Sugar’s not-so-sweet side

New app aims to com­bat mis­lead­ing food la­bels

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - HEALTH - Gil­bert Ngabo Metro | Toronto

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.

ISTOCK; CON­TRIB­UTED

How much sugar is re­ally in that ce­real? The sugar tracker One Sweet App aims to tell you us­ing a built-in food data­base.

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