An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Leave it up to the Europeans to be much more sensible when it comes to tackling a serious medical issue–in this case, obesity.

And statistically speaking, Europe isn’t even nearly as fat as the U.S. Which just proves the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (All puns intended.)

The fact is, some problems call for proactive measures. And the financial services firm Credit Suisse is proposing exactly that–by way of a sugar tax. It’s the best strategy to curb the out-of-control sugar consumption that’s killing this planet, they say.

This recommendation comes via a new published report entitled ‘Sugar: Consumption at a Crossroads.’ In it, Credit Suisse writes that “as with alcohol and tobacco, higher taxation on drinks is the best option to reduce sugar intake and help fund the fast growing healthcare costs associated with diabetes type II and obesity.”

I wonder if the authors also read this e-letter? Because I’ve been saying this for years.

As part of this report, researchers surveyed doctors from multiple countries about their attitudes toward sugar. And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most of them agree that sugar is addictive and causes diabetes. (But then I remembered that these are European doctors, not bought and sold by the pharmaceutical industry, like so many American doctors.)

In fact, 90 percent of the doctors interviewed said that excess sugar consumption was a driving force behind the modern diabetes epidemic. And 65 percent agreed that it was patently addictive.

As you might expect, the outrage is already pouring in. The Association of Chocolate, Biscuit, and Confectionary Industries is decrying the notion of “discriminatory” food taxes. They claim that there are no unhealthy foods, just unhealthy diets.

And yes, I realize that sounds like a joke. I mean, in what alternative universe are these people living? I imagine these are the sorts of things they have to tell themselves to make it through the day and still be able to look in the mirror at night.

Meanwhile, some countries have already taken action. Denmark, for example, imposes excise levies on foods like chocolate, ice cream, soft drinks, and other sweets.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Danes are a little tax happy. But have you ever been to Denmark? I have–and I didn’t see too many fat people, that’s for sure. So perhaps they’re onto something.

This new report notes that cases of type 2 diabetes are rising at a rate of 4 percent every year–while obesity rates are climbing by as much as 2 percent annually. Nearly 370 million people on this planet are now officially obese.

And you know what else? Almost as many people died from diabetes in 2012 as they did from diseases related to smoking. And yet, while we shun smokers–and tax them, heavily, I might add–we actively encourage sugar consumption.

Sure, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to six teaspoons a day for women and nine for men. But frankly, that’s just not good enough. In fact, it’s downright laughable.

We shouldn’t be condoning any sugar consumption at all. And you wonder why I hate these organizations. Being moderate in an excessive world will get you nowhere fast.

Case in point: The global average sugar consumption is 17 teaspoons a day. The U.S., meanwhile, consumes more than any nation at 40 teaspoons. (Go USA!) Added sugars account for 17 percent of the Standard American Diet–the majority coming from sweetened beverages.

If that isn’t sad, I don’t know what is.

Nieburg, Oliver. “Sugar tax ‘best option’ to limit escalating health problems, says Credit Suisse.” Food Navigator. 13 Sept. 2013.