If a group of scientists from the San Francisco Bay Area have their way, sugary snacks could find themselves in the same regulatory vein as alcohol and cigarettes.
A new study from the medical school at the University of California at San Francisco says that the sugars found in processed foods and drinks are to blame for increasing number of cases of chronic disease and premature death.
Their findings appear in the latest edition of the journal Nature.
In their commentary, scientists Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis recommend that the use of sugar should be regulated, much like the standards in place already for alcohol and tobacco.
The suggestion that sugar should be regulated didn’t sit so well with some local residents.
"We are all adults you can take sugar if you want,” says one person. “You can smoke if you want you can have alcohol - it's a free country."
In this country, Americans consume more than 450 calories of added sugar every day, according to Nature.
It adds up quick: orange juice has six teaspoons of sugar. Sweetened cereal has five teaspoons of added sugar and granola has six.
Researchers link that overload of sweetness to the metabolic syndrome which causes obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high triglycerides.
The U.N. found tobacco, alcohol and diet are to blame for more people around the world dying from lifestyle diseases than infectious ones.
Tobacco and alcohol are regulated by government but added sugar is not. Researchers say that leaves one of the primary culprits behind the worldwide health crisis unchecked.
D.C.-based dietician Rebecca Scritchfield says it has come down moderation not regulation. And Robert Tramonte - owner of the Italian Store in Arlington - agreed.
"My customers want to get their pizzas on Friday nights and their cannoli on Sunday,” Tramonte says. "Nobody wants to be told what to eat."