Grab Your Candy Bars and Run! Health Experts Take Aim at Sugar

chocolate barFirst they came for your trans fats. (Gross.) Then they came for your soda. (Whatever, water's cheaper anyway.) But now a group of scientists has a food ingredient in its sights that will really hit a lot of us where it counts: sugar.

Researchers at University of California, San Francisco, say sugar's damage goes way beyond making us fat through empty calories -- that it's actually toxic, leading to metabolic changes that can cause diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other deadly diseases. Eating sugar to excess, they say, is like drinking to excess. Consequently, they suggest, public health policy should be reshaped to control sugar the way it does alcohol and tobacco: possibly by boosting sales taxes on sugary products, controlling access to them, and changing licensing requirements on vending machines. 

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The researchers say they're not advocating a major intrusion into our lives – "We’re not talking prohibition," one said – but they do want to make it harder for people to eat sugary snacks.

You know what I say to that?

Get your hot little mitts off my mid-afternoon candy-bar break, people! No, seriously, I'm sure these worthy, learned scientists are perfectly right. All those cookies and candies and cupcakes we're consuming might just kill us someday. Bite by bite, they are probably shuttling us swiftly toward our doom. But at least we will have lived a sweet life! 

Honestly, I'm not a big one for sugary drinks, but a life without chocolate, I believe, would barely be a life worth living. Can't we just all agree only to eat sweets and sugary snacks in moderation? Can't we trust ourselves to make those decisions for ourselves? Do we really need someone to levy an extra tax on our candy bars and cookies to get us to make healthy choices? (Soda, I could see …) And what about birthday cakes, will we start taxing those?

Maybe these scientists are right and we really do need the government to take action to nudge us toward making healthier choices. But I find it sort of depressing. Sigh.

Hmmm ... Is it time for that candy-bar pick-me-up, yet?

What do you think of the idea of battling sugar as a public health hazard?


Image via peter pearson/Flickr

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