Friday, February 3, 2012


After a long day of driving, driving, driving to Charleston, WV, and back yesterday (the older I get the less I care to drive, but the older my husband gets the less I want him to drive! So there you go, I'm the chauffeur), we settled down to watch Brian Williams, who relayed this little tidbit about sugar.

Which basically says there are some scientists and policymakers who think sugar consumption should be regulated. Like alcohol! And tobacco! Imagine that.

©Debora McNeer
Toward the end of the segment, Dr. Nancy Snyderman mentions that artificial sweeteners, which taste sweeter than refined sugar, actually trick our brains into wanting more, more, more. The last couple of days I've indulged in sugar-free soda and sugar-free pudding (both are permitted on the South Beach plan) and bingo! The sugar blues have been hitting me hard.

A more in-depth look at the issue of regulating sugar can be found in yesterday's L.A. Times. And here's a .pdf file of the journal article.

The article points out that the four criteria for justifying government regulation apply to sugar as much as they do alcohol:

  • It's unavoidable in society
  • It's toxic
  • It can be abused
  • It's bad for society

My current diet is sugar-free, to the best of my ability, and has been for nearly three weeks. I don't see this changing for quite some time. Nor do I see public pressure rising to force the FDA to begin regulating sugar consumption in the United States. (Can you imagine the outcry from the current Republican-controlled Congress? Nanny state! Personal responsibility! Let them eat cake!)

I'm not even sure I agree that sugar meets the four criteria. Yes, it's unavoidable and I'd have to agree that it can be abused. But is it bad for society? Or toxic?

Advocates for sugar regulation claim it is. And so did William Dufty in his book Sugar Blues. He relates an experiment during World War II in which two groups of dogs were given only plain water or sugar water for a period of time. The sugar-water group became sick and/or died before the control group did. (Can you imagine what PETA would do if this happened today?)

I've been an advocate for single-payer health insurance for many years. One of the main arguments against it is this: What would happen to all those people who work for health insurance companies? You know, the ones who fight with your doctor's office staff about whether you should take Drug A or Drug B, or receive Test Y or X-ray Z.

Should sugar come under federal regulation, what would happen to all the cake pop shops?

Just as I'm better off a nicer person sane when I don't drink alcohol, I believe, for me, that the quality of my life – and my husband's! – goes up when my consumption of sugar goes down. But I haven't purged the pantry of the baking chocolate, homemade marmalade (SOB!) or 10-pound bag of Domino's. Yet.

Maybe if I wait long enough, the DEA will raid my kitchen and I won't have to. I wonder if they serve marmalade in prison …


lyndagrace said...

I agree, I am not quite sure that sugar actually completely meets all of the the four criteria. But what a great diversion from the mess our country is in. Can you imagine the debate in congress over that one? Be careful, you just might be called upon to testify, but for which side? :)

Debbi said...

I read the .pdf and I'd probably come out on the side of regulating sugar. Then again, would coffee be next? Arghhh, dilemmas, dilemmas!