Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Susan Pedigo

Relational Format



Living in present-day America makes it hard to imagine an era when sugar was not as inexpensive and readily available as it is now. It is in little colorful packets on restaurant tables, filled to the brim in jars at coffee shops, or mixed into candy products located at the beginning of every cash register. Today, sugar is one of, if not, the most widely consumed food products in the world, but our love for sugar is nothing new. Humans have been experiencing the bliss triggered by sweet-tasting foods since their earliest diets, which included fruits and honey. Our diets became even more sugar dense when Europeans figured out how to affordably and effectively mass-produce cane sugar, gaining the common people access to what is now referred to as table sugar. Consumption of this natural sugar has gained the negative reputation of displacing nutrition from diets and contributing to healthcare problems such as obesity and type II diabetes. The 20th century saw the invention of artificial sweeteners, a product created to keep the beloved sweet taste in the American diet while keeping the unwanted effects like weight gain out. In the face of the growing obesity epidemic, Americans have been turning to these engineered sugar substitutes as a tool to manage or even lose weight. Sugar-sweetened beverages, specifically carbonated soft drinks, are the greatest source of calories and added sugar in the American diet, and their high sugar and excess calorie content provides a platform to examine the paradox of artificial sweeteners, and how the American consumption patterns are correlating to a very ill America. More than one third of the United States is obese, and while there are levels of responsibility in the hands of the consumers, food administrators and public health officials are not innocent, and their help is required to reverse this growing epidemic.

Included in

Chemistry Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.