In the most recent edition of the medical journal Nature, Dr. Robert Lustig and co-authors Laura Schmidt and Clair Brindis make an argument for regulating access to sugar similar to the restrictions placed on alcohol and tobacco. Dr. Lustig, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California San Francisco, writes that sugar is responsible for an increasing number chronic diseases around the world.
Lustig’s call for regulations is sure to be controversial, just as the soda tax debate has been in the past. However, Lustig says that health risks posed by increased levels of sugar consumption makes it a danger that should not be left to individual responsibility alone. The paper outlines how sugar alters the body’s chemistry, not only leading to problems like metabolic resistance but also leading people to crave more and more sweetness.
The paper further argues that sugar is a bigger underlying than obesity alone, noting that 40 percent of individuals with a normal weight have metabolic resistance problems that can lead to diabetes and health disease. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, which is three times as much as was consumed 30 years ago.
The authors call for the FDA to take sugar off the list of substances that are “generally regarded as safe,” and to implement a number of further restrictions. Some of the proposed regulations include limitations on where sweets can be advertised and restricting sales to children.
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