Is Sugar as Bad as Alcohol and Tobacco?

Researchers who study the effects of sugar on the body say it should become a controlled substance. Biologically, it interacts with our body in ways similar to alcohol and tobacco.

What's the Latest Development?

How cruel that something so sweet could be so bad for us. Yet researchers confirm that a diet high in sugar can result in some very serious health consequences. Much like alcohol, sugar can change metabolism rates, raise blood pressure, cause hormones to misfire and cause liver damage. Laura Schmidt, a researcher at UC San Francisco, wasn't surprised at the findings: "When you think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense. Alcohol, after all, is simply the distillation of sugar. Where does vodka come from? Sugar."

What's the Big Idea?

Schmidt and her co-authors recommend taxing sugary foods and controlling the product's availability to individuals under 17. They insist they do not want excess intrusion and regulation, however. By making healthier foods more price competitive with sugary snacks, they say individuals' freedom of choice would be increased. The current obesity pandemic, to which sugar contributes, is estimated to cause 35 million annual deaths worldwide from noninfectious diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

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