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Should there be a tax on sugar?
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Sugar is not a substance the body requires to function

The body only really requires glucose to function properly. Glucose helps create insulin. It's a monosaccharide and one of the most simple sugars found in almost everything a person consumes. Sucrose, table sugar, on the other hand, is a disaccharide found in most sweets and not required to function.

The Argument

For many, people put sugar into a similar category as table salt, but that’s not quite right. They're great for cooking and baking, but there's one major difference between salt and sugar. While both are consumed in rather large quantities its only salt that’s required for the human body to function properly.[1] The reason for this is that humans consume glucose from carbohydrates; the bodies preferred form of sugar. Glucose is a monosaccharide; this means it’s sugar in it’s simplest form, and the body doesn’t need to break it down for use, and it’s absorbed directly into the bloodstream.[2] With other sugars like sucrose, a disaccharide, that means the body has to go through the extra effort to break it down. Sucrose is also metabolized differently from glucose. The body breaks it down into glucose and fructose. Fructose is another type of monosaccharide, but unlike glucose, it doesn’t immediately impact sugar levels. It can also negatively affect the liver and have long term adverse effects. Sugar is unhealthy when consumed in large quantities and can cause various health problems over time.[3] It is associated with growing obesity levels, as well as certain health conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes. Taxing sugar is a smart option because even a small tax will generate a high amount of revenue. Seeing as it's not vital for survival, it might also allow for people to turn to other, healthier options. Sugar is not like water or salt where humans need it to survive; it's an indulgence.

Counter arguments

While the body doesn't need sugar to function, it also doesn't reject sugar like other substances. Humans have always consumed foods that are more pleasurable than nutritious. Sugar is an example of this type of food. Much like chocolate, consuming sugar releases endorphins which makes people feel happy, which can then form a craving or habit.[4] As an ingredient, it's extremely versatile, not just having a place in desserts but also used in many different cuisines. For example, sugar is a common ingredient many regional cuisines, such as BBQ and even some Indian curry dishes, such as vindaloo. Sugar enhances flavors, and while sugar can effect someone's health, a person diet is not entirely made up of sugary substances. While taxing sugar would generate a large amount of money, it's unfair to tax it when it's considered a commodity. Unlike a sales tax which can charge food items cooked and made by a restaurant, sugar is a raw material that’s transformed into something else. To tax it when it’s in this form would influence prices in a cascade effect. Prices on everything that contains sugar will increase, not just sugar.



[P1] The body only needs glucose, not sucrose (which is most if not all refined sugar) [P2] Sugar is unhealthy for the body and can cause health problems when consumed in large quantities

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Thursday, 12 Nov 2020 at 14:49 UTC

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