NBC/WSJ Poll: Sugar More Harmful Than Marijuana

NBC/WSJ Poll: Sugar More Harmful Than Marijuana

On Wednesday, NBC/WSJ released its latest poll of the nation’s political environment. The poll found that Obama’s approval rating had dropped to 41%, the lowest of his presidency. Given recent political developments, that is noteworthy, but hardly surprising. The poll did have one surprising finding, however. Almost twice as many Americans believe sugar is more harmful to one’s health than marijuana.  

In a poll that otherwise covered political topics, NBC/WSJ asked respondents which substance was more harmful to one’s health: tobacco, alcohol, sugar or marijuana. Almost half, 49%, answered tobacco. Alcohol was named by about a quarter of those polled, 24%. Sugar was the main culprit of 15% of the poll, while just 8% considered marijuana the most harmful of the four.  

This result goes a long way to explain the increased support for marijuana decriminalization or legalization. Beyond that, it is interesting that given the choice of either tobacco, alcohol, sugar or marijuana, a non-insignificant number of people identified sugar as the most unhealthy. 

As a robust consumer of polls, I often try to guess why certain questions are asked. Each question has a certain “cost” associated with it. The number of questions polled is a traditional means of setting the price of a poll. So, the inclusion of a non-political, highly specific question caught my attention. 

So, I was very interested to learn that on March 5th, the day NBC/WSJ began their poll surveys, the World Health Organization released draft new guidelines on sugar consumption. The new proposal from WHO would recommend a reduction in daily sugar consumption. The proposed consumption would be lowered to 25 grams a day, i.e. about half a can of soda. 

It is quite interesting that NBC and WSJ had a sudden urge to test people’s attitude about sugar on the exact same day the WHO proposed new rules limiting sugar consumption. 

That is one of those coincidences that animates so much of the modern day media. 


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