Sugar: As bad as booze?

A recent study suggests putting an age limit of 17 on soda pop.

Photograph by Grace Protopapas A recent study suggests putting an age limit of 17 on sugary soft drinks

A new study is suggesting sugar is so toxic it should be treated like alcohol.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a childhood obesity expert at the University of California, says consumption of sugar has tripled worldwide because it’s added to almost all processed food. He suggests putting an age requirement  of 17 on soda pop or taxing beverage companies using fructose, which the report claims causes obesity and liver toxicity.

However, Dr Alan Barclay the Chief Scientific Officer for the Glycemic Index Foundation Ltd and head of research at the Australian Diabetes Foundation says fructose is not solely to blame.

“Casting sugar as the ultimate villain and calling for regulation is misleading, unfounded and unnecessary,” says Barclay, “One would need to eat at least 135g, or about 32 teaspoons, of pure added fructose per day on top of what one already eats [to get liver toxicity].” he says.

Most scientists do agree though that large amounts of sugar are too prevalent in the diet of children and can have a negative impact in the long term.

“An unhealthy habituation or addiction to sugar, which influences lifetime health, can be established from a very young age when the ability and capacity to make informed eating choices are simply unavailable,” says Prof Leonie Segal, the Chair of the Health Economics & Social Policy Group at the University of SA.

This is vindication for some parents who are campaigning across North America to try to ban soda pops and candy bars from vending machines at schools.

“There is evidence to show that increasing sugar-sweetened beverage intake does cause modest weight gain,” says Prof Peter Clifton, the Head of Nutritional Interventions at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Here, in North America, where the average waistline is expanding drastically, Lustig argues the onus must fall on the government and manufacturers of food to reduce the amount of sugar they use.

However, this information won’t budge the Canadian Beverage Association who sell about $5 billion dollars of product in Canada each year. They claim no scientific evidence exists that a single food or beverage can be linked to obesity.

So for now, the ID can go back in the wallet. It’s unlikely you’ll get carded for a soft drink anytime soon.

Comments are closed.