Hidden sugars likened to “silent killers”

By Amber James

Originally posted on the Gargolye

Graphic by Amber James

Think you might have room for dessert after dinner tonight? Think again.

Although many people can look at a nutrition label and see just how much sugar it takes to make a treat sweet, there is a cloaked reality with bitter consequences. It’s called hidden sugars.

Flagler student Michelle Coark took her best guess at what hidden sugars are. “Is it a natural sugar,” she said.

Hidden sugars, or added sugars, are quite the opposite of Coark’s guess. They are sugars that don’t occur naturally in foods.

The FDA doesn’t require companies to post the added sugars on the nutrition label. Instead they are slipped into the ingredients list under strange names that the average consumer might not recognize.

Any word ending in “ose” should be a red flag, such as sucrose, glucose, lactose and fructose.

Words ending in “ol” are also  sugar synonyms, like sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol and maltitol.

Since the FDA doesn’t regulate how the sugars are grouped, many advertising companies are getting away with stretching the truth and using buzzwords like “no sugar” or “no calories” to trick the consumer into thinking a product is healthier than it really is.

Many energy drinks claim to have zero sugars. 5-Hour Energy is one of these, but listed as “other ingredients” on its nutrition label are sweeteners glycerin and sucrose.

Coke Zero also markets itself as a zero calorie, zero sugar drink, but it still contains the artificial sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame k.

Coark, an English major, said she thinks the FDA should require companies to distinguish between the different sugars and keep track of the grams on a nutrition label.

“It’s like how they made cigarette [companies] put the warning label on [the package],” she said. “It’s kind of the same thing, like a silent killer.”

But a few extra grams everyday can really add up. And it adds up to spoonfuls. Americans consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.

A woman’s caloric intake should be around 2,000 calories a day. The average woman consumes 25 percent of those calories a day in added sugars. These are empty calories that she may not even know she’s consuming.

“Fructose, sucrose, all those “oses” and you think, ‘Oh my God,’ I am consuming so much sugar. It’s crazy,” Allison Dozier, a student at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, said.

Still, she said she really doesn’t care about what is in her food, and she doesn’t think a lot of college students really have time to care either.

“Papers come before eating,” she said.

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Filed under Features, Food, Health, Paleo Diet, People

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