Hey, isn’t it time we regulate sugar like alcohol or tobacco?

posted at 9:52 pm on February 1, 2012 by Allahpundit

Per Coulter’s piece, I take it this is the conservative position now, yes? If we let the state require militia-age males to carry rifles, there’s really no reason we shouldn’t encourage it to intervene further in shaping people’s diets by making pixy stix cost 10 dollars. As long as it’s local government that’s doing the regulating and not the feds, go nuts.

Sugar meets the same criteria for regulation as alcohol, the authors wrote, because it’s unavoidable, there’s potential for abuse, it’s toxic, and it negatively impacts society. They write that sugar is added to so many processed foods that it’s everywhere, and people eat up to 500 calories per day in added sugar alone. Sugar acts on the same areas of the brain as alcohol and tobacco to encourage subsequent intake, they wrote, and it’s toxic because research shows that sugar increases disease risk from factors other than added calories, such as when it disrupts metabolism…

“We are now seeing the toxic downside,” co-author and sugar researcher Lustig, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment, told WebMD. “There has to be some sort of societal intervention. We cannot do it on our own because sugar is addictive. Personal intervention is necessary, but not sufficient.”…

“I don’t think people have any idea how many calories they take in when they take in soft drinks – particularly because they are consumed in such large quantities,” Nestle said. She thinks regulation could eventually be possible, since many local governments are already enacting policies to curb sugar in schools or tax sodas.

One of the co-authors has an op-ed at CNN making her case. She doesn’t want prohibition — imagine trying to enforce an outright ban on sugar — but rather “gentle ‘supply side’ controls, such as taxing products, setting age limits and promoting healthier versions of the product.” You would think that in an information age, as TVs and cell phones become ubiquitous even among the lower classes, nanny impulses would be channeled more frequently into public education campaigns than into regulation. Doesn’t feel that way, though, does it? You get the calorie counts on fast-food menus now, but you also get moronic attempts to ban Happy Meals in San Francisco. Maybe one begets the other — i.e. precisely because it’s easier to put the word out about food and nutrition, the nanny-minded become more aware of the dangers of certain substances and feel obliged to press harder for regulation. Or maybe it’s a simple matter of health warnings being drowned out by an expanding galaxy of ads for the dangerous products. I don’t quite buy that theory, though: Cigarettes haven’t enjoyed ubiquitous advertising and the actual packs have carried warnings for nearly 50 years, but somehow even that degree of informed consent is lately being deemed insufficient, thus requiring actual photos of people with tracheotomies on the packs — even though virtually everyone above grade school levels knows that smokes are a cancer risk. The more access to information you have, the dumber you supposedly are, and therefore the more your choices have to be made for you by your superiors. Isn’t the future glorious?

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