Sugar 'is toxic and must be regulated just like cigarettes', claim scientists
'A little is not a problem but a lot kills – slowly'Sugar 'contributes to 35m deaths a year' worldwide
Sugar is a poison and its sale should be as tightly regulated as cigarettes and alcohol, scientists say.
They warn that sugary foods and drinks are responsible for illnesses including obesity, heart disease, cancer and liver problems.
And they claim it contributes to 35million deaths a year worldwide and is so dangerous it should be controlled through taxation and legislation.
Sugar is 'toxic' beyond its calories, warn scientists. They suggest a sales tax licensing requirements on vending machines
In an article entitled The Toxic Truth
About Sugar, published in the journal Nature, the scientists add: ‘A
little is not a problem but a lot kills – slowly.’
The U.S. authors warn obesity is now a
bigger problem than malnourishment across the world, and that sugar not
only makes people fat but also changes the body’s metabolism, raises
blood pressure, throws hormones off balance and harms the liver.
The damage done mirrors the effects of
drinking too much alcohol – which the scientists point out is made from
The authors, led by Robert Lustig, a
childhood obesity expert at California University, say that, like
alcohol, sugar is widely available, toxic, easily abused and harmful to
They say teaching children about diet
and exercise is unlikely to be effective and instead the answer lies in
taxes and restricting availability.
The study recommends using taxation
to double the price of fizzy drinks, restricting their sale to those
over 17 or 18, and tightening regulations covering school vending
machines and snack bars.
Dr Laura Schmidt, also of California
University, said: ‘We’re not talking about prohibition. We’re not
advocating a major imposition of the government into people’s lives.
‘What we want is actually to increase
people’s choices by making foods that aren’t loaded with sugar
comparatively easier and cheaper to get.’
The article also reveals that
consumption of sugar has tripled in the past 50 years and that there are
now more obese people than malnourished ones across the world.
It concludes that responsibility lies
with the food companies, saying that while they may resist change,
shifts in policy are possible if the pressure is great enough. Examples
include the ban on smoking in public places and the fitting of airbags
The article ends: ‘These simple
measures are taken for granted as tools for our public health and
well-being. It’s time to turn our attention to sugar.’
However, other scientists have
described the essay as ‘puritanical’, saying sugar is only toxic when
eaten in unrealistic amounts.
Barbara Gallani, of the Food and Drink
Federation, which represents the UK food and drink industry, said that
while urgent action was needed to beat heart and other diseases, it was
wrong to focus on sugar alone.
She added: ‘The causes of these
diseases are multi-factorial and demonising food components does not
help consumers to build a realistic approach to their diet.
‘The key to good health is a balanced and varied diet in a lifestyle that includes plenty of physical activity.’