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The biggest toxin for children and families is hiding in plain sight

By Staff | Nov 30, 2018

Just this week the Washington Post editorial section highlighted two toxins for children that most are aware of, tobacco and alcohol. Here is my voice from the darkness of the current health status of children in response to both the Nov. 16 front-page article “FDA unveils broad anti-tobacco effort to reduce underage vaping, smoking,” and the Letter to Editor on Nov. 24 “The next epidemic the FDA should tackle: Underage drinking.”

As a physician in the most obese state in the country and now dealing with what used to be adult disease in children — type two diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea and various mental health disorders that travel with obesity — I find it discouraging that the leading driver of what is a global pandemic for the current and future generation is hiding in plain sight.

The first article justly critiques and makes a call to respond to “flavored nicotine products, often in fruity, sweet and creamy flavors, that appeal to kids.” Mr. Karlavage shares the alcohol industry’s similar tactics of sweet flavored alcohol drinks appealing to young drinkers. My plea is for us all to look at what we are feeding to children in the same vein as other addictive substances. In school breakfasts and lunches, which are based on U.S. Dietary Guidelines, children can take in over 200 grams of processed carbohydrates and sugar, not just in the form of the sweetened drinks, but also in the added sugars and sweeteners to pretty much everything on their plate: breakfast cereal, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, baked goods, dressings, gravies and even the fruit cups. And then they go home to more junk food and Mountain Dew.

Unbelievably yet legally, the number one product purchased with SNAP dollars is soda. When is the FDA and CDC going to take action on sugar as a toxin? The dose makes the toxin, and the evidence is staring right at us. Today, we are at toxic doses all over the world. We eliminated all sugar sweetened beverages at my small hospital, Jefferson Medical Center. It’s one small step (not to be cliche), but giant leaps are needed and the FDA and CDC most lead us in bold action.

The world knows now to throw out the lettuce in response to the CDC’s bold warning. We have been made aware of potential respiratory toxins with the thousands of “Toxic Rockwool” signs canvassing the county.

When will the authorities tell us to get rid of the edible toxins causing more death and disease than anything we have ever witnessed in human history? Until they do so, empower yourself, your family and your community to resist the status quo and create change.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine and the owner of Two River Treads in Ranson. To learn more about his health efforts in West Virginia, visit www.drmarksdesk.com/. He can also be reached at cucuzzellam@wvumedicine.org.