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Should US Regulate Sugar like Tobacco, Alcohol?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 10, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco believe the U.S. should regulate sugar. The group recently published an article in Nature magazine, explaining that sugar is a toxin -- it causes liver damage, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. It kills people slowly.

On average Americans consume 40 teaspoons of added sugar a day. It's thus become a major public health issue, much like tobacco and alcohol. The researchers argue it should therefore be subject to similar, if not more stringent, regulations.

Suggested regulations include taxing sugary foods and drinks; limiting sugar in and around schools; anti-sugar warning labels; and restrictions on who can purchase sugar-laden products.

This last regulation would mean no purchases for persons under the age of 18. Mom or dad would need to buy the candy bar and soda instead.

If the U.S. wants to regulate sugar in these ways, it can. The federal government has the power to impose taxes and the ability to regulate products sold in interstate commerce. The Food and Drug Administration can also adopt warnings and age restrictions when backed by scientific evidence.

States can also regulate sugar. The federal government sets minimum school food standards, but local governments can choose to go further. They, too, can tax and impose age restrictions on sugary products.

But just because the government can regulate sugar, it doesn't mean it will. Or that it should. What do you think? Is it a good idea, or should the government stay out of your food?

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