What Kills More People: Sugar or Cigarettes?

You might find this a bit of a silly question, but a close look at the statistics will show you that the competition for what kills more people isn’t even close.

Which is Worse


Everybody knows that cigarettes are bad – but that wasn’t always the case. It took years before people actually understood that cigarettes caused damage to our bodies. Part of the reason for this is that humans are very good at picking out immediate dangers, but have a much more difficult time when dangers come slowly. After all, smoking one cigarette does no harm; in fact it makes you feel calmer, alert and gives you a boost of energy. The damage that happens from cigarettes is not that noticeable until you wake up one morning with a cough.

Cigarettes do cause harm, though, and they are linked not only to lung cancer, but also heart disease, stroke and a number of other diseases. If we use world-wide figures, the deaths from cigarettes amount to around 5 million deaths a year.

Now, let’s see how sugar stacks up.


Could sugar be the same as cigarettes? Could the damage done by sugar happen so slow that no one notices it? The answer to that question is yes.

While you won’t find medical doctors admitting that sugar causes harm, there is a growing number of research studies that are demonstrating that there is a connection between the amount of sugar we eat and obesity. How many world-wide deaths are attributable to obesity? The number is 17 million deaths a year. No one dies from being obese, though. Being overweight increases the risks for other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. Sugar has also been shown to directly cause diabetes and heart disease, even in someone with normal weight.

What are the world-wide deaths from these conditions? Let’s add them up:

Obesity:                17 million deaths

Heart disease:  17 million deaths

Diabetes:                4 million deaths

Total:                     38 million deaths

Now, some of these figures overlap (some obesity deaths may also be due to heart disease or diabetes), so let’s conservatively cut that number in half and use a number of 15 million deaths every year from sugar-related causes. This means that sugar is most likely responsible for three times the number of deaths that cigarettes are, and, yet, we let our children eat the stuff every day.

Don’t be a Frog

Many of you know the science experiment where you try to place a frog in very hot water and it jumps out, but if you slowly heat the pot the frog is in, it will kill the frog because he never notices the increasing heat.

Sugar is like that, you don’t notice the damage it does because it happens slowly over time. So, don’t be a frog. Notice now that what you are eating every day has an impact on your health when you are older.My book, Sugarettes can show you how to break the cycle of sugar addiction.


  1. Go on a ketogenic diet. Study after study is showing that a low carb (in particular no sugar) high fat diet is fantastic for your health. Fat tastes almost as good as sugar, and is excellent for your good cholesterol. I lost 25 pounds in a month on the diet. I have put most of it back on because of love for rum and cokes, (perhaps the least healthy thing in the world) but thats another story.

  2. this article lacks of references. it’s not supported by official studies and doesn’t say who make this statistic. Sure that sugar has side effect if used in unbalanced but not in normal way.

  3. I am trying to cut sugar out of my life, but it’s made its way into “health foods”! I can’t find any yogurt that doesn’t contain sugar in some of the first ingredients, and renamed several times throughout the ingredient lists.

    How do I eat a healthy diet with all that sugar? I can cut chocolate and, obviously, other candies, but which foods DONT CONTAIN a lot of refined sugar?

    Fortunately, I’m not overweight, but this article mentions tat it can cause heart disease in slender people as well!

    1. Yes, you are right. Sugar is in everything. If you decide to cut sugar out of your life, then your diet has to change. I strongly support a pathway to health and longevity through eating foods – and that means moving away from processed foods towards whole foods. The best way to start on that path is by choosing a few things to get rid of and a few things to add.

      Dr. Scott

    2. The answer is simple, if its whole foods that aren’t processed then its good to go, sugar in nature occurs with the fibre, vitamins, minerals and other enzymes that allows your body to break them down, processed sugar and all the “ose” relatives becomes toxic in the body amdd isn’t just empty calories, theres is no use for this toxin in your body period. It is addictive, worse than cocaine and is the worst most destructive unregulated drug in modern western culture. As far as yoghurt goes, make your own and add berries. We need to love our bodies enough to take it to the next level. We have time for everything else let take the time to learn about where real foods are created. At home not in factory farms.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: