>>> in health news tonight, prominent researchers are slamming sugar saying it's time this country treated foods with added sugar the same way we treat things like alcohol and tobacco and regulate them. nbc news chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman here with us tonight. this is a provocative topic.
>> reporter: it is a very provocative topic. not just talking about the glass of orange juice or occasional cupcake that is a treat. scientists are sounding the alarm. that is the amount of sugar in our diets that's literally killing us. stephanie mccabe tries her best to limit the amount of sugar her children eat, but knows the occasional treat is part of childhood.
>> my kids eat well for dinner and lunch and get a good breakfast and they play.
>> reporter: our sugar consumption crept up on all of us. the amount of sugar we eat tripled. today the average american consumes 22 teaspoons a day, triple what we need. 75 pounds of sugar a year for every man, woman and child in the united states. now an article sparked a magazinesal debate. is sugar toxic and should it be taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.
>> sugar promotes the same phenomena in the brain addictive substances do.
>> reporter: he believes sugar is to blame for high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia and even cancer. not everyone agrees. the sugar association takes issue calling the article irresponsible, saying we are confident the american people are perfectly capable of choosing what foods to eat.
>> we need more personal responsibility and giving people the honest truth as opposed to this sort of exaggerated truth like calling sugar toxic does not actually get us to a healthier society.
>> reporter: personal responsibility can be a challenge when sugar is in almost everything we eat. it's not just soda and juice, but packaged foods, ketchup, even canned vegetables, which is exactly why sugar is in the crosshairs today. if you think you can substitute those sugary foods with diet drinks and diet sugars, there is now sobering proof they are sweeter than that old-fashioned sugar. they are refiguring the brain and that makes the human body crave sugar even more. we tricked ourself out of the sugar we knew when we were kids. everything is too sweet. it's a big fight.
>> doc, thanks very much for