Here it comes: sugar as a regulated substance

Thomas Lifson
You're too stupid to know what to eat, but fortunately your betters are about to prevent you from harming yourself by eating stuff that you like. Welcome to the new America, where people who think they are smarter than you get to run your life. CBS News reports:

A new commentary published online in the Feb. 1 issue of Nature says sugar is just as "toxic" for people as the other two, so the government should step in to curb its consumption.

The United Nations announced in September that chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes contribute to 35 million deaths worldwide each year, according to the commentary. The U.N. pegged tobacco, alcohol, and diet as big risk factors that contributed to this death rate.

Two of those are regulated by governments, "leaving one of the primary culprits behind this worldwide health crisis unchecked," the authors, Robert H. Lustig, Laura A. Schmidt and Claire D. Brindis, argued.

They said that over the past 50 years, sugar consumption has tripled worldwide. That's also helped contribute to the obesity epidemic - so much so that there are 30 percent more obese people in this world than there are malnourished people.

Sugar meets the same criteria for regulation as alcohol, the authors wrote, because it's unavoidable, there's potential for abuse, it's toxic, and it negatively impacts society. They write that sugar is added to so many processed foods that it's everywhere, and people eat up to 500 calories per day in added sugar alone. Sugar acts on the same areas of the brain as alcohol and tobacco to encourage subsequent intake, they wrote, and it's toxic because research shows that sugar increases disease risk from factors other than added calories, such as when it disrupts metabolism.

I would like to inform the public-spirited authors that hubris -- particularly the sort of hubris that causes people to believe they should be telling others how to live their lives -- is also toxic. It leads to all sorts of negative consequences for society, particularly in a democracy in which liberty to pursue happiness is a foundational concept, and in which individuals are sovereign over their own lives. It also makes the carrier -- the person who has the hubris -- a pain to those with whom he or she interracts, and may even generate violence in certain circumstances. Maybe they should start to think about regulating hubris, instead of sugar.

Decades ago when I studied the emergence of the modern world, I discovered that sugar played a unique role in the historic economic development of the world. It turns out that when ordinary people (say, in 18th century England) for the first time acquired disposable cash income beyond what was necessary to sustain life (something that rarely happened before modernity and technology yielded new wealth), they tended to spend their new income on sugar consumption more than on any other product. In other words, people really, really like sweet stuff, and sugar delivered sweetness that provided consolation and pleasure to those whose lives previously had been mired in poverty and a relentless quest for mere survival another day.

But what people want means little to those who believe they are endowed with superior wisdom.

I choose to limit my sugar consumption, and try to avoid completely high fructose corn syrup and other such sweeteners. The fact that these substitutes do not even factor into the article tells me that these people aren't even really serious.

But if they are serious, they are about to get a whuppin' in the realm of public relations that they will not soon forget.

You're too stupid to know what to eat, but fortunately your betters are about to prevent you from harming yourself by eating stuff that you like. Welcome to the new America, where people who think they are smarter than you get to run your life. CBS News reports:

A new commentary published online in the Feb. 1 issue of Nature says sugar is just as "toxic" for people as the other two, so the government should step in to curb its consumption.

The United Nations announced in September that chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes contribute to 35 million deaths worldwide each year, according to the commentary. The U.N. pegged tobacco, alcohol, and diet as big risk factors that contributed to this death rate.

Two of those are regulated by governments, "leaving one of the primary culprits behind this worldwide health crisis unchecked," the authors, Robert H. Lustig, Laura A. Schmidt and Claire D. Brindis, argued.

They said that over the past 50 years, sugar consumption has tripled worldwide. That's also helped contribute to the obesity epidemic - so much so that there are 30 percent more obese people in this world than there are malnourished people.

Sugar meets the same criteria for regulation as alcohol, the authors wrote, because it's unavoidable, there's potential for abuse, it's toxic, and it negatively impacts society. They write that sugar is added to so many processed foods that it's everywhere, and people eat up to 500 calories per day in added sugar alone. Sugar acts on the same areas of the brain as alcohol and tobacco to encourage subsequent intake, they wrote, and it's toxic because research shows that sugar increases disease risk from factors other than added calories, such as when it disrupts metabolism.

I would like to inform the public-spirited authors that hubris -- particularly the sort of hubris that causes people to believe they should be telling others how to live their lives -- is also toxic. It leads to all sorts of negative consequences for society, particularly in a democracy in which liberty to pursue happiness is a foundational concept, and in which individuals are sovereign over their own lives. It also makes the carrier -- the person who has the hubris -- a pain to those with whom he or she interracts, and may even generate violence in certain circumstances. Maybe they should start to think about regulating hubris, instead of sugar.

Decades ago when I studied the emergence of the modern world, I discovered that sugar played a unique role in the historic economic development of the world. It turns out that when ordinary people (say, in 18th century England) for the first time acquired disposable cash income beyond what was necessary to sustain life (something that rarely happened before modernity and technology yielded new wealth), they tended to spend their new income on sugar consumption more than on any other product. In other words, people really, really like sweet stuff, and sugar delivered sweetness that provided consolation and pleasure to those whose lives previously had been mired in poverty and a relentless quest for mere survival another day.

But what people want means little to those who believe they are endowed with superior wisdom.

I choose to limit my sugar consumption, and try to avoid completely high fructose corn syrup and other such sweeteners. The fact that these substitutes do not even factor into the article tells me that these people aren't even really serious.

But if they are serious, they are about to get a whuppin' in the realm of public relations that they will not soon forget.