Sugar: Toxic or Tame?

5 years ago

Ok here’s my disclaimer:  I like chocolate cupcakes.  I like ice cream pies from Baskin-Robbins (particularly the pralines & cream ones).  My 4-year gets a chocolate donut once a week after church on Sunday.   I let him drink the kids hot chocolate from Starbucks. He eats cookies sometimes and birthday cake when we’re invited to a classmate’s party.  We don’t avoid sugar like the plague. But we don’t serve dessert with every meal either.


Since reading about a new study in the science journal Nature, I’ve been doing a mental “sugar inventory.” I’m trying to figure out how much sugar do we consume and is it all that bad?


The article is called “The Toxic Truth about Sugar,”

written by Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist from the University of California San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s hospital and Laura Schmidt, a medical sociologist.  In short, they say sugar screws up your metabolism and it interferes with your brain when it’s telling you “ok you’ve had enough to eat.”   They are particularly concerned about the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

  “Many of the health hazards of drinking too much alcohol, such as high blood pressure and fatty liver, are the same as those for eating too much sugar,” Schmidt wrote in an op-ed for CNN.


The authors argue that sugar is toxic and should be treated like alcohol and tobacco. Among their recommendations:


-       Taxing products that have high levels of sugar

-       Getting sports drinks and junk food out of schools

-       Convincing local officials to regulate how junk food is marketed by businesses surrounding schools

-       Removing sugar from the US Department of Agriculture’s list of foods that are “generally regarded as safe.”


There’s another side of the argument though.  It comes from the sugar industry and others who say, “Wait a minute, isn’t it the job of parents to decide how much sugar a child should or should not consume?”


In a statement the sugar industry says, “The authors of the comment conclude their piece by proposing that the government all but takes over our food system. We are confident that the American people are perfectly capable of choosing what foods to eat without stark regulations and unreasonable bans imposed upon them.  There is an obesity problem in our country that can lead to the very serious heath issues mentioned in the comment- but it originates from the combination of overconsumption of all foods and a lack of exercise.”


I’m curious what you think.  Is sugar toxic or tame?


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