Should Sugar be a Controlled Substance?

Posted February 6th, 2012 at 11:30 pm (UTC+0)
11 comments

Mmmmm ice cream (Photo: Katy Warner via Flickr)

Mmmmm a sweet treat! (Photo: Katy Warner via Flickr)

If you love your cookies and candy and can’t go a day without  your favorite soda or daily ice cream cone, then a new warning about the dangers of  sugar is bound to leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

California researchers are calling for sugar to be treated like a controlled substance – similar to alcohol and tobacco – in order to protect public health.

The researchers, from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF),  assert that sugar is fueling a global obesity pandemic, contributing to 35 million deaths annually worldwide from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The UCSF team argues  sugar is more than just empty calories which can make you fat. The team points out that sugar – taken in at levels typical of most Americans – alters a person’s metabolism, raises blood pressure, severely affects how our hormones send out signals to our body and causes substantial liver damage.

They compare the health hazards of sugar to the effects of drinking too much alcohol.

“There are good calories and bad calories, just as there are good fats and bad fats, good amino acids and bad amino acids, good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates,” says  Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF.  “But sugar is toxic beyond its calories.”

The commentary, published in Nature,  suggests than just educating people about the potential toxicity of sugar is needed.

“We recognize that there are cultural and celebratory aspects of sugar,” said Claire Brindis, a public health expert. “Changing these patterns is very complicated.”

Team members assert that focusing on just individual change alone may not be enough to effectively address this issue.  Instead, the team would like to see methods similar to how public health issues with alcohol and tobacco were handled.

(Photo: Ayelie via Flickr)

(Photo: Ayelie via Flickr)

These approaches might be the same as those used to reduce the consumption of tobacco and alcohol products; such as levying special sales taxes, controlling access to the product, and tightening licensing requirements on vending machines and snack bars that sell high-sugar products in schools and workplaces.

“We’re not talking prohibition,” says Laura Schmidt, a health policy professor. “We’re not advocating a major imposition of the government into people’s lives. We’re talking about gentle ways to make sugar consumption slightly less convenient, thereby moving people away from the concentrated dose. What we want is to actually increase people’s choices by making foods that aren’t loaded with sugar comparatively easier and cheaper to get.”

As you might expect, the Sugar Association, which represents sugar manufacturers in the United States, takes issue with the commentary, calling it  “non-scientific and irresponsible.”

The organization says the report lacks the scientific evidence or consensus to justify the report’s recommended policy interventions.

(Photo: Amarand Agasi via Flickr)

(Photo: Amarand Agasi via Flickr)

The Sugar Association argues it is irresponsible for health professionals to instill public fear by using words like “diabetes,” “cancer,” and even “death,” without admitting the science in this area is inconclusive.

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), an organization founded by scientists concerned that many important public health policies aren’t backed by  sound scientific evidence, agrees.

In a statement published on the organization’s website, Dr. Josh Bloom, ACSH’s director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, says, “The peg on which Dr. Lustig hangs his entire argument is flawed. Most fruits have quite a bit more fructose than sucrose. Does this make an apple unhealthy and in need of regulation? The fructose in an apple is the same fructose that is demonized in high fructose corn syrup. You can’t have it both ways.”

We’d like to know your opinion. Do you think sugar is toxic and should be controlled in ways similar to how alcohol and tobacco currently are?

11 Responses to “Should Sugar be a Controlled Substance?”

  1. Jannis says:

    THANK YOU GUYS WHO YOU TRY TO TAKE CARE OUR HEALTH… BUT WE DON’T NEED YOU !!!! WHAT ABOUT PRESERVATIVES WHO YOU USE IN THE FOOD (INCLUDES BABY FOOD)… I KNOW WHO SOME BODY LOOKS FOR A COUPLE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS…
    FROM THE STUDIES IN ALL OVER THE WORLD, THE HUMAN BODY NEED SUGAR, SALT, ALCOHOL ETC… SO THE HUMAN METABOLISM GONNA DECIDE WHAT NEED…
    THANX JANNIS.

  2. Jannis says:

    CAN YOU IMAGINE HALLOWEEN WITH NO CANDY… LOOOL

  3. Maria says:

    loool, almost something like that I heard about salt. Can somebody imagine a world with no taste???

  4. Syed Zahirul Abedin says:

    My sincere thanks to Dr Lustig and his team for conducting a major research in the area of public health. In fact, I stopped consuming raw sugar with tea and drinking beverages which contain high quantity of sugar when I read the findings of the research on Yahoo News website. I used to consume five to ten teaspoonful of sugar everyday with five to eight cups of tea. After I stopped taking sugar, I have started feeling comfortable both physically and mentally. My high blood pressure has gone down and it has been at normal level over the last two days without any medications. I have also been taking medicine for controlling acidity over the last couple of months. Surprisingly, I did not need any medicine for acidity over the last two days. Even, I have been experiencing sound sleep over the last two days.

    Zahirul Abedin
    Dhaka
    Bangladesh

  5. Okoro Leo C says:

    In the olden days here in Africa, it was widely believed that diabetes, cancer and other human organ diseases were the whiteman’s disease. But nowadays, these diseases have reached endemic proportions among the black folks. This is because Africans have abandoned their traditional African food to the western processed food and beverages. When we add that to the recent increase in the number of fast food joints and snack bars operating in our cities, it means we have not seen anything concerning these deadly diseases yet. In other words, the time to control our eating habit and regulate the quantity of our sugar intake is now.

  6. sam says:

    As soon as the word tax comes up all the science in the world goes out the window. Taxing behaviour is just a revenue stream for more bogus ‘sound’ research. Get off your arse and walk around you will not be fat.

    On the other hand get producers to simply reduce sugar in drinks. In europe soda have 3/4s the sugar than the USA and they taste better.

  7. Okoro Leo C says:

    Please, route all subscriptions to my Facebook.

  8. Jnan Bora says:

    Our physical body needs various things including sugar. But the chamically processed sugar is toxic,because it comes out from the manufacturing plant in combination with some harmful chamicals. Especially the white sugar is a dangerous substance. We get natural sugar from many fruits, vegetables, grain, cereals &c. In Nature, most fruits and vegetables are divinely cooked food items having right combinations of food values for human consumption. Sugar is good when it is in the right combination in nature as fruits,vegetables &c. But sugar is evil when it loses the natural combination and gets chamically extracted in the manufacturing plant. Similarly, alcohol is good when it is in right combination naturally existing in fruits,vegetables,grains &c. But it is evil when it it loses the original combination and gets extracted by chamical process in the brewery.

  9. Raja Gopal Nidubrolu,Guntur,India says:

    Not yet all…. Enjoy Sugar for FEASTS but not for Daily foods ….if it is tempting so much prefer Jaggery….Sugar can not be controlled….Let Sugar factories be converted to Ethanol factories…. However Sugar is the mother of modern diseases like Diabetes, Cardiac etc….. My experience with old farm community is Cigar is safer than Sugar……They,more than 90% are Cigar Lovers and enjoy Sugar once a while….When Cigar was discouraged why cann’t we ban Sugar and encourage Sugar cane for Ethanol manufacturing.

  10. boda orginal says:

    There is certainly a lot to know about this subject. I like all the points you made.

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