Sugar may be sweet, but it could kill you

Published 10:12 am Thursday, February 2, 2012

As if we needed any more evidence, a California university panel of researchers is now arguing that sugar is so toxic to the human body it should be regulated, just as alcohol is regulated.

The researchers, whose proposal is in the most recent issue of the journal Nature, say taxing all foods and drinks that include sugar and banning the sale of sugar-laden foods and beverages near schools is a justified step, according to an Associated Press article.

Yes, that’s crazy. But consider these facts:

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• Americans consume an extra 600 calories per day from added sugar – or approximately 40 teaspoonsful.

• More than two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight, and about 80 percent of those diagnosed as obese will develop diabetes or metabolic disorders that shorten their lives.

• A growing body of research points to the toxic nature of sugar: fructose becomes a chemical in the body which can be processed mainly by the liver. Doing so causes a ripple effect among other disorders.

So as sweet as it sounds, sugar in excess is dangerous, experts say.

Taxing, regulating or attempting to control the consumption of sugar likely would be as effective as Prohibition was in the early 1900s. High-fructose corn syrup is pervasive in our diets – used by corporate food manufacturers to enhance the taste of a broad spectrum of processed and pre-packaged or prepared foods.

The answer, ultimately, lies in an overhaul of the American diet. A growing movement advocates the return to a simpler diet: fresh, local, filled with fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat grown close to home and consumed in season. Grains and complex carbohydrates round out the diet and sweets – when consumed – come from natural sources.

The challenge, though, for many Americans is breaking away from the convenience of prepackage and prepared foods to return to healthier, simpler dietary options. Eating more like our grandparents and great-grandparents did may just be the answer to offsetting the disturbing trends of declining health.