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Should Sugar be Treated Like Stoli?

University of California researchers call for sugar to be regulated and taxed in a similar way to alcohol and tobacco.

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As dangerous as it is sweet? Thinkstock

By Jason Gotlieb

02/01/12

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An editorial published by a group of researchers claims that sugar is as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco and should be regulated in a similar way. Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Clair Brindis, of the University of California, San Francisco claim in Nature journal that the rising costs of obesity, diabetes and other diseases, indicate that sugar should be controlled and taxed with government regulations that mimic those applied to alcohol and tobacco. The authors want to tax all processed foods containing added sugar, including soda and other sugary drinks. They even go as far as to call for a minimum age requirement on certain sugary foods. Sugar is currently on the US Food and Drug Administration's list of unregulated foods "Generally Regarded as Safe." So companies may add as much sugar to their products as they want; the UCSF researchers seek to change this. But dissenters say that sugar isn't what's killing people; it's excess that leads to obesity. Dr. David Katz, the co-founder of the Yale Prevention Center argues, "Regulating nutrients is a slippery slope. The focus should be on the overall nutritional quality of foods, not just one nutrient."

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