|Some (very tasty) death on a plate|
...should we establish a drinking age for sugary sodas? According to UC San Francisco pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, the answer is emphatically yes. He says that added sweeteners have health effects comparable to alcohol and tobacco, and should be regulated accordingly. In a comment piece for the journal Nature, Lustig and his colleagues argue that the state should selectively block access to sugar, using some pretty stiff rules.
Got that folks - sugar must be controlled because it's killing us! And what does this nannying fussbucket propose?
...establishing taxes on "sweetened fizzy drinks (soda), other sugar-sweetened beverages (for example, juice, sports drinks and chocolate milk) and sugared cereal." In addition, they advocate that we reduce the availability of sugar, particularly to children. This restriction would make it more difficult for vending machines to sell sweet drinks and sugary snacks in schools and in workplaces, building on already existing regulations that have removed sodas from some schools.
But this is just for starters - there's a main course:
States could apply zoning ordinances to control the number of fast-food outlets and convenience stores in low-income communities, and especially around schools, while providing incentives for the establishment of grocery stores and farmer's markets. Another option would be to limit sales during school operation, or to designate an age limit (such as 17) for the purchase of drinks with added sugar, particularly soda.
Well the planning control is already something UK local councils are introducing for fast-food - it's only a short step to the wrong kind of convenience stores (the ones that sell stuff people want to buy, for example).
And there's a handy "Big Sugar" to blame when people carry on eating the evil stuff:
We recognize that societal intervention to reduce the supply and demand for sugar faces an uphill political battle against a powerful sugar lobby, and will require active engagement from all stakeholders.
Just like the ever more draconian smoking controls, just like the campaigns against "cheap" alcohol and just like the moralising lectures about gambling and borrowing, this is simply an attack on a lifestyle people choose. It really is none of these unpleasant nannies' business whether people choose to eat sugar - death on a plate - rather than the carefully knitted organic lentils on offer at the Church of Public Health.
And, finally, don't think filling up on fruit is a solution - guess who the biggest baddest sugar is according to Mr Lustig?
If international bodies are truly concerned about public health, they must consider limiting fructose...
Naturally occurring, beneficial and energy-packed fructose is right in there with the denormalisation!
All you people who cheered at the smoking ban while scoffing on iced doughnuts. Who argue for minimum alcohol pricing while sucking Pepsi through a straw. All you athletes with your sugar-loaded energy drinks and health freaks with your fruit smoothies.