The sugar industry is very bad for you. But they are bad for you in the quietest way possible. We never hear about them in the news, and yet they are a powerful lobbying force with the political clout to protect and support their industry with our taxpayer dollars. Last year, we learned about sugar is already subsidized here in the US and when sugar prices get too crazy the industry can also expect a bailout. We also learned that tariffs on imported sugar are protecting a handful of jobs while candy-makers are shipping two handfuls of jobs across borders to take advantage of cheap sugar prices. Remember, if there were no tariffs, we could buy the cheap sugar too and save those jobs.

However there is yet a third way in which the sugar industry may be bad for us. When they head to Washington with their checkbooks it isn’t just to secure sugar at the right price or protect a few south Florida jobs. It’s also to keep Congress from regulating the consumption of sugar. Americans consume way more sugar than we’re supposed to. Depending on whom you ask we could be eating anywhere from 1.5x to 3x as much sugar as we’re supposed to.

per capital consumption of sugar

No wonder we’re fat. Twenty years ago we were all trying to cut fat out of our diets. Nowadays we’re learning that sugar may be the enemy. Common sense would say a balanced diet is the way to go but common sense is a rare commodity. The sugar industry is not so pleased with this new idea that sugar is the enemy. And since the growers have plenty of cash, lobbying is just a cost of doing business. Unlike the other cases, it’s not just growers and refiners that are lobbying for no regulation of sugar consumption, the candy and soda producers are in on this game too.

All this leads us to consuming more sugar. Extra sugar accounts for about 13% of our daily diet. Cut that out and the country saves a lot of money on healthcare costs. This isn’t to say that regulation of sugar consumption is the answer. In some cases, people simply don’t understand how much sugar they’re eating and drinking. This could be resolved through better nutrition labels. But another solution (which will be fought by the industry) is some kind of tax on sugar consumption. Not unlike alcohol or tobacco. We’re likely a ways away from that. And everytime such an idea comes up, an already government supported industry will send money to Washington to keep sugar in our guts.

Read: How the sugar lobby helps perpetuate that sweet tooth of yours (Washington Post)

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categories: business, economics, government