Chris Moerdyk

Sugar coated chaos

2013-01-28 07:35

Chris Moerdyk

When I was a youngster, smoking was considered a perfectly safe pursuit and mothers didn't mind kids pouring bucket loads of sugar onto their porridge and into their tea because in those days sugar gave you energy.

Unfortunately, my penchant for covering everything I consumed with sugar caught up with me to the point where I now have an incurable but manageable health condition.

Frankly, up until now I have just considered this to be entirely my fault for being guts or perhaps a bit of blame on the part of my parents who had to go without sugar during the Second World War and as a result made the most of it when supplies resumed.

But over the festive season I was watching a number of my grandchildren at various meals having more than their fare share of sugar-laden treats. Without exception, within the hour those cute little cherubs all transformed into creatures from hell.

Now, what intrigues me is that while products like tobacco, alcohol, medicines and heaven knows how many others, carry warnings within regard to excess consumption, I have yet to find any such warning on products containing sugar.

I am extremely conscious of this because I have to look carefully at food labels to make sure they don't contain refined sugar and it is remarkable just how many foods are loaded with sugar. Even mustard for crying out loud.

A cursory glance at the internet will show all manner of references to schools and even in some cases, cities wanting to stop the sale of soft drinks and snacks containing sugar.

I have to wonder why those people, who lobbied so passionately to have health warnings on cigarettes and alcohol, ignore sugar.

Logically of course, sugar is the lifeblood of big business and when something is important to big business it's pretty sure that if you complain about it, you will end up against a brick wall.

Interestingly, I had a look at the regulations that govern advertising and to my surprise I have found that according to our advertising watchdog, the statement that a excess of sugar can cause health problems is "unsubstantiated".

Which petty much means that you can advertise your sugar-loaded goodies and if any consumer should complain that the product label or ad is dangerous because the excess consumption of sugar can cause ill health - they will be told that the claim is unsubstantiated.

For heaven's sake, I would guess that anyone with a half a brain knows that if you consume too much sugar your health will inevitably suffer unless you have the metabolism of superman.

I reckon it is logical to assume that the reason you don’t see health warnings on products that contain sugar is because the sugar industry and big business just have far too much clout.

I find it very strange that there is such an outcry over relatively trivial health issues yet when it comes to sugar, nobody says a word.

I have the say though, that I am very much against all these health warning labels because they really don't achieve anything worthwhile.

But, I do find it odd that sugar seems to have completely escaped the net. Particularly as consuming sugar in excess is probably just as bad for you as the excessive consumption of alcohol.

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