Cigarettes and Sugar

What’s common between the cigarettes and sugars? Well, both are harmful to our body and health. In a recent article in Time Magazine article, Mark Haymand and Ron Gutman, highlight the detrimental impact of checking food labels and ingredients, such as the amount of sugars, on our health.

Extensive academic research published in medical peer-reviewed journals backs common knowledge that excess sugar consumption can lead to serious chronic conditions, as well as fatigue, anxiety, memory loss, ADHD, and even to a shorter life.

– Mark Hyman and Ron Gutman on Time Magazine

It is important to know what’s in our food because it helps us make smarter choices about what we eat and how it affects our health – from our hormones to our brain chemistry, even our immune system and microbiome.

Take sugar, for example. The FDA recommends that adults consume no more than 50 grams of added sugar per day. However, but most Americans consume significantly more than that, averaging about 100 pounds of sugar per person per year. As a result, almost half of American adults are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Hayman and Gutman write that in 70% of package foods, sugar is hidden in so many foods that we consider are healthy, such as yogurt and salad dressing, which are eight times more addictive than cocaine! So, we get stuck in this cycle of craving more sugar without realizing it.

In many countries, labels on packaged foods serve a similar function to labels on cigarette cartons: to warn consumers of risk. In Israel, a front-of-package labelling system, wherein a red label indicates an item high in sugar, has led to significant positive changes in 76% of the population’s food buying habits. We’re excited to see what a similar program in the U.S. would yield.

This dynamic is similar to changes made in cigarette advertising in the 20th century. In the 1940s, a famous Camel cigarettes campaign featured the slogan, “More doctors smoke Camels.”

– Mark Hyman and Ron Gutman on Time Magazine

Some big food companies in the US are said to be concerned that such changes will hurt their sales, and are fighting back similar to how cigarette companies fought against warning labels in the past. When those labels were put in place, fewer people smoked and life expectancy went up.

They write “The recently announced new standards by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will limit added sugars in school meals can greatly help with the availability of healthier alternatives, especially when children form their eating habits. For the rest of us, though, front-of-package labeling is an important step one in this journey towards national wellness and it will also encourage producers to create healthier options for consumers; readily available healthier alternatives is step two.”

In conclusion, knowing what’s in our food is more than a nice thing; it’s our right. Clear labels about sugar content can help us make better choices for our health.