Thursday, February 02, 2012

Blog #3: Should Sugar Be Regulated like Alcohol and Tobacco?

A team of researchers at the University of California - San Francisco asserts that “sugar” presents enough health risks against it that it should be a “controlled substance” such as alcohol and tobacco. In their argument and studies, they write: “There is nothing empty about these calories. A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. A little is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly.” In addition to the harmful effects, the proverbial sugar high that almost everyone has heard of, or personally experienced, looks unfavorably when compared to the “sugar high” of Vodka – for vodka is a distillation of sugar.
The UCSF report also emphasizes the metabolic effects of sugar. Sugar alters a person’s metabolism, raises their blood pressure, and skews the signaling of liver damage. Ultimately, the team wishes for cities to agree, along with the other 20-or-so that already have, with a sugar tax on items that carry an excess amount of sugar – such as sodas. In their concluding statement, the UCSF’s director of the study says: “We recognized that there are cultural and celebratory aspects of sugar. Changing these patterns is very complicated. [But] We’re not talking prohibition. We’re talking about gentle ways to make sugar consumption slightly less convenient, thereby moving people away from the concentrated dose.”

People who are determined to eat – and drink – unhealthily will find ways to do it. Asking to invoke a sugar tax, and even a soda-tax, is pretty ridiculous to ask, as well as reminding people of those great years in the past when we had to answer to someone across the pond and pay a tax on this, that, and the other. I do agree that sugar needs to be cut down in all societies, especially the US (17% of US children and teens are obese); and across the world sugar intake has tripled in the past fifty years.
On a social problems scale, I find that “banding” sugar (in a way) is going to make people want it just that much more. People want what they can’t have, and if prices go up, people are going to go out of their way to get what they want. This will also create a new stigma on the more “sugary’ items, which will separate people on a critical basis on who eats what. I think researchers should put more time and money into coming up with better advertisements and awareness on the harms of bad quality food items – such as sugar, as well as the production of healthier foods at a lower price; rather than trying to bring back specific tax laws. 

No comments: