Psst! Put down the holiday cookies for a minute. Do you have a general household policy on sugar? Are you the sort of family that swaps Halloween candy with your kids for safer or healthier treats? If your kids complain about how you approach the sweet stuff, they might be interested to know it could be stricter. A lot stricter. A growing number of researchers are starting to compile a body of evidence saying sugar and other sweeteners are actually toxic to the human body. So much so they should be government regulated like alcohol and cigarettes.
An article in the journal Nature by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) proposes taxing all food and drinks that contain added sugar. Perhaps they’re friends with New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who banned the sale of large sugary drinks like soda. The UCSF researchers also suggest banning sales in or near schools and putting age limits on sugary items, according to an article on LiveScience.com. The reasoning behind their proposed bans? They say sugar increases blood pressure, cholesterol, liver failure risk, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It has hit a nerve. Dr. Robert Lustig, the UCSF specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and an expert in childhood obesity, has nearly 3 million hits on his sugar-related YouTube video.
The New York Times Magazine gave the same topic, including Dr. Lustig, a cover story entitled Is Sugar Toxic? in 2011. Not only does figuring out the answer to this question stand to help people who are obese or have diabetes or metabolic disorders, it could save substantial U.S. health care dollars spent on these diet-related illnesses. As the medical community works to get clearer answers to this great sugar debate, suddenly a mass market chocolate swapped for a Fair Trade one doesn’t seem like much of a hardship. You can go back to your holiday cookies now.