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A Missed Opportunity

A Missed Opportunity

Further to yesterdays post on media coverage of health matters, I want to quickly air my frustration at the Mail newspaper and their promise of a 32 page guide to the hidden sugar in food. I am not a Mail reader – I’m not really a newspaper reader as I simply don’t have the time with all the research papers I have lined up to read.

However, I bought a copy of The Mail on Saturday as I was keen to see the sugar guide as it sounded really promising. I don’t want to be entirely dismissive, as it is certainly heartening that the sugar issue is becoming so mainstream and the introduction in the pull-out was well written, informative and concise, making very clear the need to reduce sugar in the diet.

On looking though this guide however, I was left confused and rather disappointed, and I’m supposed to know about these things. There are many pages of processed, packaged foods (foods I never eat) and the amount of sugar in teaspoons these foods contain – useful for those who do eat such ‘stuff’. Carrot cake from Starbucks: 11 tsp per slice – jeepers!; KP Honey Roast Peanuts: 7.5 tsp per 180gr bag; Lindt Classic Milk Chocolate: 14 tsp per 100 gr bar and Ambrosia Creamed Rice Pudding with Sultanas and Nutmeg: a whopping 8tsp per 400gr tin.

So, a real eye opener if these foods are your regular favourites, especially when you consider that the World Health Organization are recommending a reduction from 10 to 5 tsp per day per person. The problem for me came when I saw that an egg was given a value of 1/2 teaspoon per egg – the same as a slice of white or brown bread. But a scotch egg, albeit a mini one, was given a zero sugar value. Fish fingers got a zero rating too as did a bag of Ready Salted Walkers Crisps. A handful of raw almonds was given 1/2 tsp but half a tube of Pringles, 1/4 tsp.

So, hang on … an egg contains about 1/2 gram of carbohydrate. The intro of the pull-out states in bold: 1 tsp sugar weighs 4 grams. This means an egg contains about 1/8th of a teaspoon of carbohydrate. Not to get in to semantics, but to put an egg, or almonds for that matter, at a higher sugar content to half a tube of Pringles is utter madness.

What has not been made clear is that sugar – as in the white stuff you add to tea and cakes, and the starch content in foods like crisps, Pringles and bread all come down to the same thing – glucose. The body very readily converts starchy foods like processed grains and potatoes to glucose, making bread, crisps, breaded foods etc. far, far higher in ‘sugar’ as far as our bodies and blood sugar are concerned than eggs or nuts.

So nice try Mail, good start but I fear people will be more confused about what’s healthy and what’s not and that it’s ok to eat highly processed, carb-heavy foods believing they are as healthy as an egg and almonds. 🙁

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