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The World Spins Madly On: Sugar rapidly becoming as harmful as alcohol

We all consume sugar regularly and enjoy feasting on the nicknamed “empty calories.”

Unfortunately, there are many more aspects to sugar than just added calories. In fact, recently, a question has been raised asking whether we should regulate sugar intake similar to how we regulate alcohol.

At first, it seems absurd. However, the idea of limiting sugar might not be so ridiculous after all.

This is not to say the government should interfere with our sugar cravings, but sugar shouldn’t be everywhere we go. Along with that, we should be educated on the harms of sugar and be encouraged to avoid it when possible.


According to an interview on NPR with Robert Lustig, a pediatrician at UCSF, the average American drinks 57 gallons of pop in a year (or 600 cans).

Americans consume an additional 450 calories daily from sugar, excluding fruits. Studies show that this excess sugar, specifically fructose, is just as hard on our livers and pancreas as alcohol.

Not only do sugars play a similar role to alcohol in their ability to harm our bodies, but these sugars also can be addictive. Numerous studies show that our brain reacts the same way to sugars as it does to nicotine, tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and heroin.

Many believe that fats are the cause for obesity, but in reality, sugars are to blame. In the past 30 years, the fat consumption in the U.S. has dropped from 40 percent to 30 percent, yet obesity is at its peak.

Interestingly enough, sugars also drive us to excess consumption. Fructose does not suppress our hunger hormones. Originally, our bodies weren’t even designed to take in sugar, but as we have become immune, we have become addicted and just can’t seem to put down the cookies.

Consumption of sugar worldwide has tripled during the past 50 years, creating an obesity pandemic. Obesity isn’t our only worry though; we are also fighting with metabolic syndromes. Metabolic syndrome doesn’t correlate directly with obesity but does, however, lead to diabetes, heart disease and various cancers.

So, should we tax and regulate sugared products like we do alcohol? I think yes. It seems a bit extreme, but it might be a necessary step to save our country’s health. With one in three Americans developing diabetes and with obesity rates consistently increasing, America has evolved into an extremely unhealthy, fat nation.

Millions of dollars are spent within the U.S. on obesity, metabolic disease and diabetes. We have the potential to save almost $147 billion a year if we somehow eliminate sugar from our diet.

As college students, eating is our go-to fix. Stressed? Eat a box of Girl Scout cookies. Sad? Eat a pint of ice cream. Bored? Eat a Twix. It’s how we handle our emotions. However, we should probably put more of an effort into more-healthful alternatives and breaking our addictions with sugar.


Olivia Harlow is a sophomore studying journalism and photojournalism and a columnist for The Post. Email her at

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