Citing reasons ranging from the childhood obesity epidemic to heightened diabetes, liver problem, and high cholesterol risks, a group of researchers has published a commentary in the journal Nature urging the government to regulate sugar in the same way it regulates alcohol and tobacco. Journalist Christopher Wanjek reports on LifeScience.com:
The researchers propose regulations such as taxing all foods and drinks that include added sugar, banning sales in or near schools and placing age limits on purchases.
Although the commentary might seem straight out of the Journal of Ideas That Will Never Fly, the researchers cite numerous studies and statistics to make their case that added sugar — or, more specifically, sucrose, an even mix of glucose and fructose found in high-fructose corn syrup and in table sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beets — has been as detrimental to society as alcohol and tobacco.
[Robert] Lustig, a medical doctor in UCSF's Department of Pediatrics, compares added sugar to tobacco and alcohol (coincidentally made from sugar) in that it is addictive, toxic and has a negative impact on society, thus meeting established public health criteria for regulation. Lustig advocates a consumer tax on any product with added sugar.
Among Lustig's more radical proposals are to ban the sale of sugary drinks to children under age 17 and to tighten zoning laws for the sale of sugary beverages and snacks around schools and in low-income areas plagued by obesity, analogous to alcoholism and alcohol regulation.
Image: Sugary sprinkles, via Shutterstock.