Have you heard about the latest proposal from Mayor Bloomberg?
In an effort to combat obesity, the mayor has proposed a ban on the sale of sugary drinks that are over 16 ounces in size. This proposal would apply to regular soft drinks, sweetened energy drinks and pre-sweetened bottles of tea, but would not include fruit juices, diet sodas or any dairy-based drinks (including milkshakes).
Not surprisingly, this is a rather controversial topic.
In fact, it was recently discussed by a panel on Fox News–> a panel which included my mentor, clinical nutritionist Natalia Rose. It’s a great clip to watch, if you have 10 minutes to spare:
[source <-- click here to watch!]
This proposal is obviously opposed by the soda industry, which feels that soda has been unfairly singled-out as the culprit behind the obesity epidemic. (Though, just 1 can of soda a day does equal 50 lbs of sugar in a year!)
The plan has also been criticized as an attempt at unnecessary regulation, with critics arguing that we should let people decide for themselves how much soda is too much. Of course, nothing in this proposal is stopping you from buying two 16-ounce drinks, if you’d like to!
So, the question stands–> Is sugar too addictive to be truly be eaten in moderation? Is education enough, or is regulation necessary?
Since we already regulate other addictive substances– like tobacco and alcohol– how is sugar any different?
According to Dr. Robert Lustig,
“We have not had any success with educational efforts alone. All of our success with any one of those substances of abuse have come through regulation. We’re proposing that sugar be looked at in the same vein.” [source]
When it comes to high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugars, I couldn’t agree more.
Personally, I think added sugars are toxic and that, as a society, we’d benefit from some regulation. Sugar is hidden in everything!
Note: The average-sized women should be consuming no more than 6.25 teaspoons of sugar each day; for men it’s no more than 9.4 teaspoons. [source] (For reference 4 grams sugar = 1 teaspoon.)
One 16-ounce soft-drink contains nearly 13 teaspoons of sugar–> more than double the recommended daily amount in just one drink!
Mayor Bloomberg’s other radical regulations include banning smoking in restaurants and parks, and prohibiting trans-fat in restaurant food–> both of which have influenced many other cities to follow suit! I must admit, I’m a fan of both of those regulations as well.
Really, I’m a fan of banning any substance that is proven to be harmful to human health. Would we be okay with consuming arsenic in moderation?
*Apparently many of us are okay with that… studies have shown that the final Splenda product contains small amounts of heavy metals (like lead) and arsenic (rat poison). [source] So, think twice before you decide how to sweeten your next tea or coffee!
Edited to add: I realize that government regulation is a tricky subject, as it could start a domino effect of other regulations, but what I like about this particular idea is that it is NOT proposing a ban on sodas, or even on refined sugar, for that matter. It’s only making us reevaluate our concept of portion-control when it comes to this addictive substance. We’ve already lost our right to buying truly raw almonds and many raw dairy products in our US grocery stores, which many would argue are actually “health promoting” products, but refined sugars and chemicals, which have been proven to cause us harm, seem to be surprisingly unregulated. Obviously there has to be some sort of regulation in our food supply, to hold manufacturers accountable to certain health standards, so I guess it’s just a matter of where we draw the line!
Reader Feedback: What do you think? Should sugar be regulated? Do you think it’s as addictive or habit-forming as tobacco or alcohol? Personally, I think it’s almost worse, because unlike an alcohol or tobacco, we are confronted with sugary options daily! Plus, it’s socially acceptable to be addicted to sweets, and friends or co-workers may assume you’re “too restrictive” if you turn them down!