Maybe it’s because today is Groundhog Day, and as in the enormously entertaining movie of that name, I have the disquieting suspicion that I’ve been here before.
An article in TIME asks rhetorically “Should Sugar Be Regulated Like Alcohol and Tobacco?” then gets busy answering its own question by quoting extensively from a pre-study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The answer—a resounding yes—is intimated more grimly in the work’s title: “Public health: The toxic truth about sugar.”
The article, by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), states:
There is nothing empty about these calories [from sugar]. 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.
Here the authors are just getting warmed up. They have released a video version of their message in which lead researcher, Professor of Pediatrics Robert Lustig, gravely intones:
We are in the midst of the biggest public health crisis in the history of the world—and nobody even gets it. Nobody understands how important this is because they don’t consider it public health. They consider it personal responsibility.
Eventually the good doctor gets around to making his point, dismissing the bromide “It’s your fault” by ruefully observing, “I take care of obese 6-month-olds; it ain’t their fault.”
The fault, rather, rests with wholesale ignorance of the dangers of an evil white powder (a different evil white powder), consumption of which worldwide has “tripled during the past 50 years and is viewed as a key cause of the obesity epidemic.”
It’s scary stuff, but so is the team’s prescription: “Take 2 cc’s of government intervention and call me in the morning.” Somewhere, Michelle Obama’s ears are burning.
The idea of taxing sugar is nothing new. As the TIME article points out, Fance, Greece, and Denmark already tax soda, and 20 U.S. cities and states are contemplating following their lead. “Last summer, Philadelphia came close to passing a 2-cent-per-ounce soda tax.” But an endorsement like this and a federal government that is both deep in the red and in love with regulation are a marriage made in hell.
One of the most disconcerting comments in connection with the UCSF team’s proposal is this one by team member Laura Schmidt:
We’re not talking prohibition. We’re not advocating a major imposition of the government into people’s lives. We’re talking about gentle ways to make sugar consumption slightly less convenient, thereby moving people away from the concentrated dose. What we want is to actually increase people’s choices by making foods that aren’t loaded with sugar comparatively easier and cheaper to get.
The last time a promise with a tone that reassuring was made, 6 million people ended up receiving a surprise rather than a shower.
- Study: No link between junk food in schools and childhood obesity
- LA school district lunch program spawns thriving junk food black market
- Michelle Obama’s MyPlate food guide a spectacular failure
- TX schools to install cafeteria “cams” to monitor student food choices
- Study suggests “food stamps” contribute to childhood obesity
- First Lady: Childhood obesity is a “national security threat”
- Is more government intervention the answer to the problem of childhood obesity?
- White House kid indoctrination video contains dangerous nutritional advice
- Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales
- Studies show you can lead a diner to a menu with calorie counts, but you can’t make him order wisely
- Government wants to ban potatoes from school lunches
- Salt talk: Bloomberg wants to cut salt–from YOUR diet
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