A Call to Arms: The War on Sugar

New York Times columnist Mark Bittman delivered this commentary on Marketplace Radio:

Mark Bittman: Florida state Sen. Rhonda Storms could never be thought of as progressive. But her bill puts her in the same camp as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who suggested something along similar lines, only to have it batted down by federal ag officials, who described it as “too complex.”

Well, what’s not complex is our relationship with sugar. We eat too much of it: half a pound a day per person – and it makes us fat. The processed food industry says sugar is not to blame. A calorie is a calorie, they say. Limit your total calories – regardless of where they come from – and your health will be fine. That’s total nonsense. A calorie of refined sugar is far more likely to cause damage to your body than a calorie of, let’s say, fiber.

With sugar, we’re in a situation where a dangerous substance is perfectly legal and available everywhere. It’s sold without restriction to everyone, and it’s marketed, with billions of dollars, to children before they can even speak, let alone reason… What choice do we have but to regulate it, just as we would – and do – regulate tobacco and alcohol and, for that matter, firearms?

This is so obvious that Florida state senators not known as forward-thinkers can see it, though the Department of Agriculture evidently can’t. But this is precisely what government is for: to protect us from the things from which we cannot protect ourselves. Sugar is not exactly an invading army, but it can be thought of as a hostile force, and the processed food industry has succeeded in getting us to eat way more of it than is good for us. Will power alone isn’t enough to stop that: we need national defense.

Oh, my. First I note the reflexive use of the terms “progressive” and “forward-thinkers” to mean “believing that government should make your decisions for you.” I look forward to a day when it won’t be regarded as progressive to take autonomy away from adults.

Second, note the hysteria and militarism: “a dangerous substance is perfectly legal and available everywhere. It’s sold without restriction…. [like] firearms….Sugar is not exactly an invading army, but it can be thought of as a hostile force….we need national defense.”

Wow. Sugar … it’s “the moral equivalent of war.”