase in my current diet. My second thought was that my sundae needed a little more hot fudge. The perfect lunch dessert requires a delicate balance of elements.

But I digress. As you can see from the charts provided in the article, the author derived his prediction from first looking at the increasing trend in sugar consumption, in pounds per year per person, from 1822 to 2005:

Sugar consumption

He then plotted the outcome if this trend continued, until he reached the 100 percent mark (based on average calorie consumption of 2,250 kcal/day) in 2606:

Sugar consumption trend

Seems legit. Obviously, many factors come into play here when talking about the future, such as changes in calorie intake (especially when we become robot hybrids), availability of sugar, doomsday predictions that may come true in the next few hundred years, and how our diets may change when candy inevitably gains sentience. But as a rough look at the trend, sure.

The real question, of course, is whether this is necessarily a bad thing. I know, it seems obvious–that much sugar just can’t possibly be good for you. But as skeptics, we should always question our assumptions.

Let’s take a look at this in context, such as life expectancy. During this same period, in fact, our life expectancy has also continued to increase, as I demonstrate below.

Sugar equals longer life

Clearly, the more sugar we eat, the longer we live. I mean, I know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but how can we ignore how closely these trends track each other over time?

In fact, long-term projections show that sugar may, for all practical purposes, be the key to immortality.

Sugar equals immortality

Again, this does not take into account myriad factors, such as overpopulation problems as we live longer and how the resulting cannibalism may affect our sugar intake or whether the aforementioned candy sentience will make it far more difficult for us to eat anything resembling our pet Kit Kats (or dare I say our nougat-filled partners, daughters, sons). I’m really not suggesting we all go out and start eating sugar by the spoonful because . . . gross.

What I am saying is that data are not always what they seem, and we should be cautious when looking at the future (or, for that matter, the past). Sugar could kill us all or it could make us immortal. In moderation, it probably just adds a little sweetness to our relatively short lives. Oh, and tooth decay, if you believe the Big Dental propaganda machine. But that’s a subject for another post.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer living in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When not making fun of bad charts or running the Uncensorship Project, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and putting out random dumpster fires. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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  1. You had me until ” I’m really not suggesting we all go out and start eating sugar by the spoonful because . . . gross.”

    You know what’s gross? People dying HUNDREDS OF YEARS EARLY because they aren’t getting enough sugar! That’s gross!

    Also, I think we should investigate this for pets, I certainly don’t want to consign my poor cats to only living 20 or so years if I could feed them sugar and extend their lives into their 60s.

    1. OMG YOU’RE RIGHT! How could I be so callous. I could be sitting right now enjoying a sugar sandwich with my great-great-great grandmother and her dog.

      What a tragic waste.

  2. I’ve thought of some further implication for the 100% sugar diet of 2606:

    Most babies born on or after the Sugar Singularity will be named Ruth.
    Those babies will all be smarties.
    At least, three of them will grow up to be musketeers despite a lack of available muskets.
    Any person referring to someone other than themselves will exclusively use the words “my peep(s)”… more so than now.
    Being attacked by a bear claw will be considered a good omen.
    There will be only one currency: Reese’s pieces
    Naturally, all food/sugar on Mars will have to be molded into a bar shape before ingestion.
    Communication will become much easier with the dropping of the perfunctory “candy” in “candy corn”.

    That’s all I’ve got for now. Let me go drink some high fructose corn syrup and see if that’ll give a jolt to my whatchamacallit.

  3. Sorry, I can’t resist — one more: Could we say this sweet chart is based on S’more’s Law?

      1. That definitely supports my cannibalism theory, which in turn makes the whole concept of a “breakfast club” suspect.

  4. I find it more than co-incidental that the curves for life expectancy and sugar consumption cross in the early 27th century, at exactly the same time our diet becomes 100% sugar.

    I just want to know 2 things: 1) how much sugar do I need to eat to survive until the sugar singularity? and 2) will I need to get a new glucose meter with a 4-digit display?

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