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Excise Tax on Sugar?

The well-respected academic journal Nature published the article ‘The Toxic Truth About Sugar’, in its February 2012 issue, which is so much in tune with our own beliefs that we felt compelled to share some of its main ideas with you.

It all starts with the shocking revelation that the United Nations announced that for the first time in our history chronic non-communicable ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. pose a greater health burden worldwide than infectious diseases, contributing to a staggering number of 35 million deaths annually. There now happen to be 30% more people who are obese than those who are undernourished. The UN statement targets alcohol, tobacco and diet as the driving forces behind this problem, but, as the authors of the article in question mentioned, only two of these i.e. alcohol and tobacco are currently regulated by governments to protect our collective health. This leaves the third culprit, the Western diet, unchallenged.

Rather than solely focusing on the current dietary ‘black sheep’ of dietary fat, our attention should be turned to the real perpetrator, ‘added sugar’, particularly its fructose component (remembering that standard table sugar contains sucrose which the body breaks down into glucose and fructose at 50:50 ratio). Excess consumption of fructose comes with a long list of severe consequences such as hypertension, insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia, obesity, pancreatitis and liver dysfunction, putting its negative effects pretty much on par with chronic alcohol abuse. And to draw yet more parallels to tobacco and alcohol, sugar works on the brain the same way as narcotics by activating the pleasure centres, compelling us to eat more of it.

In the words of the authors of the article, “Nature made sugar hard to get; man made it easy” and our collective health is paying a hefty price. Which raises a big question – isn’t it time for policy makers to intervene and start regulating this toxic treat in the same way we do tobacco and alcohol?