“So many people look for sugar when they are buying a product, and so they look at the label, but the reality is that most manufacturers are disguising sugar with different names,” says Dina Labuschagne, dietitican and nutritionist at Evolve Mind Body and Soul in an interview with Aljazeera.
Since sugar became public enemy number one and started receiving bad press, food manufacturers are trying their best to disguise it on food labels.
“The main thing that came up is high fructose corn syrup. It’s cheap and so it was included in a lot of the foods without having to increase the prices of that food. A lot of people didn’t look for high fructose corn syrup because they’re looking for sugar [on labels],” she adds.
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High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a fructose-glucose liquid sweetener alternative to sucrose (common table sugar) first introduced to the food and beverage industry in the 1970s, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This year, the World Health Organisation released a new guideline for sugar consumption. It recommends that adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.
Free sugars refer to sweeteners like glucose, fructose, sucrose or table sugar added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
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Too much sugar has been linked to heart disease and diabetes, and yet there are few policies to limit the amount of sugar that manufacturers can put into food.
“I do think there is a massive lag, and I think this could be because many of the multinationals who are selling these foods have incredible lobbying power,” says Leonie Joubert, specialist on food security and author of The Hungry Season: Feeding Southern Africa’s Cities.
Sugar hides in places you may not imagine such as fruit juices, energy drinks, breads, and even condiments like tomato sauce and mayonnaise. Many diet foods that are labelled “low-fat” are packed full of sugar to improve the taste. There are over fifty names for sugar you should be on the look out for if you are trying to decrease the amount you consume:
Sources: Huffington Post, Aljazeera, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.