The Sugar Debate

The Sugar Debate

Thu 08 Mar 2012

Story by Jo Creed

Whether sugar should be taxed or not is currently a topic of debate. Many people believe that sugar has much in common with heavily controlled substances, like alcohol and tobacco, due to its potential health impacts and should therefore be treated the same and taxed.

However, sugar remains on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of safe foods, any amount can be added to any food. This we know all too well, sugar is commonly added to foods in large amounts, often in order to make them more appealing. Take for instance flavoured milk; flavoured milks often contain between 2.5 and 4 teaspoons (that’s between 40 and 64 extra calories) of added sugar, on top of the 12grams (3 teaspoons) of lactose (its natural sugar) in order to make them sweeter sand more appealing to kids. This means that often milk, an otherwise healthy drink, can contain as much sugar, or more than, a 8oz serving of fizzy soda.

The Argument FOR Regulation

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are among those who argue that added sugars, defined as ‘any sweetener containing the molecule fructose that is added to food in processing’ ought to be regulated by the government.

This argument is based on beliefs that sugar can have a negative impact on society, much the same as tobacco and alcohol. UCSF Scientists have listed a number of reasons why sugar ought to be regulated, suggesting that sugar can increase:

Blood pressure, leading to hypertension (high blood pressure)
Insulin resistance, which can lead to an increased level of blood sugars and which can result in type 2 diabetes if not controlled
Triglycerides levels (high blood levels of fat)

$150 billion is already spent by the US on health care and $65 billion in lost productivity each year due to health issues associated with metabolic syndrome, a group of diseases which include the above.

UCSF scientists also list that sugar has become unavoidable, with added sugar consumption tripling worldwide over the past 50 years, and in many areas of the world, people consume 500 calories a day from added sugars alone. Read more about this topic here.

What Can You Do?

While sugar cannot be classed as the only problem in the obesity epidemic, it must be considered as one…

• Be aware of your daily sugar intake and consumption of added sugars. Always check the labels of food you buy and see how much added sugar they contain
• Avoid regular consumption of sodas and sweets high in sugar. Once in a while treats are ok, but just not every day.
• When possible stick to from scratch home cooking. That way you can control just how much sugar you add to your foods.
• And remember to choose plain, white, wholesome milk only and encourage your kids to do the same.

What Do You Think About Taxing Sugar?

Let us know whether you agree or not by posting on the Facebook Food Revolution Community wall.

Find out more about the Food Revolution’s milk campaign here and join our Flavored Milk group to be a part of the conversation with hundred of other revolutionaries advocating for plain, white milk.

Read more about this topic, the UCSF scientists view and the paper that inspired this article here.

Jo Creed
Food Revolution Team

Taken by Brandon Hickman during a demonstration to show just how much sugar kids in the LAUSD were getting each year through flavored milk served in schools alone (note flavored milk has now been removed from LAUSD schools).


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