Tuesday, February 14, 2012

News Brief: A Spoonful of Health? UCSF Researchers Slam Sugar

Ariel Lefland

Have you ever imagined needing an identification card to buy food? Researchers are advocating for new regulations for foods processed with added sugars that could include taxes and age limits. They propose taxing processed foods that are sweetened with fructose or sucrose, arguing these added sugar compounds are more important additives to focus on than saturated fat and salt. Researchers also advocate taking fructose of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of ingredients Generally Recognized as Safe.
Although the FDA is not considering that step at this time, there has been much debate over this research since its recent publication in Nature by Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis of University of California, San Francisco. Researchers cite the growing evidence that connects over-consuming fructose with hypertension and diabetes. It is also possible that cancer and cognitive decline can also result. The Sugar Association argues that the consumption of cane and beet sugar has not been rising with obesity rates and that the data supporting the researchers’ claims is not yet conclusive.
The National Confectioners Association also responded to the report. Eating sweet foods such as candy is okay in moderation, especially in an overall healthy lifestyle. What really should be happening is a plan to help consumers make healthy decisions while also being able to enjoy sweets in their diet. Keeping your sweet tooth in check is something that all of us must do when sugary cereals, candy and other sugary foods are around us; however, obesity and heart disease result from more than just the presence of these foods. We need to effect long term change and healthy habits that include both eating well and exercising. A single food, as the Sugar Association argued, is not the cause for obesity. We cannot put all of the blame on our food; it is also a matter of our dietary behaviors.

Reference: Hobson, Katherine. "A Spoonful of Health? UCSF Researchers Slam Sugar." The Wall Street Journal. Health. Web. http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2012/02/02/a-spoonful-of-bad-health-ucsf-researchers-slam-sugar/. Feb 2, 2012
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