News24

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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Comments
  • iwance.wasdere - 2013-01-28 08:17

    Aside from sugar (which it has in abundance) there are far worse poisons in the average bottle of coke. I think our whole diet has to change from top to bottom, but practically speaking it's never going to happen on a large scale moderated level so all we can do is manage it ourselves on a personal level. Parents need to be better educated about what they give to their children to consume because the junkfood and softdrinks they indulge their children with are actually poisoning them and leading to a host of future health problems. As you already found out.

      jim.boorman.7 - 2013-01-30 12:37

      Read the book by Gary Taubes called Why we get Fat. I did and have lost 24 kilos in 3 months; the key issue is elevated levels of Insulin caused by food stuffs containg sugars, starches and carbohydrates. And as Chris Moerdyk has discovered this causes diabetes, as well as heart disease and cancer not to mention a metabolic syndrome that causes weight gain. This is not a "diet book" but a book setting out scientifically proved facts in lay language why we get fat. Simple.

  • beryl.knipe - 2013-01-28 09:40

    There should be labels on ALL genetically modified foods GMOs)!!

      AshleighLanghein - 2013-01-28 10:25

      Funny - I was just talking about this, this very morning. A friend in the USA didn't change anything about how much food she was eating, but just switched from eating "Fresh and Healthy" food to the Organic version of the same food (e.g. she made sure the tomatoes and other vegetables she bought were definitely Organic). She lost 40kg in 1 year, that is 3,33kg a month. No other lifestyle changes at all! She still eats Take-out every Friday night like she did before she started buying organic. It makes me wonder what else is being kept secret?

  • Jeremy - 2013-01-28 09:49

    I think the point is that smoking is dangerous to one's health full stop. And alcohol is also dangerous in that it can cause you to get drunk, with all the dangers that implies to yourself and others. Almost EVERY foodstuff is dangerous to one's health IF taken in large quantities! How many times have we heard anout the dangers of sugar, coffee, Coke, fried food, hamburgers etc etc! Even apples contain large amounts of sugar! I love a cup of strong coffee in the morning with three spoons of sugar. But you know what....I have maybe two cups a day max - and I eat and drink everything else in moderation. The end result is that I'm in good health, I'm not overweight, I still have all my own teeth and, if I take after my dad, I'll live to be at least 90! And that, Chris, is why sugar bags don't carry a warning..because if they dud, so would just about every other foodstuff. As another correspondent has written, it's about common sense....

      Jeremy - 2013-01-28 10:19

      I'd just like to add, I have a 9-year-old daughter who, like every other 9-year-old, likes eating sweet things. I've watched her and her friends playing together for years now - and I've never seen any of them losing it or becoming "creatures from hell" as a result of too much sugar. Sounds like you didn't educate your now grown-up kids very well Chris!

      flysouth - 2013-01-28 10:56

      I agree. This sugar phobia is an American thing, especially in respect of kids being hyped-up after taking sugar. The problem is not sugar, it is the lack of control over kids as a result of lack of discipline. As my long-departed father advised 'Everything in moderation, son!'

  • leaproach.thekeeper - 2013-01-28 11:37

    With the advent of refined sugar many years ago the diabetes figures rose exponentially in concert.

  • esme.jacobs.940 - 2013-01-28 12:12

    Maybe this will be like global warming - man will only realize the damage done when it is almost too late.

  • ColinShephard - 2013-01-28 17:15

    People sit in their cars on the way to work, then sit at work, then sit in front of a tv and complain how tired they are when they go to bed. I agree that sugar isn't good for you but what makes it even worse is that we sit the whole day so our bodies doesn't have an opportunity to use all the energy created by the food we consume.

  • 1977ub - 2013-01-28 17:32

    Is this a typo, or an expression I'm not familiar with? "... entirely my fault for being guts ..." Thank you.

  • Bingo - 2013-01-29 07:08

    If labels are that powerful, why not use them to promote all the healthy food. Oops silly me, they do that already.refined sugar is not evil, too much, however, is. But I am sure we all know that.

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