Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
What do incandescent light bulbs and cupcakes have in common? The state Cupcake Police are about to take away your right to eat a Twinkie. I first heard about this from Rich Lowry who wrote an article for the National Review, Introducing the Cupcake Cops. These are the same food terrorists who want to take away your rights to drink a bottle of pop or eat a doughnut. This time it’s a college professor from University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Robert Lustig. I would call them all morons, but that would give morons a bad name.
It’s the same old story—publicity seeking exaggerators trying to make headlines in the journals of medicine with bogus or incomplete research. You know the story, first they come for your Ramos Fizz, then your soda, and now they want to take away your donuts and cupcakes. If they had their choice they would launch Occupy C&H and camp out at a sugar plantation in Hawaii.
Lowry warns that the day will arrive when you have to undergo a background check and endure a three-day waiting period to enter a Dunkin’ Donuts. You can trace the loss of your unrestricted access to a Boston Kreme or French Cruller to this very moment… namely the publication in the journal Nature of an article calling for complete regulation of sugar as a deadly health hazard.
Lustig stops just short of calling for an all-out prohibition of sugar—that might be taking it a little too far (at first), but he does compare the consumption of sugary beverages and foods to the slave trade. As you can guess like most people of his ilk Lustig is not given to understatement. In a video discussion with his cohorts, he says that thanks to sugar and its contribution to chronic noncommunicable diseases like heart disease and diabetes, “we are in the midst of the biggest public health crisis in the history of the world.”
My goodness, could this be bigger than the bubonic plague that killed nearly half the population of Europe in the 14th century? Is it bigger than the 1918 flu pandemic that killed as many as 50 million people? Is a can of Coke so toxic that it nearly instantaneously wipes out a large proportion of the world’s population and influences the course of human civilization? If so, maybe we should consider sending a case or two of A&W Root Beer to Iran and forget all of the bombs and missiles that our government is thinking of unleashing.
The debate is still on among researchers about the harmful effects sugar has on our “ignorant” population. As you might imagine Dr. Lustig has already made his mind up and it is a dire view that could fuel his push for “gentle ‘supply side’ control strategies” to limit the intake of sugar, including “taxation, distribution controls, age limits.” He and his cronies dream of tighter “licensing requirements on vending machines and snack bars.” They must muse of “zoning ordinances to control the number of fast-food outlets and convenience stores in low-income communities, and especially around schools.”
Under this regime, we will go from gun-free school zones to chocolate-free school zones and where it might be sold he wants to double the price of a soda by taxation. They seriously propose starting to card young people who try to buy a bottle of pop, with an age cutoff of 17. We used to think if you were old enough to vote at 18 you were also old enough to have a cocktail. In Lustig’s warped view of the world you would have to have parental consent to both join the military and consume a glass of chocolate milk.
I’ve always known that too much of anything isn’t good for you. That’s what mom always taught us, not from any research or data, just common sense. Moms around the world are like that. Mom settled the issues rather directly without the need for new taxes taxes, new zoning ordinances or the need to carry national ID cards. Heck, you don’t even have to show a card to vote!
I’d like to see government leave it up to one’s parents. As it turns out, research shows the power of engaged parenting found that if children ate dinner with their families, got about 10 hours of sleep per night, and watched two hours or less of TV on weeknights, they had a lower risk of obesity. Of course it wouldn’t hurt if they also engaged in a little physical activity… you know, PLAY.
But Dr. Lustig apparently wouldn’t trust parents or individuals to make sound choices on their own. It’s not about public health, it’s about personal responsibility. What you choose to eat and drink is your business and should not be considered the province of government to mandate eating behavior?
Lowry sees it this way, “If this all seems good for laughs, just wait ten years. Before it’s over, the offending food and beverage companies—the “sugar merchants” [the purveyors of death], as a journalist sympathetic to Lustig’s case puts it—could well be as beaten-down as the tobacco companies. One of Lustig’s co-authors refers to sugar as “the substance.” The article cites “the dependence-producing properties of sugar in humans.” The predicate is there for making Little Debbie, despite her wholesome red curls and cheery slogan (“Unwrap a Smile”), into the moral equivalent of a drug pusher.”
At the end of last year I bought a whole case of old fashioned incandescent light bulbs so I could still use the dimmers on my lights at home. Okay laugh, but I’m already making plans to stockpile chocolate, cookie dough and a case of Pepsi, just in case.