Sugar’s not-so-sweet side
New app aims to combat misleading food labels
Trying hard to cut down on sugar consumption?
If you’re only relying on nutritional labels, here’s some bad news: You may actually be consuming more sugar than you think.
“There’s no way you can read the label and know how much of that amount is from free sugars,” said Jodi Bernstein, a nutritional sciences PhD candidate at the University of Toronto.
Free sugar refers to the total amount of naturally present sugars found in products such as syrups, honey and fruit juices, plus the factory-added sugars. It does not include sugar naturally present in milk, vegetables or whole fruit.
Some products contain only free sugars — like coca cola — and their labels reflect the actual amount, she said. But flavoured yogurt will contain some natural sugars from different produces that make it, plus some added sugars from the manufacturer. The label, in that case, doesn’t give you the breakdown, she said.
Enter a new invention: One Sweet App. It’s a sugar tracker that uses a built-in food database to calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar found in your foods.
The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. That’s approximately 50 grams of sugar, or about 2,000 calories.
When the app user tallies all the food they ate per day, the app breaks down how much free sugar was consumed, and how it compares to the WHO guidelines, said Bernstein.
“We’re hoping this app will help increase awareness about products that are higher in free sugars,” she said, adding it will be a good starting point for people to make proper adjustments in their diet.
The app, currently available on iTunes, complements the release of a new documentary critical of sugar industry. Sugar Coated film documents how businesses have for long gone at great lengths to hide the “toxic” side of sugar, said Michele Hozer, its director and producer.
How much sugar is really in that cereal? The sugar tracker One Sweet App aims to tell you using a built-in food database.