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article imageOp-Ed: Regulation of sugar, like alcohol and tobacco, recommended

By Paul Wallis     Feb 2, 2012 in Health
Sydney - Around 35 million people die of sugar-related medical conditions around the world annually. The situation is now so bad that a University of California San Francisco study has called for regulation of sugar consumption.
Science Daily explains the health issues in the study:
…Sugar, they argue, is far from just "empty calories" that make people fat. At the levels consumed by most Americans, sugar changes metabolism, raises blood pressure, critically alters the signaling of hormones and causes significant damage to the liver -- the least understood of sugar's damages. These health hazards largely mirror the effects of drinking too much alcohol, which they point out in their commentary is the distillation of sugar.
Biologically, it’s a matter of having enough sugar and avoiding having too much. Sugar is a key metabolite, and in some forms it’s beneficial, but there’s absolutely no doubt that too much of it is potentially lethal. Diabetes is the best known sugar-related medical condition, but there are many possible effects of a high sugar diet. Raising blood pressure can cause instant, serious damage to people at risk. Hormonal disruption can be extremely difficult to manage. Liver damage can be pure misery for those afflicted.
Regulation of sugar, however, would be a massive task. Modern food technology consumes enormous amounts of various types of sugars, which are used for almost all processed consumer foods. The mere mention of the word “regulation” will inevitably get resistance from the anti-regulation lobbies. If it costs money, it will as usual get high resistance from the various interests opposed to spending public money in the public’s interest.
There is another, much cheaper, way of reducing sugars in foods, and you can do it yourself, without a committee:
Stop using refined sugars. These things have no food value at all. They’re often used habitually. If you want sugar, use raw sugar, which is food and you need less of it. (It does taste different, but it’s easy to get acclimatised to it.)
Eat wholegrain breads. These things are better balanced and work with their own sugars, rather than letting added sugars go on the rampage.
Low GI food is also very good food. It gives energy and much better balanced nutritional values.
Eat vegetables, whenever you can. Veg are the very high value foods that provide a lot of the most important nutrients.
Avoid fats. Fats are utterly useless. You’re supposed to grow your own fat. When you eat too much of it you are, quite literally, asking for trouble.
(A “balanced” diet is actually “balanced” in more ways than one. Foods are used to synthesize important materials for use in the body. If you have all of one component and none of the others, the one you have is valueless and your imbalanced diet means you don’t have the things you need. That means your body simply can’t make the things it needs to make.)
For manufacturers, there’s an easy solution- Stop adding sugars and caramels to everything. It's long been well known that the human body responds better to less processed foods with more natural food elements.
There’s a good reason for that- The liver can get more value out of the less processed foods. The additives are just that- expensive additions to real food. I recently bought a “diet” meal, and couldn’t eat it because some genius had decided to add some sort of fat, probably as a thermal agent for microwaving. It was absolutely inedible. Without it, the food would have been fine.
If the food industry wants to both make money and be seen to be finally doing something about issues people have been complaining about for decades, reduce the processing. Stop adding these bells and whistles to real food. If people want flavors, sell them separately.
(This approach also minimizes supply chain impact and avoids massive retooling costs. It will work.)
Just eat well, and eat real food. That’s all that’s needed.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Sugar, sugar dietary problems, deaths and sugars, regulation of sugar in food, UCSF
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