Since almost the beginning of our republic, the government has attempted to protect domestic sugar growers by imposing high tariffs on imported sugar. At the same time, the government subsidizes sugar growers. As a result, Americans have long paid higher-than-market rates for sugar.
Because sugar’s so expensive, many manufactures have turned to high-fructose corn syrup. It’s in almost everything, from soft drinks to jellies and baked goods. In 2001, Americans ate 62.6 pounds per person of the sweetener, up from none in 1966.
Of course, that doesn’t prove that high-fructose corn syrup causes obesity, but scientists do know it’s digested much differently than sugar. It “appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation,” Peter Havel, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis told The Washington Post. That may be one reason that a 2000 University of Minnesota study led by J.P Bantle concluded, “diets high in added fructose may be undesirable, particularly for men.”
Again, high-fructose corn syrup’s popular because it’s cheaper than sugar, and it’s cheaper than sugar because the government props up the price of sugar. Let’s at least lift the tariffs and end the sugar subsidies, and see which product consumers prefer in an open market.
If Indiana wants to find a better use for its Kids First Trust Fund, it could invest the money in launching a state-wide school exercise program. Virtually everyone, including the Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences and the WHO agree our children need about an hour a day of moderate physical activity, and they aren’t getting that now.
Parents need to make sure their children get more exercise and better food. The government can do a little bit to help them.
Instead, governments and doctors are trying to frighten us by throwing money at and focusing attention on less important problems. In the long run, that’s the bigger threat to our children.