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Call For A National Campaign Against Sugar

By Karen Weintraub
Guest contributor

Did you add a packet or two of sugar to your morning coffee? Grab a mid-morning Coke? Eat dessert with lunch?

For typical Americans, sugar accounts for more than 600 of their daily calories.

Such high levels are so incredibly dangerous, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco write in a commentary in today’s Nature, that we need to launch a national campaign against the powdery white stuff.

But do we really need government in our sugar bowl?

Laura A. Schmidt, a professor at UCSF and one of the commentary’s three authors, compared eating lots of sugar to chain smoking and binge drinking. Sugar creates the same rush in the brain as drugs, and can also be addictive, she said, citing the obese kids in her clinic who constantly complain of hunger. Many of the metabolic problems we blame on obesity –- heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes –- are really the fault of sugar consumption, she and her colleagues wrote.

And society is paying a fortune to cope with health problems the UCSF trio blames on our sugar overload. The group estimates that Americans pay $150 billion a year in obesity-related health care expenses.

“The social costs to the whole society are great enough that we all have a stake in preventing the harm,” Schmidt said, just as we’re justified in restricting who can buy alcohol and cigarettes, where you can smoke, and how much you can drink before you can drive. Continue reading