Sugar, sugar..

There has been a push for nutrition labeling to include information distinguishing natural sugars (naturally occurring in foods such as fruit and milk) and added sugars, as currently, only total sugar is listed. Much to the dismay of many, it appears that the changes will only include adding a percent daily value for sugar (including a comment at the bottom stating that <5% would be a low amount and >15% would indicate a high amount of sugar in that food item) and grouping sugars together (to help individuals identify unknown sources of sugar).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that added sugars make up no more than 10% of your total daily calories, but they strongly suggest aiming for closer to 5% of your total kcals. This means that for a 2000 kcal diet, you are looking at no more than 100-200 kcals from added sugars which is about 25-50g of sugar (6.5-12.5 tsp) per day. To put this in perspective, 1 can (355ml) of coke has 10 tsp of sugar in it, which is almost the 'daily allowance'.  

Now don't be fooled. The body considers all sugar the same: brown sugar, white sugar, honey, cane sugar, etc, etc. and breaks them down the same way, leaving you with the same risk factors. Regardless of its form, there are concerns with consuming too much sugar. Too much sugar can increase your triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood; increased triglyceride levels are linked with heart disease. Because sugar has no nutrient value, it is also associated with poorer overall diet quality as it provides you with empty calories, thus increasing obesity risk and risk of type 2 diabetes. And, your dentist is right about Halloween- too much sugar also increases you risk of dental caries and tooth decay. 

To help out consumers, Nathalie Bibeau, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, Department of Nutritional Sciences, developed the One Sweet App that will allow individuals to track how much added sugar they are consuming. The app is designed to be able to scan barcodes of food items, and to inform the consumer exactly how much added sugar is in the product. If a food item isn't in the database, consumers are encouraged to submit the food item and the nutrition team behind the app will update their database asap!

Do you think the app would be useful to consumers? Would you use the app? Does this app make up for the fact that new labeling won't distinguish between natural and added sugar?

We would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave your comments below.

M & K

Sources:

Government of Canada-Proposed food label changes to sugars information:  http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/alt/pdf/health-system-systeme-sante/consultations/food-label-etiquette-des-aliments/sugars-sucres-eng.pdf

World Health Organization (WHO) Sugar Intake for Adults and Children, 2015 Report: http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guidelines/sugars_intake/en/

CBC News report, March 28th, 2016: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/programs/metromorning/food-guide-1.3509623

To download One Sweet App: http://sugarcoateddoc.com/the-app/