The earth-shattering results of a nine-year-old aspiring scientist from New Jersey revealed the problem: young children are eating far too much added sugar. What my fourth-grade science project attempted to explain is now made clear in my new report as an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Hooked for Life: How Weak Policies on Added Sugars Are Putting a Generation of Children at Risk. I found that young children’s excess sugar consumption is contributing to lifelong preferences for sugar-rich foods and increased risk of several chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The report reveals that the companies that make many of these foods are profiting off of children’s inherent attraction to sweet foods and beverages, and they have actively lobbied against and succeeded in blocking science-based policies that would help curb sugar consumption.
The chemicals that we’re exposed to in our daily lives are often approved by the government under the assumption that they’re safe in small doses, even over a long period of time. For years, regulators relied on the old adage “the dose makes the poison” to try to explain their logic. While that might have appeared true for certain chemicals for many years, we now live in a world where exposure to a large variety of chemicals is unavoidable and it’s finally becoming clear that we can’t evaluate these chemicals in isolation.