The next time you head down to the local convenience store to buy a can of soda you may need to have your driver’s license handy.
In recent months there has been a movement to make sugar – in particular high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a controlled substance, similar to alcohol and tobacco. This movement gained the attention of the public, and momentum, after an article written by scientists Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis titled “The Toxic Truth About Sugar” was published in Nature magazine. These scientists cited the numerous health risks associated with the consumption of HFCS as the main reason that the government needs to step in and control its use. Here are just a few of the health problems commonly associated with excessive HFCS consumption:
- Obesity: Consuming HFCS reduces your body’s natural ability to control your appetite and also makes it difficult to metabolize the food you eat. This means that not only will you want to eat more, but you’ll turn more of what you eat into fat and cholesterol. Obesity also carries with it its own health risks including diabetes and a heightened risk of heart attack.
- Anemia: In order to digest HFCS your body uses vitamins critical to your health. If your vitamin levels get too low you can develop anemia as a result.
- Weakened Immune System: Consuming HFCS can reduce production of hormones and enzymes in your body, which protect you from major diseases.
- Addiction: Consuming too much sugar can cause your body to crave more. Trying to cut back can then make those cravings stronger; this works in the same manner as drug addiction.
HCFS causes all of these issues and more, but the real question is what should we do about it? Treating HFCS as a controlled substance just may be the best option. When consumed responsibly the damage from HFCS can be minimized, but children and young adults often lack the ability to control their consumption. Making HFCS a controlled substance can help those who don’t have the will-power or freedom to help themselves.
One of the most compelling arguments for controlling the use of HFCS is the recent spike in childhood obesity around the world. According to the World Health Organization