The world is taking one more small step toward framing sugar as a drug — or at the very least, something to be feared.
According to an article in Politico New York, a New York City Councilwoman is planning to introduce a bill that, “requires the city’s health department to create a poster detailing the ‘risks of excessive sugar and other carbohydrate intake for diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals.’” And, restaurants would then have to display the poster, which warns them of the dangers of sugar before they order dessert.
It’s not quite adding a little sugar skull and crossbones next to menu items that the city believes contain too much sugar, but it’s definitely a step in that direction.
And it will definitely give patrons the impression that sugar is something to feared in the same way that second-hand smoke should be feared. It’s also opening up the door for mandatory sugar warnings on menus.
Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association took a strong stand on the issue.
"New York City has changed nanny state from a noun to a verb," Christin Fernandez told Politico New York. "This is 'nanny stating' at its very worst. The City has taken it upon itself to endlessly target the restaurant and foodservice industry with mandates that offer no solution to underlying health problems. This is just another attempt to showcase misleading information that attempts to scare people about products that are perfectly safe in moderation and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle. A poster on a wall is no way to improve public health."
He’s not wrong. Sugar is perfectly safe in moderation. The posters don’t do anything to target the underlying issues of public health. And the whole effort won’t do much to solve diabetes.
But honestly, I’m not 100 percent opposed to it. It’s better than say, making it a law that people have to be over 18 to eat sugar. Or even requiring that restaurants only use x amount of sugar in each item on the menu.
This is, in theory, just information. And information is what the candy industry should be in favor of. Because it’s information that allows people to make their own choices, without interference from the government.
But it is worrisome to see sugar treated this way. City health posters have a certain quality about them that can make things seem scary. Putting up these types of signs won’t help sugar’s image problems.
And while this kind of thing doesn’t directly impact candy companies, anything warning people about sugar is going to have an effect on the confectionery industry.
So yes, sugar should be enjoyed in moderation. And when people eat out, they should be able to make informed choices about what they’re eating. But posters warning of the dangers of sugar are a slippery slope and the industry needs to keep an eye on it.