Do Canadian Teenage Boys Eat a lot of Sugar?

22 Sep

The Vancouver Sun ran an article today titled, “Teen boys consume 41 teaspoons of sugar a day, StatsCan finds.”

In the third paragraph, we learn the headline actually refers to total sugar intake, which includes sugars in fruits, vegetables, and lactose in milk.

What if we just look at added sugars?

After the StatCan authors sorted through various issues of total sugars vs. added sugars, survey design, how to calculate sugar content of foods eaten etc. they concluded that 46% of daily sugars consumed by teenage boys were added sugars.

Is that a lot?

46% of 41 teaspoons….4 grams to a teaspoon…teaspoons of sugar in an ounce of soda…wait, I think I need algebra to figure this out.

Ok, assuming my calculations are correct, Canadian teenage boys are averaging a daily added sugar consumption equal to 24 ounces of soda. (To see what the sugar content of 24 ounces of soda looks like — visit www.sugarstacks.com — ps. I used their numbers for my calculations)

Ok, so is that a lot?

An Institute of Medicine Report suggests that we should limit our intake of added sugars to less than 25% of our daily calories–higher than that and we start to displace too many nutrients in our diet.

Sigh. So, now I have to figure out how many calories are in a gram of sugar. Or wait, should I use calories per teaspoon?

Thankfully, the StatCan study authors figured it out for me. All age groups hover just above, at or below 25% daily calorie intake of sugars. And that’s total sugar intake. So if the IOM recommendation for added sugars intake is valid, Canadian teenage boys could upsize their sodas and still be under their daily sugar maximum.

So I guess everything is ok up there in Canada.

Of course there’s a sticky wicket. Not everybody agrees with the 25% of calories guideline for added sugar intake. In fact, in a controversial World Health Organization report, a recommendation was made to limit daily free sugar intake to 10% of calories. But wait, what the heck is a free sugar?

Well, according to the WHO, a free sugar is an added sugar. So, using the WHO numbers, are Canadians eating a lot of added sugar? I could probably figure it out, but…..does it really have to be this hard? Or is it hard for a reason?

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Are you getting enough sugar to keep your weight down?

21 Sep

That’s what Sugar Information, Inc. wanted to know in 1959. Sugar Information, Inc. was a predecessor to today’s Sugar Association, Inc., a trade association whose mission is to promote the consumption of sugar.

(The Sugar Molecule, Fall-Winter 1959-60 Vol. XI No.1)

There is oh-so-much to say about this advertisement (sugar as energy for women’s bowling teams)?! But what I really want to talk about is trade association advertising.

Today, two big trade associations are going head to head over the renaming of high fructose corn syrup to corn sugar. The Corn Refiners Association has already taken to calling HFCS, ‘corn sugar’ on their websites, even though the FDA hasn’t given its approval to the new moniker. And I’m sure you’ve seen the ‘corn sugar’ ads on tv (or at the very least, the Saturday Night Live spoof).

The Sugar Association and its members claim that using the term ‘corn sugar’ to refer to high fructose corn syrup in advertisements is deceptive and in violation of state and federal law.

In defense of corn sugar, Dan Webb “argued that the Corn Refiners Association is an industry group that does not directly sell any products, therefore it cannot be sued for false advertising.”

Really? Trade Associations can’t be sued for false advertising? All we have to do is look to past practices of The Sugar Association (one of the plaintiffs!)  for a quick lesson. In the ad above, Sugar Information Inc. wasn’t advertising a product, per se, but was promoting overall sugar consumption. And while this particular ad didn’t spark a Federal Trade Commission investigation, subsequent ads in the early seventies did. This one’s my favorite: Diet Hint: Have a Soft Drink Before Your Main Meal  Sugar Information Inc. lost, and was required to cease and desist AND print corrective ads.

Speaking of the FTC – why didn’t the Sugar Association and its members work through the FTC to file their complaint, rather than filing it  through the California courts? Perhaps this is more public relations, targeted at the court of public opinion?