“Fed-Up” Follow-up and the Low-Fat FAD

I finally had the chance to watch “Fed-Up” this weekend and I recommend that all of our FIT readers make the time to see it. It was a very eye-opening documentary about the perils of having too much sugar in your diet, the addictive quality of sugar (the brain response to sugar is the same as to cocaine or heroin!) and the effect sugar is having on children’s waistlines and overall health.

Please refer to the excellent fact sheet on the movies’ website here, but there are a few key points that I wanted to highlight for you (that were mentioned in the documentary).

1. All sugar is sugar. Some sugars have more antioxidants and are therefore “better” choices for overall health reasons, but your body breaks the sugars down in the same way. Here is a list of some of the possible code words for “sugar” which may appear on a label.

  • Agave
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
  • Cane Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm Sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose

2. Artificial Sweeteners may be making you even fatter! There is a very complex and scientific explanation for how the body converts sugar (or glucose) to fat, but basically, it works like this: You eat more sugar than your body needs for energy (ex: eat an ice cream sundae and go sit on the couch for the next 3 hours), and then that excess sugar gets converted to triglycerides that are stored in the fatty tissues of the body. Sugars in excess = Extra fat. So artificial sweeteners seem like the solution, right? NO! According to the article “Artificial Sweeteners Aren’t the Answer to Obesity: Here’s Why” in Time Magazine, Dr. Eran Elinav from the Weitzmann Institute of Science in Israel found “that the sugar stand-ins actually contribute to changes in the way the body breaks down glucose. How? Fake sugars aren’t digested and therefore pass directly to the intestines, impacting the millions of invisible bacteria that live in our gut. And when he and his colleagues gave seven people who didn’t normally use artificial sweeteners the sugar substitutes for seven days, about half of the people showed higher blood glucose levels after just four days.” Higher blood glucose levels AKA Sugars in excess = Fat! (This is of course the very simple explanation).

This explains why the Low-Fat fad that gained popularity in the 90’s may have contributed to the obesity epidemic. All those low-fat substitutes at the grocery store added sugar to make the food taste good (or added artificial sweeteners for the same reason). Take low-fat peanut butter for example – not only are the calories the same as regular peanut butter, but the sugar content is way higher.

It is time to be an educated consumer. READ LABELS (if you must eat something packaged). Look at the sugar content – the number will astound you! In March, The World Health Organization dropped its sugar intake recommendation from 10 percent of your daily calorie intake to 5 percent. For an adult of a normal body mass index (BMI), that works out to about 6 teaspoons — or 25 grams — of sugar per day. Just to put this all in perspective, the Chocolate Chip Clif Bar has 22 grams of sugar. 22 grams! So 1 clif bar and you are basically done with your sugar consumption for the day. If that doesn’t make you think twice about eating those protein bars, I don’t know what will…

Go see “Fed-Up”!….seriously…stop reading this and go watch it!

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