Is Sugar the New Tobacco? How to Regulate Toxic Foods

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Atwell, Barbara L.
sugar; refined foods; diet; health; Food and Drug Law; Health Law and Policy; Law
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article description
This article explores the health risks associated with added sugar. It then examines how, if at all, sugar should be regulated, by considering tobacco regulation as a possible model. Part I identifies the health risks of sugar consumption. Part II examines the reasons why sugar is added to so much of our food supply. Part III provides an overview of tobacco regulation, including educational initiatives, warning labels, advertising restrictions, age limitations, and taxes. Finally, Part IV provides a framework for sugar regulation, suggesting that most of the foregoing laws designed to discourage tobacco use should, with the exception of age restrictions and with appropriate modifications, be applied to products with large quantities of added sugar. Part IV also suggests regulatory changes within the FDA to remove sugar's classification as a substance that is “generally recognized as safe (GRAS).In addition to looking solely at sugar, Part IV also takes a broader look at how food policy can shift to improve the overall food supply in ways that enhance consumer choice, and proposes the appointment of an independent National Director of Food, who would have sufficient authority to help neutralize the impact that the food lobby has on food supply.