One of the most global of battlegrounds is also the most local — the human body. Most developed and developing nations have immense political and economic stakes in keeping their subjects in good health. Although most people are accustomed to thinking of eating as part of their private lives, it is through the regulation of what its subjects are allowed to eat or not eat that the State exercises control on their bodies and minds. (And as with food, so with sex.) Unfortunately, none of the agents of such regulation and control is a disinterested party, and, as with most other networks of consumption, everything is connected with everything else and nobody exists outside the systems of power and profit. So, when the World Health Organization gets eager to warn a sweet-toothed world about how much sugar it may eat, and in what form, without getting unhealthily fat and ending up with rotting teeth, the concerned citizen is likely to get a little confused, if not downright indignant and suspicious. The last time the WHO declared such a limit, the sugar industry in the United States of America threatened to bring the WHO to its knees by demanding that the US Congress end its funding unless the WHO scraps its sugar guidelines. This time, too, after the WHO has threatened to lower the sugar limit even more, a similar chain of reactions against the WHO’s idea of healthiness has gone off, involving political establishments as well as the food industry’s global daddies.
The bewildering thing, for the lay sugar-eater, is that the tussle has, as usual, become one between the sugar and anti-sugar lobbies, both of which claim to have ‘scientific’ evidence provided by the medical-academic establishment, supporting their conflicting positions on the matter. If there is one thing that the ordinary, internet-surfing sugar-eater is amply aware of these days, it is the fact that even these evidence-generating scientific-academic establishments are far from being neutral parties in the international networks of feeding and regulation and control. This is, after all, a burgeoning nexus of buying and selling, where astronomical fortunes are at stake. So, be it the harmfulness of mobile phones for the brain, or sugar for the teeth and heart, whom should the hapless consumer listen to and believe, for there seems to be something in it for everybody?