Study recommends government regulations on sugar
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Most of us don’t think twice when ripping open a bag of candy, or even drinking a glass of fruit juice, but a controversial commentary is calling sugar just as harmful as alcohol and tobacco. And, the editorial published in the science journal “Nature” says sugar consumption should be regulated by the government.
It’s estimated the average person consumes 90 grams of added sugar a day – that’s about a half a cup a day – and five times the recommended amount.
You might consider it the undercover ingredient that sneaks its way into many foods and we don’t even realize it, like yogurt and sports drinks. And, believe it or not, it’s even added to frozen vegetables.
“The more sugar you consume, the more calories, which leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other significant health problems,” said Doctor Donna Bacchi, with Upstate Medical University's CNY Master of Public Health program.
Dr. Bacchi says there is a place for some kind of regulation on the sweet stuff to better protect people who don’t usually read nutrition labels.
“They must read the front of the package, and with advertising, a lot of it says low fat or whole grains and they think it's healthy," Dr. Bacchi said.
But with less fat, or sodium, Dr. Bacchi says sugar is most often the substitute for flavor and it can be addicting.
"There are some studies that show sugar works on the brain the way other addictive substances do such as alcohol, such as tobacco,” Dr. Bacchi said.
But U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer says regulation through taxes, age restrictions and other policies far oversteps government boundaries.
"If you don't want to eat sugar – fine, but to say that if you want to eat sugar every adult can't decide for themselves how much they want, it's sort of un-American,” Senator Schumer said.
If you’re wondering what the recommended sugar intake is, it’s between 20 and 30 grams a day – that’s about one can of soda. For a child it’s about half that at 11 grams.
Remember, all foods contain sugar – whether it’s natural or added – so you want to stay away from the added stuff. Doctors recommend what are called “whole” foods, which use fresh fruits and vegetables as substitutes for some of the foods you eat now.
For example, instead of buying blueberry yogurt, use plain yogurt and add fresh blueberries. That way you’re getting about half the sugar.