Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: August 26, 2009 Archive

Your Share of Sugar

Posted at 5:35 AM on August 26, 2009 by Dale Connelly (17 Comments)

The American Heart Association has issued some new guidelines for sugar intake, which is a particularly cruel step to take during the week that marks the opening of the Minnesota State Fair. I don't know if the recommendations make sense, but they do prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Heart Association people really do care about your health and also that they are absolutely no fun to be around.

The proposal is that most women limit their processed sugar intake to 6 teaspoons a day, and most men keep it at or below 9 teaspoons. This sounds manageable. After all, who eats sugar by the teaspoon? But once you look at sugar in the real world, the problem becomes obvious. A typical 12 ounce can of pop contains approximately 8 teaspoons of sugar.

So she suddenly is not allowed to finish her drink because it would put her one teaspoon over her budget. Meanwhile, he gets to guzzle down an entire Mountain Dew and still has one wild teaspoon left over for a night on the town. He can splurge - spending it frivolously on any selfish indulgence he desires, like, say, a thimble sized chunk of a Twinkie.

The inequality of this standard is provocative and it may upend the delicate balance of power inside some relationships. How can mature people observe these limits with the least possible rancor?

I suggest upsizing and sharing.

Rather than dealing with the dangerous political puzzle posed by the presence of two 12 ounce cans, a typical pop drinking couple could co-operate on a 20 ounce bottle, which has 13 teaspoons of sugar inside.

Think about it. His budget is 9 teaspoons and hers is 6 for a total of 15, so if they allocate the contents proportionately, they'll both finish with one teaspoon of sugar left over and they could still go to the fair and share a single mini-donut, bringing the rest of the bag home for the dog, who does not care what the American Heart Association suggests regarding healthy amounts of sugar.

And it's simple to figure out - they simply hand the bottle back and forth, alternating sips, except every other time he gets the bottle he DOUBLE sips. Easy, see?

OK, it wasn't that so easy. But my other idea is a complicated system of sugar allowances and buy-backs that lets individuals who are consistently below their sugar limits to sell virtual teaspoons to other people who want to pay for the privilege of going over budget. I know it sounds fussy and intricate, but would keep that State Fair Fudge Puppy within the realm of possibility, although you'd have to get a loan to be able to afford it.

In a dietary sugar cap-and-trade world, would you be a buyer or a seller?

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