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Should Sugar be Regulated Just Like Tobacco and Alcohol?

35 million people die each year due to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The major risk factors causing these diseases are tobacco use, alcohol use, and poor diet. Two of these factors are regulated by the government: tobacco and alcohol. Professionals are now arguing that sugar is the other main culprit of these diseases and should also be put through the same regulations as alcohol and tobacco.

In the past 50 years the worldwide sugar consumption has tripled. This has contributed to an obesity epidemic. As a result, there are now 30 percent more obese people in the world than malnourished people.

Just in America alone, people are consuming nearly 500 calories a day in added sugar. That’s not naturally occuring sugars like the ones found in fruit, but food and drink with sugar specifically added in. Soda is a major source of this added sugar as the average American is is consuming 57 gallons of soda a year, over half on which is not diet or sugar free soda.

The researchers are stating that these levels of sugar consumption are toxic and hard on the liver just like alcohol. Also, sugar can disrupt metabolism which causes the risk of many other diseases.

The co-author of this study and movement is sugar researcher Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment. Lustig says, “We are now seeing the toxic downside,” referring to all the elevated rates in disease. His study is clear to mention that obesity is just one marker of the ill effects of high sugar consumption, but it is not the only indicator that people are getting sick. “40 percent of normal-weight people are developing diseases like diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems, heart and liver disease.”

The printed study also states, “it’s time that the government steps in and regulates sugar in ways similar to tobacco and alcohol. That includes taxes, age restrictions and other policies to control the distribution of sugar.”

Lustig and his colleagues are finding some support for their proposal. Dr. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, stated that she agrees in policy changes, since many Americans take in about 25 percent of their daily calorie intake through sugar.
“I don’t think people have any idea how many calories they take in when they take in soft drinks – particularly because they are consumed in such large quantities,” Nestle said. She thinks regulation could be possible, since many local governments are already enforcing policies to reduce sugar in schools or even tax sodas.

It’s no surprise that the Sugar Association and the American Beverage Association were not supportive of this policy. They believe the studies are skewed and there should be more focus on the dangerous uses of alcohol and tobacco along with addressing the issue of inactivity among the population.

Everyone in this battle makes some good points. It may be worthwhile to consider though, that just 50 years ago, this was nearly the same kind of debate that took place over the health and regulation of tobacco. Well, we know how that one turned out.

February 18th, 2012

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Whether or not it affects people that way doesn't change the fact that it isn't right for the government to regulate something that only has potential danger to whomsoever uses it, but not those who don't. Anything a person does throughout their life has a potential danger to it, if the government were to regulate it all then We The People would have no freedom (even less than what we already have). Although I agree that tobacco and alcohol are harmful and should be used responsibly, just like sugar, the use of substances such as those are the right of the user. The only substances that should be [illegal or] regulated are those where the user is likely to be of harm to other people, as they are then using their rights to impede on the rights of others. Alcohol is one of those that can be harmful to other people by someone using it (drunk drivers, violent drunks, etc), as is tobacco (second hand smoke). These substances are regulated in an appropriate way, e.i. letting those who are of age use them as they wish, but with guidelines in place as to how they should be used and clear warnings of their danger. Other substances, like cocaine, heroin, meth, pcp, etc., are incredibly harmful to the user and those around the user, hence their illegality (but the use alone of these substances should be cause for help rather than punishment... I digress...) Sugar, on the other hand, may harm the user in the long run, but its use does not harm those who aren't directly involved, therefore one's right to ingest sugar does not endanger or impede on the rights of others. If the government were to step in and stop people from doing something they wish to do that can harm them, even if no one else is harmed, (such as eating a box of powered donuts), the goverment is ignoring basic human rights. There are natural rights people have, to live as they wish, to follow the pursuit of happiness, to make their life the way they want it.. Who is the government to deny such rights to the common people? It is immoral for them to do such a thing. If people want to eat sugar, let them eat sugar. If people want to eat sugar until they're overweight, let them. If they want to do it until they are sick as well as fat, let them. I find that a bit disgusting, but that's why I don't eat enough sugar to do that to myself. People need to learn to make their own choices and accept the consequences, without playing the blame game. You can't expect the government to tell you how to live, you must do what you do and accept the outcomes of your choices because they can not be changed once they happen. The world is over-populated as it is, we don't need every obese person living an extra fourty years and reproducing, adding more and more and more little fatties to our planet, depleting our resources faster... We live in a society where everything has been made easy for us; that has its fair share to do with the obesity epidemic. I personally believe that those who make the right choices FOR THEMSELVES and no one else are the ones who live the best lives, not those who settle with the choices their government has made for them. "Those who have never seen freedom do not know they are being oppressed."

posted Feb 19th, 2012 1:22 am


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