I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Entries in sugar (1)

Tuesday
Feb072012

Sugar Shakeup: Should Sugar Be A Controlled Substance?

Because this is a blog about family health, occasionally I’ll post about topics besides sleep. As a journalist I’ve written about family nutrition for a number of publications, and I’m always searching for ways to keep my brood well-fed and healthy. With a cookie-loving toddler and a highly picky 5-year-old, that can be quite a challenge.

When my first daughter started eating solid food, it seemed like we entered the world of sugar. And I got a new role: Chief of the Sugar Police. Cookies at the grocery store, lollipops at the dry cleaners, candy machines lining the entrances of every store and restaurant—it seemed like sugar was constantly on offer, and believe me, she noticed. Every day, I’d keep a mental tally of the healthy foods she’d eaten to determine whether she could have the treat she wanted. I said no more than I said yes. But I still said yes more than I wanted.

So I was interested to see the recent news that scientists are recommending societal control of sugar. Researchers would like to see sugar regulated like tobacco and alcohol, to raise public awareness of the risks of over-consumption, and to ease the public burden of obesity and chronic illness.

I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand, I believe that sugar is addictive and that our kids eat far too much of it. Tighter regulations on sugar might make people think twice about soda, candy, and other empty calories that contribute to the exploding diabetes epidemic. Here are some scary stats: According to 2011 US government reports, 35 percent of adults 20 and older and half of adults 65 and over have prediabetes.

On the other hand, I think the burden to make healthy, informed choices rests with the consumer, not with the government. More education, less access to sugary foods in school lunches and vending machines, and a greater emphasis on low-sugar snack choices for kids would be good first steps.

For more information on breaking your family’s sugar habit, see my article Beat the Sweets in Carolina Parent magazine. It features some tips from TODAY show nutritionist Joy Bauer and other experts on slowing shutting off the sugar tap in your home.

What do you think? Should sugar become a controlled substance?