Category Archives: sugar

Surprisingly, sugar consumption may be worse for blood pressure than salt

sugar (1)It really seems that every day we get more news about the effects of sugar and salt consumption on our health. We know that there’s too much of both in the processed foods flooding our grocery stores as well as the foods being served in fast food restaurants everywhere. We consume far too much sugar and salt, far too often. We’re aware that too much salt is bad for blood pressure. But did we ever think that sugar may be having the same effect?

Sugar is worse than salt for blood pressure and health, according to a new study published on Thursday.

Two researchers, James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD, of St. Luke’s Mid America Hearth Institute and Sean C. Lucan, MD, MPH, of Montefiore Medical Center, examined how dietary efforts to control high blood pressure have focused on limiting sodium. However, their research found added sugar in processed foods is a large contributor to hypertension than added salt.

More so, the study published in BMJ journal Open Heart argued that the guideline to limit salt intake is misguided and not based on evidence.

Even though the negative effect of salt is not proven, health experts still believe the consumption of salt and sugar should be regulated to avoid poor health.

The researchers studied humans and animals to see how sugar is worse than salt for blood pressure, hypertension, and heart disease.

DiNicolantonio and Lucan wrote, “Added sugars probably matter more than dietary sodium for hypertension, and fructose in particular may uniquely increase cardiovascular risk by inciting metabolic dysfunction and increasing blood pressure variability, myocardial oxygen demand, heart rate, and inflammation.”
The most recent version of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology lifestyle guidelines suggested no more than 2,400 mg of sodium a day to benefit blood pressure.

Though the authors agree salt intake from processed foods should be reduced, they also propose “that the benefits of such recommendations might have less to do with sodium – minimally related to blood pressure and perhaps even inversely related to cardiovascular risk – and more to do with highly-refined carbohydrates.”

After feeding sucrose to rats, the results showed that it stimulated the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This led to increased heart rate, renin secretion, renal sodium retention, and vascular resistance. All of these effects raised blood pressure.

The authors suggest “reducing consumption of added sugars by limiting processed foods containing them.”

FoodFacts.com feels like this is especially bad news for soda consumers — and sugary beverage consumers in general. There are people who drink multiple cans of soda every day. And there are folks that aren’t trying to gage the amount of added sugars in their diets at all. We all need to limit processed foods — if not make an earnest attempt to eliminate them from our diets completely. That is the only way we can be confident that we can avoid the risks of excessive sugar consumption. Changing our diets can prove to improve our health and lengthen our lives!

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/health-wellness/sugar-worse-salt-blood-pressure-01096633#x3IOwiTA4g4G7Egv.99

Dads consuming too much sugar may increase the risk of obesity in their children

High SugarMost research regarding childhood obesity as it relates to parents and pregnancy points to the dietary habits of mothers. We’re actually quite accustomed to moms, as the carriers of their children, as the “important link” to their health. Expectant mothers shouldn’t smoke, shouldn’t consume caffeine, need to be concerned about mercury levels in their diets, need to avoid alcohol, are discouraged from dying their hair … the list grows longer just about every year. And that makes sense. Growing babies receive their nourishment directly from the women in which they develop. And proper development requires some restrictions. We rarely hear about dads in the same manner.

But now there appears to be a link between a father’s sugar consumption just before conception and an increased risk of obesity in his offspring.

A new study shows that increasing sugar in the diet of male fruit flies for just 1 or 2 days before mating can cause obesity in their offspring through alterations that affect gene expression in the embryo. There is also evidence that a similar system regulates obesity susceptibility in mice and humans. The research, which is published online December 4 in the Cell Press journal Cell, provides insights into how certain metabolic traits are inherited and may help investigators determine whether they can be altered.

Research has shown that various factors that are passed on by parents or are present in the uterine environment can affect offspring’s metabolism and body type. Investigators led by Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik, of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Germany, and team member Dr. Anita Öst, now at Linkoping University in Sweden, sought to understand whether normal fluctuations in a parent’s diet might have such an impact on the next generation.

Through mating experiments in Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies, the scientists found that dietary interventions in males could change the body composition of offspring, with increased sugar leading to obesity in the next generation. High dietary sugar increased gene expression through epigenetic changes, which affect gene activity without changing the DNA’s underlying sequence. “To use computer terms, if our genes are the hardware, our epigenetics is the software that decides how the hardware is used,” explains Dr. Öst. “It turns out that the father’s diet reprograms the epigenetic ‘software’ so that genes needed for fat production are turned on in their sons.”

Because epigenetic programs are somewhat plastic, the investigators suspect that it might be possible to reprogram obese epigenetic programs to lean epigenetic programs. “At the moment, we and other researchers are manipulating the epigenetics in early life, but we don’t know if it is possible to rewrite an adult program,” says Dr. Öst.

The fruit fly models and experiments that the team designed will be valuable resources for the scientific community. Because the flies reproduce quickly, they can allow investigators to quickly map out the details of how nutrition and other environmental stimuli affect epigenetics and whether or not they can be modulated, both early and later in life.

“It’s very early days for our understanding of how parental experiences can stably reprogram offspring physiology, lifelong. The mechanisms mapped here, which seem in some way to be conserved in mouse and man, provide a seed for research that has the potential to profoundly change views and practices in medicine,” says Dr. Pospisilik.

FoodFacts.com found this research exceptionally fascinating. First, it brings fathers directly into the health mix on a different level, clearly stating that their contribution to the developing child goes beyond genetics. And subsequently, the idea that science can use this information to determine whether or not there can be some sort of modulation of these effects may prove to be quite valuable in the war against obesity.

Until that can be determined, it’s probably a good — and simple — idea for dads to limit their sugar intake prior to conception. Moms already give up quite a bit in order to achieve healthy pregnancies. Giving up sugar is surely an easy and temporary sacrifice for fathers to make to contribute to that goal.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141204140737.htm

Dunkin celebrates the holidays with the Snickerdoodle Latte

1387790365401Tis the season for all sorts of holiday beverage innovations from the world of fast food! We know — people really love these holiday flavor concoctions. But even if these treats only come around once a year, FoodFacts.com still thinks it’s important to understand exactly what’s in those holiday flavors.

Today we’re exploring the new Snickerdoodle Latte from Dunkin Donuts. We’re pretty sure everyone remembers Snickerdoodle cookies. They’re especially popular during the holidays. Pillowy soft and slightly chewy, Snickerdoodles are rolled in cinnamon sugar just to make sure they’ve reached a sinful level of sweetness. Well now you can taste that cookie right in your latte.

If that sounds too good to be true, we’re probably about to burst your bubble.

Here are the nutrition facts for a medium Snickerdoodle Latte with whole milk:

Calories:                   340
Fat:                           9 grams
Saturated Fat:         5 grams
Sugar:                      51 grams

Yes, you read that right. There are 51 grams of sugar in a medium Snickerdoodle Latte. That’s almost 13 TEASPOONS of sugar in a 16 ou. cup. We’ve featured that size because it is the most commonly ordered — so that’s what most people are consuming at Dunkin.

The ingredients reveal what’s behind those 51 grams of sugar:

Milk; Brewed Espresso Coffee; Snickerdoodle Cookie Flavored Swirl Syrup: Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk (Skim Milk, Sugar), Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Brown Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt; Ground Cinnamon.

So we have sugar in the condensed milk, more sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and brown sugar … in addition to some natural and artificial flavors. A bit over the top for us.

There’s sweet. Then there’s too sweet. And finally, there’s ridiculous. For us the Snickerdoodle Latte falls into that last category.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/hotbeverages/specialitycoffee/latte.html?DRP_DAIRY=Whole%20Milk&DRP_SIZE=Medium&DRP_FLAVOR=Snickerdoodle%20Cookie

Want younger looking skin? Ditch the soda!

Why-Diet-Soda-Bad-YouAs time marches on, virtually everyone becomes concerned about the appearance of their skin. We’re so concerned, in fact, that there are hundreds of creams, serums, scrubs, peels and masks that we can spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to purchase throughout the year to help in our quest to remain looking as young as possible. FoodFacts.com happily read some new information on skin care today that has nothing to do with making yet another investment in products that may — or may not — work for us.

We all want to look good as we get older, and for the majority of people, the signs of aging are most obvious on our face. Dermatologists remind wearing sunscreen, keeping sun exposure to a minimum and avoiding smoking, but what about slowing down premature aging from the inside? Recent studies say part of the answer may be cutting out soda.

It seems like every time we turn around, there is another study about the negative health effects of soft drinks, and recently attention has turned to the damage it can do to your skin.
Dr. Steven Victor, dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told FoxNews.com that in more than 33 years of practice, he’s experienced the effects of soda on his patient’s skin first-hand.

“The biggest problem about soda is the crazy amount of sugar,” Victor said. “The dangers of sugar to the body are not new, scientists have been studying it for years. When a patient consumes a lot of sugar, it shows in their skin.”

Results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the top source of added sugar in American’s diet is beverages.

“I notice wrinkles, skin texture, oil content,” he said. “When you see somebody who is having a lot of sugar, their skin doesn’t look glowing or bright, it looks saggy and dull.”

Victor said the major problem of consuming soda is the inflammatory effect it has on the body.

“Soda is a factor in the aging process of the skin because it causes the body to produce all kinds of inflammatory products,” he said. “I compare it to Pac-Man, going around the body eating good tissue. Diet, and especially soda, greatly affects your skin.”

Many dark colas contain advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. A recent study from the National Institutes of Health determined that AGEs react with proteins, lipids and nucleic acids in almost all skin cells, contributing to and potentially accelerating skin aging.

In addition to sugar and AGEs, the caffeine found in soda can dehydrate the skin, emphasizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Plus, soda may cause certain skin conditions to become more problematic.

“If you are drinking a lot of soda, you are starting a whole inflammatory cascade in the body, so if you have a skin condition you are exaggerating it,” Victor said. “Especially eczema, or very dry, itchy inflamed skin, and acne, specifically cystic acne.”

The visible effects of soda on the skin can even be compared to those of smoking. The side effects of sugar on the skin, including dullness, dryness and the decrease in skin cell production, coincide with the effects of nicotine.

“Soda causes damage to the skin just like smoking,” Victor said. “Just like sugar, nicotine causes inflammation. Whether you are drinking or smoking chemicals, it’s hard on the body to fight them.”

The good news? Victor said it’s possible for the skin damage soda causes to be reversed.
“Cutting out sugary drinks and replacing them with water definitely produces a visible change in the health of the skin, in a very short amount of time,” he said. “If you can reduce the amount of soda you drink, you will start looking better and your skin will look better.”

If you, or someone you love, is having difficulty reducing or eliminating a soda habit, this information can provide plenty of motivation! A visible change in the health of your skin in a short amount of time. No fancy creams or scrubs or expensive treatments. Just giving up soda. Sounds like a less expensive, more effective plan. And let’s not forget that we’ll be doing the rest of the body a big favor at the same time!

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/11/12/what-is-soda-doing-to-your-skin/

Should sodas carry warning cigarette-style warning labels?

sugary-soda-del1014-lgnSugary sodas have been in the news constantly over the last few years. FoodFacts.com has seen New York City consider and dismiss a ban against larger sized sugary beverages. We’ve watched Berkeley, California institute a nominal soda tax and San Francisco consider and dismiss the same. We’re even watching the federal government mull over a national soda tax.

While thus far these initiatives haven’t gone anywhere, the news surrounding soda is serving to educate consumers about exactly how unhealthy the chemical concoctions really are.

Americans are waking up to the dangers of drinking sugary sodas in excess. Now that science is increasingly showing a link between high sugar consumption and chronic disease like diabetes and obesity, some lawmakers think it’s time to warn people about the detrimental health effects of drinking soda much like cigarette labeling did in the 1960′s.
In New York, Brooklyn lawmaker Karim Camara is proposing a state law requiring sugary sodas to carry a warning label: “SAFETY WARNING: DRINKING BEVERAGES WITH ADDED SUGAR CONTRIBUTES TO OBESITY, DIABETES AND TOOTH DECAY.”

“I firmly believe that this will lead to a reduction in people drinking soda and in children drinking soda,” Camara told CBS News.

Camara calls his labeling initiative “public education” and likens it to seeing calorie counts posted on the pastry case at Starbucks. He says when he sees that a donut has 400 calories he chooses the healthier option because he’s informed.

While cigarette warning labels played a role in informing the public about the dangers of smoking and reducing the popularity of cigarette smoking in America, warning labels alone may not be enough.

According to the CDC, higher costs for tobacco products through increased excise taxes, along with mass-media campaigns targeted toward youth to counter tobacco marketing, also contribute to reducing smoking and preventing teens from starting a tobacco habit.

In recent years, American legislators have been trying a variety of tactics to make sugary drinks less attra many have failed. In 2010, then New York Gov. David Paterson sought a penny-an-ounce “fat tax” on soda and other sugary drinks. After a multi-million-dollar campaign by the beverage industry claiming the tax would cost jobs, the state legislature turned down what would have amounted to a 12-cent tax on a can of Coke. But, in an ironic twist, they agreed to add another $1.60 in taxes to the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

A few years later, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried a different approach by banning the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, delis and other outlets. The ban was thrown out by the courts without ever taking effect.

Now, the soda tax idea may be getting a second wind. Voters in Berkeley, California, recently passed the nation’s first soda tax, a penny an ounce, in order to curb the consumption of sugary drinks. However, across the bay in San Francisco, voters rejected a proposed 2-cents an ounce soda tax.

Passing this type of legislation takes time, effort, and money. Is it really worth it?

Camara, the author of the warning-label bill, thinks so. “The people that are disproportionately affected by diabetes are poor or people of color, and I believe increasing awareness will help parents stop giving soda to their children,” he says.

“Government action to address the dangers of sugary drinks is crucial as the epidemics of obesity and diabetes continue to wreak havoc on the health of our communities. We commend Assembly Member Camara for taking this important step,” the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

Warning labels on sodas. We’re not sure how well that will work. Honestly, we’re not so sure how well it worked with cigarettes. It’s more likely that the higher taxes imposed on every pack that hit smokers in their wallets had a larger effect. Sugary soda taxes might be the way to go.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-drinking-soda-the-new-smoking/

Spreadable Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are in your grocery store right now

222This is big news for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup fans. It’s been nicknamed “the Nutella killer.” It’s actually all over the internet. And it’s getting great reviews. Folks are saying that Reese’s new Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread actually tastes like you’re eating a peanut butter cup. Candy in a jar.

Obviously that makes FoodFacts.com think “Hmmmmm … we have to wonder what’s going on in there.”

So just in case you’re one of those folks that’s always dreamed about spreading a peanut butter cup between two slices of bread, or on an apple slice or a banana, we wanted to find out what you can expect inside that jar that’s made all your peanut butter cup dreams come true.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size:             2 tablespoons
Calories:                    190 calories
Fat:                            12 grams
Sugar:                       19 grams

Not the healthiest spread in the world. But we do need to point out that the facts for the Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread are almost an exact replica of those for Nutella. The sugar content is fairly high here, and it’s definitely not something you want to mindlessly dip apple slices into for that very reason. There are almost 5 teaspoons of sugar in every serving and you’ll probably go through a few servings on one sliced apple.

We’ve got the ingredient list too — and these are very similar to the ingredients found in the candy:

Sugar, Peanuts, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower and Palm Oil), Dextrose, 20% or less of: Cocoa Processed with Alkalai, Cocoa, Salt, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil ( Palm and Canola Oil), Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor, TBHQ, Citric Acid

We’re not thrilled. First, we can talk about the idea that the first ingredient is sugar. As we already stated, there’s a lot of it in here. There’s a lot of oil here as well — and while it isn’t partially hydrogenated oil, we’re not fond of the need for it in a product that features peanuts (that contain their own oils). We’d also like to point out the presence of TBHQ (which the actual candy also contains) and “natural vanilla flavor.” Remember that as long as the word flavor follows natural and vanilla, it’s not really natural or vanilla.

So, even though the reviews point out how tasty the Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread is and how they feel like they’re eating candy out of a jar, we can’t quite get on the bandwagon for this one. The main reason for that is that people really are eating candy out of a jar, sugar and controversial ingredients included. Honestly, it was bad enough as candy.

http://www.hersheys.com/reeses/spreads/flavors

Proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Under Federal Consideration

Three Soda BottlesWe followed the fate of the proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban in New York City and watched as it was defeated. Former Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to curtail the sweet tooth of millions of New Yorkers was met with everything from applause to extreme criticism. A pizzeria in Manhattan actually refused to serve the former mayor a second slice of pizza, telling him that if he wanted to force New Yorkers to count their calories and reduce their sugar intake, the pizzeria could also control his. While that made for some memorable headlines, there are many who still believe that the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban (which applied only to drinks over 16 ounces) was a healthy move for New Yorkers. In that spirit, the federal government is moving towards its own version of health-oriented legislation.

For the first time since 2009, legislation proposing a national tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is under consideration in the House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act — or SWEET Act — last week.

The bill would levy an excise tax on sugar content in beverages. Under the SWEET Act, manufacturers would pay a tax of one cent per teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener added to most beverages. For point of reference, a 20-ounce soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugar. The tax works out to just under a penny-per-ounce of beverage. Drinks such as milk, infant formula, alcoholic beverages and many juices are excluded.

But because the tax is based on amount of sugar and not on ounces of beverage, the federal approach is “a built-in incentive for manufacturers to diminish the concentration of sugar,” says Dr. Lynn Silver with Oakland’s Public Health Institute. Silver and other PHI staff gave input to DeLauro’s staff in formulating the bill and also has been part of the Berkeley coalition that helped draft the measure there.

She said the national approach is different from local efforts, because a graduated tax is “more complicated” to implement at the local level. “It makes more sense at the federal level which has the resources to track down all the beverages and figure out how much they should be taxed,” Silver said. “But for smaller communities, that would be challenging.”
One of the first questions that reasonably pops into people’s minds when they hear about such a bill is what is the possibility of it passing? Silver countered that question with a question: “How many times did health care reform get introduced? Lots. Almost a hundred years before it actually passed — and it passed in pieces, with Medicare and Medicaid each being created separately.”

Silver said she expected “many attempts and incremental efforts to really make change.”

Mexico passed a similar soda tax to the one proposed — a peso per ounce, or about 10 percent — which took effect in January. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages promptly dropped 5 to 7 percent. At the same time, consumption of diet sodas and bottled water are up.

“I think the first lesson of the Mexican soda tax,” said Silver, “is that it’s working as expected.” People are cutting back on sugary beverages and increasing consumption of more healthy alternatives.

If the SWEET Act passes, the money would go to the Prevention and Public Health Fund created under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to any public health programs the money might fund, a tax is estimated to have modest effects on health, because of reduced consumption of sugar.

A U.C. San Francisco study found that a national penny-per-ounce tax would reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 15 percent. Researchers said that reduction would lead to modest weight loss and reductions in diabetes. Over 10 years, researchers estimated there would be 26,000 fewer premature deaths, 95,000 fewer instances of heart disease and 8,000 fewer strokes.

The American Beverage Association opposes the tax. A statement on its website is titled, “Taxes Do Not Make People Healthy.”

FoodFacts.com can agree with that general statement. But we’d follow it up with “Taxes can motivate people to consume healthier beverages.”

We all know that as soon as manufacturers are being charged for sugar by the teaspoon in their sodas, iced teas, and some of their juice drinks, they will immediately pass those costs off to their consumers with higher prices. We feel pretty comfortable making the assumption that once prices go up, consumption will go down. Seems like a pretty good reason for those same manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their beverages.

http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2014/07/30/national-soda-tax-bill-introduced-in-washington/

Too much salt may spell heart disease for diabetics

iStock_000030596950SmallDiabetes rates have soared in recent decades. For those who suffer with the disease, dietary vigilance becomes a way of life. It’s a condition that requires constant attention in order to maintain health and well-being. Diabetes can lead to any number of serious health problems, including heart disease.

Many have come to relate diabetes with sugar. Diabetics have to be careful of sugar and carbohydrate consumption. But it’s not only sugar that raises alarms for people with diabetes. Eating a high-salt diet may double the risk of developing heart disease in people with diabetes, according to a new study from Japan.

For any person, too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. To assess how people with diabetes fare in relation to the salt in their diet, the researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 diabetic patients, ages 40 and 70, from across Japan. The study participants answered questions about their diets, including their sodium intake, and were followed for eight years.

Participants with the highest sodium intake (about 6,000 milligrams per day, on average) were twice as likely to develop heart disease over the study period than those with the lowest sodium intake (about 2,800 milligrams per day, on average), the researchers found. Among the 359 people with the highest sodium intake, 41 developed heart disease, compared with 23 of the 354 people with lowest sodium intake. [4 Tips for Reducing Sodium]

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet,” study researcher Chika Horikawa, of the University of Niigata Prefecture in Japan, said in a statement.

The researchers adjusted the results for other factors that may contribute to people’s heart disease risk, such as their alcohol consumption and total calorie intake, according to the study published today (July 22) in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The findings add to the evidence that consuming less salt could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes, the researchers said.

The negative effects of salt on blood pressure and heart health has long been established. Even for healthy, young people, dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. A limit of 1,500 mg is recommended for groups at increased risk of heart disease, including African-Americans, people older than 51, and people with high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes.

The average American takes in about 3,300 mg of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Main sources of salt in people’s diet include salt used in cooking and sodium naturally found in meat, vegetables and dairy, as well as processed foods, which have high levels of sodium.

People with Type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, and the condition is a risk factor for heart disease. More than 29 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and another 86 million have high blood sugar levels and could progress to having diabetes, according to the CDC.

In the study, the researchers also found the effects of a high-sodium diet were worsened by poor blood sugar control. But they didn’t find a link between high-salt diet and other complications of diabetes, such as kidney disease or vision problems, or dying.

Sugar and salt. Sugar and salt. It seems we hear disturbing news about either or both more and more consistently. FoodFacts.com wants to remind everyone in our community that Americans consume far too much of each of them on a daily basis. And most importantly, we want to remind everyone that the bulk of the sugar and salt we are consuming does not come from the sugar bowls and salt shakers in our kitchens. Rather, they come from the copious amounts of processed foods it becomes more and more difficult for average consumers to avoid on a daily basis. This research is one more reason to be as conscious as we possibly can be about the quality and content of the foods we consume.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/07/23/high-salt-diet-may-double-diabetics-heart-disease-risk/

Food Fight! Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates at odds over added sugar transparency on food labels

iStock_000001563163SmallFor many of us of a certain generation, the words “Food Fight” will always invoke the memory of John Belushi’s Bluto screaming the phrase in the middle of the cafeteria featured in the classic movie, Animal House. If only the world could always be that simple and funny. This post, however, details a real-life, real-time food fight that has erupted between powerful Big Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates on the heels of the Food And Drug Administration’s proposed changes to nutrition labels that include listing the amount of added sugar in food products.

Here at FoodFacts.com, we think everyone would like to know how much sugar the food industry is actually adding to the products we purchase. We’re sure that even the most uneducated food consumer would choose transparency when it comes to this serious and well-publicized issue.

Scientific studies increasingly are finding links between sugar consumption and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. With public health at stake, advocates say, consumers need to be informed of what is being introduced into their food.

“Food producers and others that represent sugar interests are robbing us of this information that we should have access to, they’re robbing us of our health,” said Gretchen Goldman, an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “People have a right to know how much sugar is in their foods.”
The inclusion of added sugars appears to be a jab from the FDA at food manufacturers, whether the agency intended for it to be or not. Other measurements on nutrition labels—calories, fat, sodium—are passive: They simply state how much is in the food. But the added sugars measurement is active: It implies that the company the consumer is purchasing from has included something that could be dangerous in high doses over the long term.

Food business groups argue that a gram of sugar, natural or added, is a gram of sugar—so why distinguish it?

“There is no chemical difference between naturally occurring sugars or added sugars, and…there is no scientific evidence that added sugars are linked to obesity or other chronic diseases,” said Lee Sanders, a spokeswoman for the American Bakers Association.

But foods containing added sugar are among the most unhealthy, supporters of the FDA proposal say, and more information is a good way for consumers to be more conscious of that.

“The food industry response has said that the body doesn’t distinguish between added and natural sugar, and that’s true…but we do no harm by limiting added sugar, and we know it’s a good way to limit calorie intake. It seems to be a logical step to include added sugars on the label,” said Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

The American Heart Association, which supports the label change, came out with a scientific statement in 2009 that recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for women, and nine teaspoons a day for men, citing the body of evidence that connects high intake of sugar to health problems.

Big Sugar, advocates say, is employing strategies reminiscent of Big Tobacco in its heyday.

“[They’re] different players, but it’s the same game,” Goldman said. “We’re seeing the exact same tactics that Big Tobacco was using. They’re trying to manufacture doubt in the science, they’re trying to pay their own experts to carry their talking points, and they’re doing these things with the intent to undermine public policy.”

Industry also has other objections to the proposed change to nutrition labels: Sanders, from the bakers’ lobbying group, said it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to calculate added sugar.” The FDA acknowledges the costs of the rule change for businesses, estimating that the one-time expenditure would be $2.3 billion for labeling, reformulation of products, and record keeping.

And there are more individualized concerns. The International Dairy Foods Association, for example, is concerned that the definition of added sugar includes natural sugars isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component—fruit juice concentrate, for example. That would affect the added sugar count for dairy products such as whey, nonfat dry milk, or milk protein concentrate.

The proposed FDA change appears to have left the biggest of the industry lobbying groups unenthusiastic about communicating with the media. A Sugar Association spokeswoman, Tonya Allen, declined to speak by phone on the issue, pointing only to a weeks-old statement put out by the organization. The Corn Refiners Association did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Stakeholders and business groups have until August 1 to comment on the proposed change. The FDA then will review the comments and consider them in edits to the proposed label, followed by the enactment of a final label. Industry will then, under the proposed rules, have a two-year transitional period over which to comply with the new requirements.

Over the next two weeks, as the FDA comments period draws to a close, industry groups are expected to turn up the heat on the proposal.

“The food industry knows that when they add it to food, you buy more. They don’t add it for any other reason,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a University of California-San Francisco professor who has campaigned against sugar consumption. “You [currently] can’t tell how much sugar has been added, and the food industry wants it that way.”

Read that last quote carefully. We can’t tell how much sugar has been added to our food. We’re being told to keep sugar consumption to between 6 and 9 teaspoons per day (depending on our gender). It appears we don’t know how much sugar we’re consuming and lobbyists are trying to keep it that way. And it certainly doesn’t appear that the “sugar is sugar” argument being made by the sugar lobby has much to do with the problem. The problem originates with the question, “how sweet is sweet enough?” The food industry wants to continue to answer that question without transparency or input. We’re hopeful that the FDA will begin making these major changes next month.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/19/guess-who-doesn-t-want-you-to-know-how-much-added-sugar-is-in-your-food.html

Dunkin’s newest summertime treat … the Frozen Oreo Coffee Coolatta

1398160875255It had to happen sooner or later, after all there are Oreos featured in hundreds of different products. Ice cream, ice cream cake, pudding, cheesecake, cereal, cake frosting … Oreos are everywhere. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dunkin Donuts latest Coolatta features the Oreo.

On the Dunkin website, the new Coolatta flavor is promoted as “The Best of Both Worlds. The perfect blend of everything that’s delicious in the world. Our signature Frozen Coffee flavor with delicious OREO® cookie pieces mixed in. Just what your taste buds ordered.” O.k. maybe it’s what someone’s taste buds ordered, but what about someone’s healthy lifestyle?

Let’s find out.

Right away, it’s easy to notice that the nutrition facts for the new Dunkin Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta leave a lot to be desired. The facts listed are for the medium size of the beverage (the most common size sold for frozen drinks). It’s also for the skim milk version, because we’re being kind.

Calories:           440
Fat:                   4.5 g
Sugar:              83 g

That’s right, 83 grams of sugar in the medium-sized drink — or to be more specific 20.75 teaspoons of sugar in just one Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta. Imagine that for a moment if you will; someone adding 20.75 teaspoons of sugar into a 24 ounce beverage. That’s almost a teaspoon of sugar per ounce. A bit much for us.

Here are the ingredients:

Frozen Coffee Base: Water, Frozen Coffee Concentrate (Water, Sugar, Coffee Extract, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor); Skim Milk; Oreo® Chocolate Base Cake Cookie Crumbs: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Canola Oil, Cocoa processed with alkali, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Chocolate, Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor).

So for 440 calories, we would be enjoying caramel color, natural and artificial flavors and some high fructose corn syrup.

FoodFacts.com can definitely find a better use for 440 calories during any given day. So for us, this is one of many Oreo-laden treats in which we won’t be indulging.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/frozenbeverages/coffee1/oreo_frozen_coffee_coolatta.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Oreo&DRP_SIZE=Medium&DRP_DAIRY=Skim+Milk