Sugar As Dangerous As Tobacco, Liverpool Professor Says


Professor Simon Capewell, from the University of Liverpool Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, is urging for reduced amounts of added sugar in food and soft drinks to fight obesity.

Capewell is part of the campaign, 'Action on Sugar' that aims to increase awareness about the possible side-effects of refined sugar on health. The campaign encourages public to read labels on food products and avoid items with high levels of hidden sugar.

"Sugar is the new tobacco. Everywhere, sugary drinks and junk foods are now pressed on unsuspecting parents and children by a cynical industry focused on profit not health," Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, said in a statement. "The obesity epidemic is already generating a huge burden of disease and death."

Sugar is a major cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. These health conditions can be 'halted or reversed' within five years if the food industry decreases the amount of hidden sugar in their items. Obesity and diabetes lead to dangerous health conditions if left unchecked.

In the United States, the cost of diabetes increased by more than 40 percent from $174 billion to $245 billion between 2007 and 2012, while obesity costs 20.6 percent of U.S. health care expenditures, Reuters reports.

Andrew Lansley, former health secretary, said that comparing sugar and tobacco is inappropriate. The Commons leader stated that the sugar level should be reduced gradually rather than drastically; otherwise food industry will get affected. They have already cut amounts of salt in food from 40 percent to 20 percent in most supermarket products as a result of a similar campaign.

"You can't simply slash the sugar in food otherwise people simply won't accept it. I think we have to understand that sugar is an essential component of food, it's just that sugar in excess in an inappropriate and unhelpful diet," Lansley said,Liverpool echo reports.

Capewell's campaign is calling the food and beverage industry and the Department of Health to implement a reformulation program that would reduce the level of added sugar by 20 or 30 percent over a three to five years period to combat obesity and related chronic diseases.

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