If Sugar is Addictive… What Does it Mean for the Law?

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 41 (s1):46-49 (2013)
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Sugar consumption has long been linked with a host of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. To reduce Americans’ intake, many have called for taxing sugary products or limiting access in certain environments like schools and workplaces. These sometimes controversial calls for new public policy to curb consumption may soon be eclipsed by newly emerging links between sugar and addiction.Attaching the label “addictive” to a substance like sugar, which is necessary for human life, challenges widely held beliefs about addiction. But the extraordinary increase in sugar consumption during the past century, with related tripling of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes, means our common understandings may be outdated.Part I of this paper will define “addiction” — especially as it relates to what was once a naturally occurring food nutrient and now is a highly concentrated food additive — and present evidence of the addictive potential of sugar.



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