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JAMA 100 Years Ago
July 18, 2001


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Assistant Editor

JAMA. 2001;286(3):278. doi:10.1001/jama.286.3.278-JJY10021-2-1

The present tendency of physiologists and authorities on dietetics to encourage the use of sugar as an aliment, has not failed to excite some controversy and adverse opinion. A recent article by Von Bunge is in point.1 This author, starting from the common observation that children who eat sugar appear anemic and have bad teeth, reasons that as sugar contains neither iron nor lime, its free consumption, by supplanting other aliments containing these essentials, is damaging and should be discouraged. He would advise therefore an increased tax on sugar. In noticing the views of Bunge, Professor Lépine, of Lyons, takes exactly the opposite view. He shows from Bunge's tables how little lime and iron is taken in our food, and hence the improbability of enough sugar being ingested to make up any appreciable difference. With the French, owing to the high price, sugar is used chiefly as a condiment and only about one-third as much per individual as in England. It would not appear that the English or Americans suffer especially from their excessive use of sugar, unless we can attribute their frequent need of dentists to this cause. It is probable, however, that they really are not very much worse off in this regard than other civilized people, and in other respects they certainly are not suffering physically from excess of sugar ingestion. Professor Lépine, as a hygienist, would prefer to see the consumption of this aliment tripled or quadrupled amongst his countrymen and has no fear that it will ever damagingly displace other essential food substances.

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