Ah, sugar, sugar, sugar
I have read several articles and heard much discussion the last few days about sugar. It appears that some people want to control sugar as a "substance" similar to alcohol, tobacco and trans-fats. My biggest question is why?
I understand that we should eat less sugar. Studies show that consumption of large quantities of sugar tends to lead to an increase in body mass (aka fat and obesity which both lead to diabetes), tooth decay and a whole host of issues (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar#Health_effects). However, what is "large quantities"? It depends on age, diet, physical condition and more importantly genetics.
So, the science says it is bad. What do we do about it? Force people to choose the way we think is best for them? Anyone remember the 18th Amendment? That is the one in which manufacture, sales, transportation. import, and export of alcohol, aka intoxicating liquors, were out-lawed. Some people thought alcohol was bad and were determined to force others to their opinion. They stated that alcohol consumed in large quantities leads to bad results in health and possibly effect others. Any deniers there? Probably not. So let's ban it again! (heavy dose of sarcasm here). Notice how when something is banned, demand goes up, prices go up and a black market appears as if out of nowhere.
Did the 18th Amendment work? How many historians, or anyone else for that matter, think it worked? I believe that answer is nearly zero. Let's not repeat that with sugar.
Other than making sugar illegal, many suggest another method that they think will deter the masses from using sugar: taxation. Has that ever worked? It has been done with many things, including tobacco, and usually is unsuccessful. Let's examine the taxation of tobacco. Do you think that an extra $1 per pack (or however much the tax actually is) will cause some teenager to think something like: that is just too much money for a packet of ciagarttes, maybe I should save that dollar for something else. Does anyone think it stops smoking? No, it just costs more for those that choose to participate and pay for it. It really does not change their behavior.
What will change their behavior is a proper example from parents who show they care and talking about choices and consequences with children.
So, if congress does add a tax to sugar will it be only cane sugar? will it include sugar from beets? from carrots? Will it include the concentrated apple, pear and grape juices (really sugar water) that get added to drinks and can still be labeled as 100% juice? Will it include corn syrup? honey? Real maple syrup? Agave? Where will it stop? If glucose is banned then there will be an instant market for fructose. Then if fructose is banned something else will rise?
Making sugar illegal will not work and taxation will lead to a plethora of unintented consequences and not work anyway. What to do? How about a couple first steps. 1) Get rid of the subsidies given to farmers, large producers and especially corn growers. How about tossing out All subsidies? That will allow companies and growers to proudce really what is best. It might also be similar to a taxation but take less from my pocket. 2) Talk about sugar... think anti-smoking commercials but with sugar. Those might work, maybe.
Let's take these first two steps prior to the drastic measure of taxing sugar.