Trick-o-Treat…hope it is not too Sweet!

Happy Halloween y Feliz día de los muertos!
Happy Halloween y Feliz día de los muertos!

This weekend, throughout many countries, children will be filling up on many different sugary sweets.  “What’s more universal than a sweet tooth?”  Since it is a holiday, many of us will be making exceptions to how much sugar we will be eating.  This weekend will have little moderation to sugar in many of our diets.  If this amount of sugar was abnormal, then perhaps I would not be as concerned for our children and nation.

After watching the film FED UP (2014), I discovered some alarming facts.  “Since 1977, Americans have doubled their daily intake of sugar.”  We can find it in almost all of our food today.  It has been added to things that do not need it.  Not only are we increasing the amount of sugar in our food and drink products, but we are also not educating U.S. citizens on how much sugar one person should have on a daily basis.

Sugars & Sweeteners Quiz: Test Your Sugar Smarts
Sugars & Sweeteners Quiz: Test Your Sugar Smarts

Now I would like to say that I am very aware of the nutritional facts of every item that I buy; however, I am learning that there is much that is hidden behind our labeling in grams.  My grandmother is a diabetic who loves sweets. In order to keep her blood sugar levels balanced, she has to be cautious with what she eats.  While shopping with her at the grocery store, I am constantly helping her calculate how many cookies she can have of which brands.

According to the American Heart Association:

  • Each adult male should not consume over 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar
  • An adult female should be between 5- 6 teaspoons or 20 grams of sugar
  • Children should not exceed 3 teaspoons of sugar per day or 12 grams

Mark Bittman who writes an Opinion Columnist for The New York Times said, “junk food companies are acting very much like the tobacco companies did 30 years ago.”  He sees the lack of concrete statements and constant diversion to what the real issues are within the obesity in the United States.  One of the main problems is our labeling.  The FDA’s Food Labeling Guide has over 30 items on the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients list but sugar is not one of the items.  I find it horrifying that the U.S. created most of the junk food in the world and will not teach its own people how bad it is for them.  A package of OREO in the U.S. does not disclose the Percent Daily Values of nutrition for its cookies; however, in France they do share that information.  Every packed food and drink item has a breakdown of calories and Percent Daily Values.

Oreo: Milk's Favorite Cookie, Walmart USA
OREO: Milk’s Favorite Cookie, Walmart USA
Oreo_Nutrition_Walmart US
OREO: Milk’s Favorite Cookie, Nutrition Facts, Walmart USA

Please note that the above OREO packages are from the United States and the images below are from France.  Pay close attention to the Percent Daily Value as sugar (sucres) does not have a have percent on the U.S. package.  Also, notice that there are three columns on the French package, which breaks down the information clearly, even down to a single OREO.

Oreo: Milk's Favorite Cookie, France
OREO: Milk’s Favorite Cookie, France
Oreo: Milk's Favorite Cookie, Nutrition Facts, France
OREO: Milk’s Favorite Cookie, Nutrition Facts, France
Oreo: Milk's Favorite Cookie, Nutrition Facts, France
OREO: Milk’s Favorite Cookie, Nutrition Facts, France

I am unable to comprehend why we are allowing this lack of knowledge to continue.  Not only is there to much sugar, not needed sugar, in most of our food, we are also not telling people how much sugar is a healthy amount each day.  In two decades, 95% of all Americans will be overweight or obese and “by 2050, one in every three Americans will have diabetes,” according to FED UP.  Some drastic changes should be made soon to our food production and the education around it.

FED UP (2014)
FED UP (2014)