Nobody is overly sweet on sugar these days, but a bunch of scientists out West have taken concerns about Nature’s sweetener to an extreme.

In a paper published recently, a team of scientists in California argued that sugar is so addictive it should be heavily taxed and regulated, like alcohol and drugs. They even want to set a legal age for buying sugar.

That’s excessive.

That said, there’s no denying we have a national problem with obesity, and sugar is heavily to blame. Americans eat and drink roughly 22 teaspoons of sugar every day, three times as much as they did 30 years ago. Much of that sugar is hidden inside processed food and even bread and cereal.

Obesity contributes to a wide range of health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 112,000 deaths in the United States are associated each year with obesity, and the total medical costs came to $147 billion in 2008.

How bad is it? Over two decades, obesity rates have doubled in adults, and the percentage of adolescents who are above their normal weight has tripled. The needle on the nation’s bathroom scale is pointing in a scary direction.

But let’s be sensible. Let’s eat more healthfully and get more exercise. And let’s not listen to scientists who want a new Prohibition, this time for sugar.

— Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 7

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