Choose Your Poison
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may soon take steps that would require food manufacturers to include information about added sugars in their products. Predictably, the food industry is pushing back. Evidently, they fear a better-informed public. That’s understandable, given rapidly mounting evidence that added sugars in the diet are good for making you crave more sugar, but bad for just about everything else. Including your waistline, and your metabolic and cardiovascular health.
Of course, I’ve been saying for years that sugar is toxic. Simple sugars, which are simple carbohydrates, cause erratic, dramatic spikes in both blood sugar and insulin levels. They also, evidently, affect the complex series of feedback loops that serve as the “satiety” circuit in the brain. In essence, this system tells you when you’ve eaten enough, or when you need to eat again. Simple carbs like sugar simply make you hungrier, faster.
The FDA’s proposed food-labeling changes are designed to make it simpler for consumers to identify sugars that have been added to products. Sugars occur naturally in many foods. What we’re talking about is the roughly 80% of foods that also contain manufacturer-added sugars. Foods that you might never suspect may be laden with sugar. Examples include soups and condiments.
A can of Campbell’s tomato soup is a good example. Current labeling states that a single serving contains 14 grams of sugar. But most people don’t realize that a serving is just one half-cup. Nor do most relate well to metric values, so the average person is unlikely to read the current label and realize that a single real-life serving (one cup) contains a whopping seven teaspoons of added sugar. Seven teaspoons! Can you imaging drinking tea sweetened with seven teaspoons of sugar? It would be like drinking syrup.
And that, in a nutshell, is why the FDA is considering these adjustments to labeling requirements. It’s also why Big Food is fighting back. Clearly, they’re afraid for their bottom lines should the public ever catch on to just how much toxic sugar they’ve been lacing their products with all along.
Frankly, I think this is a small step in the right direction for beleaguered consumers struggling to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. Manufacturers fear the public will “misunderstand” this additional information. But I say no one should ever fear accurate information, which can be used to make informed decisions—or ignored—as one chooses. The new labeling will simply allow consumers to see, at a glance, what proportion of an item’s sugar content is natural, and which portion has been added.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. Guidance Regulation. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm