There is an extremely high rates of added sugar overconsumption in the American public. It causes obesity which is at the root of silent epidemics such as type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Laura Schmidt, PhD, Professor of Health Policy at UCSF, argues that this is not an individual problem but rather it is caused by what is going on in our environment, particularly hyper-processed foods that seem to be everywhere.
Tackling the obesity epidemic requires a prevention approach that de-saturates the food environment. Ways to do that come from studying our experience with tobacco: reducing the availability of harmful substances reduces consumption, thereby reducing harms to health.
Americans consume an average of 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, more than double the recommendation, and the main source is sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks. Schmidt talks about the Healthy Beverage Initiative launched at UCSF in 2015 which makes it easy to purchase healthy beverages while opting out of promoting sugar-sweetened ones. She describes it as a win-win for employee health and employer spending.
Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, is a Professor of Health Policy in the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. She holds a joint appointment in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine. Schmidt is also Co-Director of the Community Engagement and Health Policy Program for UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. She received her PhD training in sociology at UC Berkeley and while there, completed doctoral coursework in public health, and also holds a masters degree in clinical social work.