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Children and Added Sugar: The Case for Restriction

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


It is increasingly clear that children's excessive consumption of products high in added (or extrinsic) sugar causes obesity and obesity‐related health problems like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. Less clear is how best to address this problem through public health policy. In contrast to policies that might conflict with adult's right to self‐determination — for example sugar taxes and soda bans — this article proposes that children's access to products high in added sugars should be restricted in the same way that children's access to tobacco products is restricted. The article first considers how the recommended policy will protect a child's right to an open future while not violating parental rights. The article then explores how the implementation of the recommended policy can help transform the social meaning of sugar and thereby curb the parental supply of added sugar to children — a central cause of obesity. The article also addresses several potential objections.