Opinion: The dark side of sugar

POSTED: 02/3/12 2:20 PM

The question why now popped into our head when we read that researchers at the University of California in San Francisco reported that sugar is so toxic to the human body that the substance ought to be regulated as strictly as alcohol.
First, we wondered why the researchers come with this revelation now, because it is not all that new. Already ten years ago, two different Belgian web sites warned about dangers linked to (excessive) sugar consumption. Secondly, we wonder what the researchers mean by regulating sugar “as strictly as alcohol.” Are they suggesting banning the sales of sugar to kids under the age of 16? Or, to put sugar on a par with alcohol in the United States, make 21 the age limit for sugar consumption? Surely, these people are not serious.
Well, the researchers are proposing taxes on all food and drinks that contain sugar, they want to ban sales in or near schools and they indeed propose an age limit.
The Yahoo web site that reported the story, wrote that the ideas seem to come from the Journal Of Ideas That Will Never Fly, before getting serious and explaining exactly what sugar does to us all.
In the United States more than two-thirds of the population is overweight and half of them are obese. About 80 percent of obese people will get diabetes or metabolic disorders and they will die before their time.
The World Health Organization has established that there are now more obese people in the world than undernourished ones.
The world has moved on from natural sugar (that was only seasonal available from fruit) to added sugars. Manufacturers add the stuff to anything and everything, from soup and bread to soft drinks. Americans consume on average more than 600 calories a day from added sugar.
Lead-researcher Robert Lustig compares added sugar to tobacco and alcohol because it is similarly addictive and toxic and because of its negative impact on society.
Lustig wants to ban the sale of sugary drinks to children under the age of 17. He also proposes tight zoning laws for the sale of sugary beverages and snacks in and around schools and in low-income areas with a high prevalence of obesity.
Economists think that taxing sweeteners at the manufacturer level is a more effective way to deal with the issue, but how this would keep products with added sugar out of the hands of children and obese people is unclear.
The economists however, argue that taxing ingredients will give companies an incentive to add less sweetener to their products.
Remarkably, the dangers sugars pose to our health were already the subject of several articles ten years ago. In 2003, a Belgian web site quoted an American professor named Cheraskin claimed that sugar causes a disease he labeled as hypoglycemia (the opposite of diabetes) – though many physicians at the time did not acknowledge that such a disease exists. Cheraskin claimed that excessive sugar consumption affects people’s mental health.
A year earlier, another Belgian web site noted that processing refined sugars puts the human body under pressure. The story quoted a dietician who said that a sugar-rich diet causes all kinds of shortages that in turn lead to physical complaints.
Most people obviously just need their common sense to arrive at the conclusion that lots and lots of sugar are not really good for the body. But since sugar is literally everywhere, it is hard to escape the stuff.
Still, the Californian research is, if not all that new, at least a nice opportunity to highlight that dark side of sugar one more time.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: The dark side of sugar by

Comments are closed.