Sugaronline Editorial - Pass the doobie By Meghan Sapp
Published: 01/26/2018, 12:39:00 AM
A major US poll shows people think sugar is only slightly less dangerous than alcohol and more than twice as dangerous as marijuana.
One wonders what Americans must be smoking. Aside from their choice of president, the wisdom behind which becomes more dubious on a daily basis, apparently they believe sugar to be more harmful to the body than marijuana. It may sound like a joke, but be assured, it's far from the case.
Looking at the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of 900 people that was released this week, a question asked which substances they considered more harmful to the body. The four possibilities were marijuana, alcohol, tobacco and sugar. Yet when other news sources reported about the poll, like Yahoo UK, "substances" was swapped out for "drugs". The first three are legally regulated as drugs, so the digression could be forgiven, but sugar of course is not.
Putting sugar into a category as a drug, albeit colloquially or sloppy journalism in this case, in a fast-moving information-saturated world is a dangerous slippery slope. Sugar is regulated as a foodstuff, and while many countries are trying to tax it—allegedly to reduce obesity but more likely to fill their coffers—sugar has never been considered a drug.
The poll results showed that tobacco was considered to be the most dangerous "substance" of the four at 41% but sugar came in just slightly behind alcohol's 24% at 21%. Marijuana received just 9%.
This isn't the first time the poll has been conducted, and sugar's reputation has significantly eroded since then. When the last poll was held in 2014, tobacco and alcohol were still seen as more dangerous but those who thought sugar was the most dangerous was just 15%. Sugar's six-point increase on the danger scale between 2014 and 2018 came from tobacco that scored 49% in the last poll.
If anything, what this poll shows is that the sugar industry has failed to heed the warnings that the war on sugar exists and it is losing the battle. Without concerted, long-term action implemented in the short-term by industry, people's imaginations will only continue to run away from them when it comes to sugar and that will lead to decisions about what they buy. Sugar demand is only increasing 1% annually instead of 2%, so will the industry wait until that's a negative number before doing something proactive?
And yes, by the way, the poll shows the American people have a bad case of buyer's remorse when it comes to their leadership decisions but the world was already pretty aware of that.