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A drinking age for soda?
Doctors argue that sugar is a potentially deadly poison like alcohol and tobacco — and that we ought to treat it like one
 
A team of doctors is pushing for government regulation on high-sugar foods, even suggesting an age limit for the purchase of drinks with added sweeteners.
A team of doctors is pushing for government regulation on high-sugar foods, even suggesting an age limit for the purchase of drinks with added sweeteners.
TWPhoto/Corbis

Everyone knows that eating too much sugar is bad for you. But researchers are now going much farther, arguing in the latest issue of the journal Nature that the sweet stuff is downright toxic, just like alcohol and tobacco. People who devour a lot of junk food do face an elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. The solution? Researchers suggest going after sugar the way we do alcohol and tobacco — with laws to reduce sales in schools and low-income neighborhoods, and even an "age limit (such as 17) for the purchase of drinks with added sugar." Do we really need a drinking age for soda?

What a preposterous idea: Here we go again, says Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker. The champions of the nanny state have now decided that we're all "too stupid" to make our own choices about what to eat, so they're going to make our decisions for us. In a democratic society, where people are "sovereign over their own lives," that sort of freedom-trampling government interference is just not acceptable. Maybe we should "start to think about regulating hubris, instead of sugar."
"Here it comes: sugar as a regulated substance"

Well, we have to try something: If there's one main culprit behind the current obesity epidemic, it's sugar, says Barbara Kay at Canada's National Post. "It's time to acknowledge that fact and act on it." We can't treat it exactly like tobacco — setting a soda-drinking age is excessive. But we should mount aggressive "educational campaigns to wean households" off sugar. And imposing taxes is fair "because we all pay for the health care of people" who eat too much sugary poison.
"Evil is among us. And it’s called sugar"

It's a worthy idea, but unworkable: Other countries have tried to shoo people away from sugary sodas with taxes, and 20 U.S. cities and states are considering it, says Bonnie Rochman at TIME. But a 2010 study suggested such policies don't bring "significant weight loss" because people find ways to get their fix. Why? "Sugar, for so many people, is love." And as long as a warm chocolate chip cookie provides comfort and happiness a stalk of celery can't provide, "regulating sugar will prove particularly tricky."
"Should sugar be regulated like alcohol and tobacco?"

 

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