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Playing the Sugar Name Game


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How Sweet it is
Playing the Sugar Name Game

Gerber Life Family Times Archive

FunTo adapt and modify a quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, "A sugar by any other name would taste as sweet." In today's world of fast food, incessant snacking, and seemingly endless supplies of highly processed foods, good nutrition has become even more of a responsibility on the part of the consumer. The road to healthy eating is littered with candy bar wrappers, soda and sport drink bottles, and fast food containers. With the addition of soda machines, fast food restaurants on campus, and vending machines, even the once nutritionally safe environment of our schools has quickly eroded.

Ultimately we each have to take responsibility for our own dietary choices if we wish to reverse the obesity epidemic that has swept across the nation in recent decades. One culprit in our nation's dietary decline has been the sweetening of America. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States sweetener market is the largest and most diverse in the world and sugar consumption has been rising at over 1.7% per year for the last decade. In fact consumption of all caloric sweeteners in the United States has risen from 127 pounds per capita in 1986 to 153 pounds in 1996—a 20% increase over 10 years.

According to the USDA's Food Pyramid guidelines some of the more popular foods in our daily diet contain most of the added sugars in American diets. They include:

  • Regular soft drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies
  • Fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch
  • Milk-based desserts and products, such as ice cream, sweetened yogurt, and sweetened milk
  • Grain products such as sweet rolls and cinnamon toast.

One way to reduce your consumption of sugar is to read food labels. However, you must remember—sugar is a crafty substance and has many aliases. Some of the names for added sugars that will appear on food labels include:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup

The American Diabetes Association states that one way to help recognize sugar in its various guises on ingredient labels is to look for their chemical names, which end in "-ose" (i.e., glucose, fructose, etc.)

FunAnd just how much sugar should your daily diet allow? The USDA recommends that the average person eat no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day. Seems like a large amount of sugar, doesn't it? The Centers for Science in the Public Interest collected sugar content information on popular foods from the manufacturers, the USDA, and their own analyses and the quantity of sugar in just a few of the items noted is eye-opening. A popular candy bar (2.1 ounce bar) contains 5-3/4 teaspoons of sugar or 58% of the daily value. An 8-ounce container of low fat fruit-flavored yogurt contains 7 teaspoons of sugar or 70% of your daily allowance. One 12-ounce cola contains 10-1/4 teaspoons of sugar or 103% of your daily allowance while a 12-ounce orange soda jumps to 13 teaspoons and 130% of your allowance.

Now, take a second and roughly calculate how many teaspoons of sugar you or your child had yesterday. Was it two sodas or three? Or was it a "monster size" (32 or 64 ounces of cola or 3 to 6 times the 12-ounce size mentioned previously) at the convenience store? A candy bar? A "healthy" container of yogurt?

Take the time to educate yourself on the role sugar plays in your daily diet and begin monitoring its use. With the proper knowledge, reasonable guidelines, and awareness combined with more natural and healthy snack options, you'll be well on the way to establishing a more nutritious and balanced lifestyle.

United States Department of Agriculture—
Center for Science in the Public Interest—
American Diabetes Association—

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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