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The Most Dangerous Drug of Our Time?

  1. Basoodler
    Soft drinks should carry tobacco-style warnings that sugar is highly addictive and dangerous, a senior Dutch health official has warned.

    Paul van der Velpen, the head of Amsterdam's health service, the Dutch capital city where the sale of cannabis is legalised, wants to see sugar tightly regulated.

    "Just like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is actually a drug. There is an important role for government. The use of sugar should be discouraged. And users should be made aware of the dangers," he wrote on an official public health write.

    "This may seem exaggerated and far-fetched, but sugar is the most dangerous drug of the times and can still be easily acquired everywhere."

    Mr Van der Velpen cites research claiming that sugar, unlike fat or other foods, interferes with the body's appetite creating an insatiable desire to carry on eating, an effect he accuses the food industry of using to increase consumption of their products.

    "Sugar upsets that mechanism. Whoever uses sugar wants more and more, even when they are no longer hungry. Give someone eggs and he'll stop eating at any given time. Give him cookies and he eats on even though his stomach is painful," he argued.

    "Sugar is actually a form of addiction. It's just as hard to get rid of the urge for sweet foods as of smoking. Thereby diets only work temporarily. Addiction therapy is better."

    The senior health official wants to see sugar taxes and legal limits set on the amount that can be added to processed food.

    He also wants cigarette-style warnings on sweets and soft drinks telling consumers that "sugar is addictive and bad for the health".

    "Health insurers should have to finance addiction therapy for their obese clients. Schools would no longer be allowed to sell sweets and soft drinks. Producers of sports drinks that are bursting with sugar should be sued over misleading advertising and so on," he said.

    The number of obese people in the Netherlands has doubled over the last two decades meaning that more than half of Dutch adults and one in seven children are overweight in a country famed for its deep fried croquettes.



  1. mersann
    While I consider these ideas of putting warnings onto all kinds of sweets exaggerated, there is one crucial point that this person didn't mention so far, but with regard to which he may have a further point, and that's some kind of a more psychological effect. I don't know how to describe this, but among people who I know it is known as a "sugar flash" (or a corresponding German translation). If I eat enough sugar, I'll get totally hyperactive and in a way, it is quite euphoric, and while I sometimes achieve this in combination with caffeine (which also regularly leads to panic attacks in my case), I can also get there by just eating really sugary things without the help of any other drug.

    In fact, my somewhat odd biochemistry would make sugar more euphoric than quite a number of other drugs, and I'm not quite sure why I should say that sugar doesn't count as a recreational drug when it is certainly more recreational to me than some of the other substances I have tried.
  2. Basoodler
    (A slippery slope, warning on warnings)

    The thing about warnings is you can never have enough, but you sure as hell can have too many.

    If everything you buy has a warning, chances are their commonality will lead to complacencey.

    People can't (wont ) digest large amounts of information at one time and retain it. That is what I call the "G. W. BUSH" effect.

    He (sort of) was elected president twice by limiting the information he communicated. Hell he perfected the simplistic republican stump vocabulary of using catch phrases that are simple in form, and impactful.. without saying much (terror-not clearly defined, evil do-ers, axis of evil - with no indication of a plan to correct it.., obamacare- no alternative, mitt romney's tax cuts- which taxes? What entitlements are cut? No plan. Needed when using this tactic..and nothing to think about)

    Those silly democrats didn't stand a chance with their "platform" or complex "plans" or lofty "goals"

    Most people will block all warnings out just to avoid thinking about all of them!

    also how does one tell an imporntant warning from the rest?

    lol you probably seems the size of the warnings on packaging increase in size

    ..and since everyone values their own personal warning over other warnings.chances are you will run into competitive warning design.. where each product has to have a bigger and better
    Warning than the last guy..eventually a can of sardines will be 3 meters tall just to display a proper warning..

    (End slippery slope)

    Anyway I do think that there is danger in having too many warnings
  3. Crystal_Queen
    Sugar is not directly psychoactive...calling it a drug is already a big stretch, the most dangerous is just silly.

    I believe that certain "flavors" interact with "taste receptors" in the mouth.
    the brain rewards you for eating food that tastes good.
    the same way it does for smelling good perfume.
    watching porn.
    listening to music.
  4. babalooj
    I agree with you, Crystal Queen, but i would imagine sugar to have a more powerful impact, because it is connected with eating, a function vital to our survival and so more directly connected with that part of the brain where rewarding, or euphoric feelings are created (i do not remember at the moment, the name)
  5. AlteredEnthusiasm
    Crystal Queen has it right, sugar is not a drug. However, it does have mild psychoactive effects that are really our bodies reaction to it and not a direct effect of sugar itself. Sugar can cause a release of dopamine (so I suppose that's where the claims of addiction come from) because out bodies reward us for consuming it. We need sugars for many bodily processes and it provides us with short term energy, thus our body has adapted to reward us for its consumption much as it rewards us for other things necessary for survival (reproduction, eating food, replenishing fluids). Our taste buds have even adapted to reflect this (sugars taste good and things that are "naturally toxins", like many drugs and basic chemicals especially those containing a nitrogen group, have a bitter and generally less tolerated taste).

    Warnings on everything are definitely a slippery slope and as a big opponent of "nanny state" tactics I am generally against them. Education is key and instead of babying society with strict regulations and scare-tactic warnings we should give the people the information they need to make the decision that they have determined is best for them or at least is what they want after analyzing the dangers of their choice.

    Interesting article though, should definitely get some good discussion going!
  6. rawbeer
    I hesitate to call sugar a drug - sugar is vital to our survival. We need it. We can live without alcohol, or cocaine or cannabis. But not without sugar.

    However the problem with sugar in the modern world is directly comparable to the problem with cocaine - it is in a sense too pure. Coca leaf was in use for millennia with no ill effects to accompany it before it was purified. But when pure cocaine became an item of commerce it took only a few decades for its dangers to become apparent. The same applies to alcohol albeit to a lesser extent. Killing yourself with alcohol is very difficult with naturally fermented drinks like beer and wine. Most people would vomit or get too full long before reaching a lethal dose but when distillation was discovered and alcohol could be purified to greater concentrations alcohol OD's became quite common, as they continue to be.

    Of course having these purified substances serves a purpose - cocaine is still a valuable anaesthetic, alcohol a wonderful cleaner and solvent, purified sugar a valuable cooking ingredient. But this is the ever-inherent danger of technology - it always challenges humanity's ability to keep a grip on it as it grows more and more powerful.

    I do think we need to rethink sugar as a society - I think we need to rethink technology as a society! We need to be a more cautious species and not push blindly into the future without thought to the consequences. We have a pretty awful record when it comes to abusing technology and overdoing it. So in a sense I can see the merit in sugar warnings. It does disturb me when I see people giving kids candy and the kids bounce around like lil' crackheads, and it's so acceptable. Just like when someone basically forces you to have a drink at a party. But Basoodler makes an excellent point about people just becoming numb to this stuff.

    As always the solution is not fear, or bullying or rules, it is education. But then every problem on earth could be solved by education. Sometimes I wonder if it's even worth trying, because we create problems faster than we solve them. By the time the sugar crisis gets solved we'll be ass deep in some other mess we created by blindly following the wild, bucking mad bull of technology down whatever tragic course it is foolishly stumbling. And then we can just add it to the backlog of centuries-old problems we're still going to get around to solving one of these days, like alcohol and tobacco and firearms and cars and coal and epidemic disease and insanity and overpopulation and overuse of resources and the pitfalls of plant and animal domestication and racism and slavery, and the rest too. We're just waiting for the right technology to come along and solve those problems...
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