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For the first time in human history, chronic non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, pose a greater health threat than infectious disease, according to the UN.
The UN targets tobacco, alcohol, and diet as the main causes of non-communicable disease, but while tobacco and alcohol are regulated, diet is not.
This, according the authors of this “Nature” Comment, leaves one of the primary culprits unchecked. They state that if international bodies really care about public health, they should consider limiting fructose consumption and its main delivery vehicles sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.
They argue that sugar consumption meets the same four criteria for regulation as alcohol: it is pervasive in the environment, it has toxic impacts, it has the potential for abuse, and it has negative impacts on society.
While acknowledging the difficulty in regulating the availability of sugar because of the powerful sugar lobby, the authors give several ways it could be done:
tax processed foods with added sugars,
tighten legislation about what can be sold in vending machines,
revise zoning ordinances to control fast food outlets,
designate an age limit for the purchase of sweetened beverages,
ban TV adds for such foods,
remove soft drinks from list of foods that can be purchased with food stamps,
and remove fructose from the Generally Regarded As Safe list.