To suggest that sugar should be regulated in the same way
that alcohol and tobacco are regulated sounds like a radical proposal. However,
many concerned scientists are suggesting exactly that. Is it just a case of
"Big Brother" telling us what to do or is there genuine reason for
Robert H. Lustig,Laura A. Schmidt and Claire D. Brindis of
the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) recently published an
article in the scientific journal Nature. Titled "The toxic truth about
sugar," they presented the argument that sugar should be regulated because
the public is largely unaware of just how damaging it can be to health. They
see a public awareness campaign combined with regulations designed to curb its
use as being as important as the anti-smoking campaign has been.
Is Sugar Regulation Really Necessary?
Lustig believes that,
"as long as the public thinks that sugar is just 'empty calories', we have
no chance in solving this." Far from simply lacking in nutritional value
and being fattening, he argues that sugar is actively detrimental to health and
cites a number of little-known facts, including:
•Sugar damages the
•Sugar alters hormone
•Sugar raises blood
•Sugar changes the
body's natural metabolism.
Why Regulate Sugar Now?
Sugar has been a part
of our diet for a long time, so why the urgent necessity to restrict its use
now? According to the authors of the Nature article, sugar is the primary
"fuel" of the now global obesity pandemic and is directly and indirectly
responsible for 35 million deaths per year from diseases like heart disease,
diabetes and cancer. This are more deaths than are attributed to infectious
In the past 50 years,
global sugar consumption has tripled and its consumption continues to grow. At
the same time, obesity and non-communicable diseases have been on the increase.
If the trend towards greater sugar consumption continues at the current rate,
the consequences could be catastrophic for everyone. Lustig also points out
that treatment of the diseases and their associated disabilities accounts for a
massive 75% of total U.S. healthcare costs. These are costs everyone pays for,
so everyone should be concerned.
Dr. Lustig, a
paediatric endocrinologist, is a passionate advocate of sugar regulation.
According to a recent UCSF online news release, his message is getting out.
Soon after being uploaded to YouTube, one of his lectures went viral, receiving
over half a million viewers.
While outright sugar prohibition is not recommended, who
could argue with the public's right to know the truth? Thanks to labelling
cigarette packages, we now know that smoking can cause cancer, heart disease
and a host of other diseases. Now that you know more about sugar, won't you
think twice before buying a sugar-laden candy bar? The choice is yours, but
isn't an informed choice better than a choice made simply out of convenience