It's addictive, unregulated, and linked to multiple adverse health effects. It has even been branded a toxic substance. Yet sugar remains an almost inescapable ingredient in the modern American diet.
US policy for decades has emphasized making cheap food available, promoting dairy, corn and other grains. This has successfully supported those sectors of American agriculture, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California San Francisco. But while farmers, and especially food producers have profited, consumers are paying a double price.
Federal crop subsidies have effectively held down food prices for American consumers. But Dr. Lustig suggests there is a downside to that, too.
French farmers stuff geese with carbohydrates to produce fatty livers for pate. Humans are doing much the same to themselves by consuming too much sugar. The consequences, only now becoming apparent, will likely be devastating, in an emerging epidemic of what Lustig terms, fatty liver disease.
In Lustig's view, sugar, and fructose in particular, should be regulated as a toxic substance that can have adverse health affects, just as we do with alcohol, which has similar metabolic consequences. But he knows that's not likely to happen any time soon.