February 2, 2012
Doctors Say Sugar Should Be Regulated Like Alcohol, Tobacco
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A group of doctors have published a report claiming sugar should be regulated and taxed by the government in much the same way as tobacco and alcohol.They claim that sugar, at the rate most Americans consume it, is more than empty calories. Sugar changes metabolism, raises blood pressure, alters the signaling of hormones and causes damage to the liver. These are similar to the health hazards posed by excessively drinking alcohol which is made from fermented and distilled sugar.
The researchers claim that sugar consumption worldwide has tripled over the last 50 years, and is a major cause to the worldwide obesity epidemic. But, they argue that obesity may just be a marker for the damage caused by sugar´s toxic effects.
According to Claire Brindis of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), one of the contributors to the report, people are not going to change by themselves. In order to push people away from sugar, there has to be community-wide and environmental intervention, much like what has happened with tobacco.
In other words, the researchers agree that sugar should be taxed and regulated by the government, either local or federal, thereby increasing the price and pushing people away from sugar consumption.
Some of the regulations that would be placed on sugar would be limiting its availability in schools and workplaces, especially vending machines.
Dr. Laura Schmidt (also from UCSF), who contributed to the report, said “What we want is actually to increase people´s choices by making foods that aren´t loaded with sugar comparatively easier and cheaper to get.”
But some critics disagree with the report. The Sugar Association told CBS News that they dispute the science presented, namely the tripled sugar consumption rate that they say is based on incomplete science.
Another critic Barbara Gallani, of the Food and Drink Federation in the UK, says sugar alone is not the sole cause of heart disease and other sugar related symptoms. She told the DailyMail, “The causes of these diseases are multi-factorial and demonizing food components does not help consumers to build a realistic approach to the diet.”
The researchers published their study and commentary in the Feb. 2 issue of Nature.
On the Net:
- University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
- Sugar Association
- Food and Drink Federation
- Nature Abstract