According to the World Health Organization, the world has reached a historic landmark. There are more people in the world right now that are obese than that are undernourished. That’s right, obesity actually outnumbers starvation and nutritional deficits on international average. And everyone’s favorite sweet treat, sugar, is being labelled as the main culprit.
Processed foods have long been under fire for using sugar unnecessarily. Manufacturers add sugar to almost anything, tarnishing the natural goodness of things like fruit juice, applesauce, and soup. The average American consumes over 600 calories today from added sugar alone. That means sugar that is not native to food and is added for extra taste. Why do manufacturers feel like they must add sugar to everything? Simple. Taste. Sugar makes things taste better, and competition has bred an environment where companies must add more and more sugar to keep their products attractive to customers. However, a journal by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco suggests that sugar is actually a toxin. It is so toxic, in fact, that they are suggesting worldwide regulation of it in the vein of alcohol and tobacco. The journal touts taxation of products that include added sugar is a good way to discourage the practice, as well as putting age restrictions on the products as well. If these suggestions ever made their way into law, people could actually have to prove their age with a photo ID before purchasing cookies or even fruit juice with added sugar. The journal goes on to make the bold claim that sugar is as bad for society as alcohol and tobacco.
There’s a lot of truth in the stance. After all, smokers are frequently condemned by non-smokers for knowingly poisoning their bodies, and increasingly, society has less and less sympathy for people that die from tobacco-related causes. Alcohol abusers poison their livers until they cannot function, and no one really feels sorry for them. And yet, our children and adults alike are gorging themselves on sugar, getting fatter and fatter, and no one attaches the stigma to it that comes with other abuses. An epidemic of diabetes is taking over the world’s population directly because of sugar, and yet no one is outraged. And sugar is addictive as well. After all, children are raised on products in the United States with plentiful added sugar to the point that they think that this is what it is supposed to taste like.
In any case, this is a conspiracy in the making. No matter how many nutritionists and scientists come out in support of these measures, you can bet that major manufacturers that make sugar their bread-and-butter (like Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Keebler, and Nabisco) will spend untold millions to make sure Congress never poses any bans on sugar in America. Another example of why Americans need to educate themselves on what they take into their bodies, and not rely on an organization like the FDA, which is just as susceptible to lobbyists as any other government organization.
Is sugar poison? Hardly. But it can be, like most things, if not enjoyed with some moderation.