Petition To Get Sugar Classified As A Controlled Substance Hits FDA

By Victoria Kim 05/03/18

The petition is calling for sugar products like high fructose corn syrup to become a scheduled drug, alongside heroin and LSD.

White Sugar In Form Of Skull And Crossbones.

Is sugar just as harmful as heroin or cocaine? Some people believe so, as evidenced by a recent petition submitted to the FDA requesting that added sugar be classified as a controlled substance.

The Citizen Petition for Stricter Regulation of Added Sugar, submitted by Joshua Brooks (affiliation unknown), specifies that the petition is referring to added sugar, “sugar that does not exist naturally and are added to foods or drinks upon preparation or processing”—though some do not see a difference between that and cane sugar.

Brooks believes that added sugar should be placed in either the Schedule I or II category under the Controlled Substances Act—categories that include heroin and cocaine, respectively.

Schedule I drugs are defined by the federal government as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. LSD and cannabis also reside in this category.

Schedule II drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse, "with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence." Methadone, methamphetamine, cocaine, and Ritalin are among the drugs listed in this category.

Brooks’ request to the FDA may seem extreme, but he may have a point, notes Dr. Lynn Webster, vice president of scientific affairs for PRA Health Sciences, in The Hill.

Webster cites the current obesity epidemic in the United States, which results in between 112,000-365,000 annual deaths, according to CDC estimates.

“Even if we conservatively take the lesser number, that still represents 3-4 times more deaths than the number of opioid-related deaths in the U.S.,” writes Webster, who is also a former president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

Obesity results in premature deaths and billions of added healthcare costs to treat diabetes, heart disease, and obesity-induced joint destruction, Webster notes.

Not everyone amongst science and medical experts agree that sugar is as harmful as some say. On the other hand, some studies have claimed that consuming sugar produces similar effects to using cocaine, in the way it generates a feeling of reward and craving.

“It is evident sugar is highly addictive,” the Citizen Petition reads. “Added sugar contains no essential nutrients. Its only purposes are to create better tasting drinks and foods and to give a shot of energy.”

Some go so far as to call sugar “toxic”—whether it is cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

To suggest that effectively prohibiting and criminalizing the consumption of sugar may be going too far. Perhaps Brooks' petition would be more effective as a warning to the public about the potentially harmful nature of this particular substance. 

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr