Center for Consumer Freedom Responds to Authors’ Absurd Call to Treat Sugar Like Alcohol and Tobacco

Today, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is firing back against a Comment piece published in this week’s edition of Nature by Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt, and Claire Brindis that calls for strict regulations and high taxes on products containing sugar. The authors argue that sugar is “toxic” to our health and should thus be regulated like alcohol or tobacco.

Lustig and his co-authors put forward laughable suggestions such as placing an age restriction of 17 on the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages and regulating when and how retailers can sell packaged products containing sugar.

“This is social engineering at its absolute worst,” said J. Justin Wilson, CCF’s Senior Research Analyst. “To suggest that Americans should be carded when they try to buy a soda or a snack is not only outrageously absurd, but an ineffective solution to slimming Americans’ waistlines.”

Study after study demonstrates that targeting a single ingredient as the primary cause of obesity is the wrong approach to weight loss. Weight gain is a function of simple mathematics: calories “in” (food) exceed calories “out” (exercise). Of course, food scolds, like Dr. Lustig and many others, concentrate their policy making efforts largely on only one side of the equation (calories in).

Just because some like to have an extra brownie at lunch doesn’t mean every American is hooked on sugar. In fact, a newly published study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Americans are eating 3.5 percent fewer calories today than they were in 2000, and have cut their sugar intake by six teaspoons per day.  That’s a voluntary change that ordinary people have made. Furthermore, recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that the obesity “epidemic” seems to have leveled off.

“Obesity is a complicated issue with a myriad of solutions,” continued Wilson. “Suggesting that simply cutting out one ingredient is the answer to weight loss shows just how out-of-touch Dr. Lustig and his co-authors’ harebrained proposal truly is.”