Societal Intervention


By Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.

This PACE exclusive community service health column has focused on the dangers of eating processed sugar for more than six years now.  The reason has been clear for a long time that constantly eating processed sugar ruins a person’s healthy mind and body.  Well, another group supports this health position, whereas a statement was recently issued from a group of progressive scientists who want the government to regulate processed sugar like it regulates the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

Make no mistake about it, processed sugar takes on considerable characteristics as a toxic substance when eaten in large amounts.  As odd as it may seem, what this particular group claims is endorsed by many other medical and health advocates.  Their proposal adds some specifics such as to regulate processed sugar sales to individuals less than 18 years of age, as well as placing extra taxes on processed sugar sales and those products with processed sugar added as ingredients.

If you want to know more about the origin on this group’s claim check out the Internet video title ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth”.  We have it posted on our web site, and the featured speaker is Robert H. Lustig, MD, University California-San Francisco (UCSF), who is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appears to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.

Dr. Lustig runs the obesity clinic at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, where he spends his days trying to help morbidly obese kids who feel hungry all the time.  One of the saddest effects of processed sugar overconsumption is to dampen the natural hormones that tell kids’ bodies when they have eaten enough, leading them to feel hungry even as they overeat.  He states in the video where is sees how eating too much sugar in these kids’ diets causes severe liver damage, where the hospital have even started doing liver transplants on some of the kids in his clinic.

The mere idea that we have to regulate ourselves from a substance that our parents, grandparents, teachers, clergy, neighbors, and friends provided us, often times in very large quantities, is extremely weird.  Taking a cue from the extra taxes the country derives from alcohol, tobacco and gambling, an added tax to processed sugar consumption seems appropriate.  Then again, we still have way too many drunk drivers and broken families from alcohol abuse; we still have way too many people gambling away their possessions from lost bets; and people still stupidly smoke to the point that tobacco sells are up worldwide.  Considering these negligible results in other sin taxes, will a processed sugar tax make a difference?  Only time will tell.

Mr. Jones is a marketing strategist with the Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), sharing his view on mismanagement practices of packaged foods & beverages.