Could sugar be toxic for your health?

By: Ian Hest

New information on the effects that sugar can have on your health. We've all heard that processed foods and sugary drinks aren't the best for us, but could they have health dangers as tobacco or alcohol?

Some scientists say yes. A new report says that as a nation, we've become too dependent on sugars, especially in children…and we need to drastically cut our consumption, or face sickening consequences.

“The reason why this is a problem is because fructose is a poison,” Dr. Robert Lustig of UC San Francisco said.

A poison. That's the term Dr. Robert Lustig, at the University of California in San Francisco used to describe sugar…in all forms. It's part of a UCSF study released in February citing that any sugar, including corn syrup, could be causing obesity, heart disease, and even possibly forms of cancer.

The study says our bodies shouldn't take in more than 150 calories of sugar a day…that's less than one can of pop. And for many that might be easier said than done.

“I try to follow general health advice. I probably still drink the occasional sugary drink but I try not to drink like 5 a day,” Joshua Brown-Kramer said.

“It's my choice to consume this or not and I will drink one a day or less,” Heidi Kellerman said.

Debate has raged for years asking if high fructose corn syrup, a lot of which comes from right here in Nebraska, is worse for you than pure sugar. But the Nebraska Corn Growers Association says science has proven they're the same and Lustig feels similarly.

“It is the same breakdown of fructose and the same simple sugars. It's just a different packaging of it,” Scott Merritt of the NE Corn Growers Association said.

“This is true. High fructose corn syrup and fructose are exactly the same thing. They're both equally bad. They're both dangerous,” Dr. Lustig said.

The report also detailed that sugar can be more addictive than many drugs! And have similar side-effects on the brain. It cites new soft drinks on the market that have real sugar instead of corn syrup and showed its effects were equally bad. So the next time you add that sweetener to your morning coffee, you may want to think twice.

“Is the American consumer going to want to have less sugar? Or less processed food? That's a decision for the American consumer to make,” Merritt said.

We spoke with some health professionals at UNL. They told us the reason this is now a big problem is that sweets used to be seen as a treat…and now it's a dangerous part of our everyday routine.