Sugar Can harm Like Alcohol and Tobacco; Regulate It, Article Says

Karen Kaplan | Los Angeles Times | February 1, 2012

In a provocative commentary coming out in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature, Dr. Robert Lustig and two colleagues from UC San Francisco argue that the added sugars in processed foods and drinks are responsible for so many cases of chronic disease and premature deaths that their use ought to be regulated, just like alcohol and tobacco.

To those who view sugar as more of a treat than a poison – and especially to libertarian-minded people who oppose government regulation in general – Lustig’s proposal is certainly a nonstarter. Public health advocates have spent years trying to enact a soda tax to discourage consumption of added sugar, and none of their efforts is close to succeeding.

But if you set aside both political reality and your sweet tooth, you have to admit that Lustig makes some good points. For starters, he and coauthors Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF aren’t claiming that sugar should be illegal or removed from the diet completely. They are focused on added sugars, which they define as “any sweetener containing the molecule fructose that is added to food in processing.”...