Arguing that sugar is as additive as tobacco or alcohol, scientists at the University of California San Francisco say that the sweet stuff should be regulated in much the same way as those products. That means taxes to discourage consumption and age-dependent restrictions on how much can be sold to a consumer.
“The only method for dealing with this is a public health intervention,” said one of the scientists involved in the study, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF. “Everyone talks about personal responsibility, and that won’t work here, as it won’t for any addictive substance. These are things that have to be done at a governmental level, and government has to get off its ass.”
Pointing to results that show that 20% of obese individuals have a normal metabolism and no ill health effects, while 40% of individuals whose weight is considered normal have metabolic issues that could lead to diabetes or heart disease, the doctor claims that over-consumption of sugar, and not mere obesity, is the culprit.
And like tobacco and alcohol, he says that consuming sugar causes you to want to consume more sugar.
“The gestalt shift is maybe obesity is just a marker for the rise in chronic disease worldwide, and in fact metabolic syndrome, caused by excessive sugar consumption, is the real culprit,” said another co-author of the study.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
In their paper, they argue for taxes on heavily sweetened foods and beverages, restricting advertising to children and teenagers, and removing sugar-ladened products from schools, or even from being sold near schools. They suggest banning the sale of sugary beverages to children.
The authors admit that such regulations would only work if there is also a push to encourage people to eat healthier by making those less-sugary options as available as the stuff people currently eat.
“Everybody yells, ‘Nanny state, this guy is trying to control our food,’ ” says the endocrinologist. “But it’s already being controlled. It limits consumer choice when so much of our food is controlled by these industries. I’m actually trying to undo the nanny state.”
Asks Consumerist reader Matthew, “So I’m going to get ID’d in the snack aisle?”
UCSF scientists declare war on sugar in food [SFgate.com]