Thursday, July 05, 2012

Badvertising: Sweetwashing Products Made Entirely of Sugar


Ever come across the term, "Unsweetened" on the front of a package?  How about, "No Sugar Added"?

They're there to make you feel that the product inside the box is a healthy one.

A quick peek at the back of the box is probably in order.

Take Mott's Fruitsations Unsweetened Strawberry Fruit Rockets for instance. Reading the ingredients you'll find that they include both, "Concentrated Strawberry Puree", and, "Concentrated Fruit Juices".

And what are concentrated purees and juices?

Sugar.  Plain old sugar.

So how much extra sugar is this sweet-washed "unsweetened" strawberry flavoured red goo packing?

Double what you'd find in an equivalent weight of actual strawberries.

Think that's bad?

Check out all of these:

3 teaspoons of sugar per 18g serving (66% sugar by weight  responsible for 80% of calories) coming from  concentrated apple purees and juices.  10X the sugar of 18g of actual apples.

2.75 teaspoons of sugar per 14g serving (79% sugar by weight  responsible for 98% of calories) coming from concentrated apple, pear, strawberry and grape purees and juices.  15.7X the sugar of 14g of actual strawberries.

9.25 teaspoons of sugar per 250mL serving (sugar responsible for 99% of calories) coming from concentrated grape, apple and raspberry juices.  One cup of this juice contains the equivalent amount of sugar as would 6.9 cups of actual raspberries.

9.5 teaspoons of sugar per 250mL serving (sugar responsible for 101% of calories?) coming from concentrated grape, cranberry and apple juices.  One cup of this juice contains the equivalent amount of sugar as would 9.5 cups of actual cranberries.
And who's right there helping with the sweetwashing by providing their seal of approval to products that are almost literally pure sugar?  Why the Heart and Stroke Foundation as its Health Check logo is on each and every one, which in case you weren't aware is meant to signify,
"The Health Check logo tells you the food or menu item has been reviewed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s registered dietitians and can contribute to an overall healthy diet"
Is there really a dietitian on the planet that would recommend the consumption of products made virtually entirely out of sugar?

Produce NOT products!

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19 comments:

  1. Can you do a post explaining the legal definition of "no sugar added," "unsweetened," and how they legally appear on these products? It doesn't really make sense to me unless they define sugar from fruits as not sugar. Thanks.

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    1. Kevin, you got it right already. Despite the fact that concentrated fruit purees and juices are just sugar, our government (and the Heart and Stroke Foundation) is happy to allow these products to pretend they're "unsweetened" and that there's "no sugar added".

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  2. One of my favorite ingredients: Organic evaporated cane juice. Now, THAT's healthy stuff!

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    1. HMMM,, what are you left with when you "evaporate" all the moisture out of the sugar cane?? SUGAR! The word"organic" doesn't make it any healthier,

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    2. Anonymous11:59 am

      Sometimes I start to think it's a lost battle. Even the semi healthy things turn out to be crap and most of the people are happy to serve real crap to children and they don't care, I witnessed sodas given to 5 year olds or even younger, french fries burgers, onion rings, and hawaian punch which is not juice at all but parents turn a blind eye. My hubby buys juicy juice and waters it down because we both tried it and felt it was appalling how SWEET it is, makes the teeth hurt. You wouldn't manage to convince those parents to give natural juices to kids in the first place, or fruit pulps, or any sort of veg. So even with these products stated in the articles being too sugary crappy, you won't find most of the parents getting them for their kids, they'd go for way worse. I don't know what to do, unless suddenly we lose all power and have to start from scratch, kids will be living shorter than their parents.

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  3. Hm. FDA does not allow a claim of "no added sugar" if concentrated fruit juice had been added. Canadian regulations are apparently different.

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  4. i'm curious as to how they determine the claims along the lines of "equal to 2 servings of fruit in every cup"....by what measure?? you've just proved that they're equal to far more than that if we're talking sugar and i imagine far less if comparing fibre.

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    1. By measure of our god-awful, non-evidence based Food Guide that still considers half a glass of juice to be a fruit.

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  5. This is just dressing up candy (boiled fruit sugar) and pretending that it isn't candy. Liquid candy is very popular...little plastic bottles that kids suck on, full of coloured sugar solution...colas and fruit juices not much different, except in concentration.

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  6. Roman Korol9:31 am

    Point of interest, Dr Robert Lustig, MD provides a short & sobering overview of the evils of sugar here

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  8. Dr. FreedHoff, you seem to hold dietitians in such high esteem. To answer your question, I have no doubt that a dietitian would recommend these foods. After all they help very little in the way of eating nutritiously eg. hospitals, nursing homes, day-cares, etc. For all the good a dietician does for peoples' health, they really do not need to be licenced.

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    1. I am a dietitian and I agree that there are WAY too many dietitians out there who are in fact promoting some pretty unhealthy things; artificially sweetened foods, horrible protein shakes (carnation instant breakfast), fruit juices, etc. However, not all of us are on the gov't promoting guideline bandwagon. I like to form my own opiinions and promote THOSE to the public. People need to know the truth about the foods they are eating, not just the govt's version of it!

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    2. Anonymous2:53 pm

      In response to the comment of how little we dietitians do everywhere, I would like to point out that in the public sector (hospital, nursing home etc... ) we are shackled by budget demands. It is very difficult to feed people in a healthy way with the budget we are given, and the budget shrinks every year. In fact, prisoners have a bigger food budget then the hospitals do! We do our best in very demanding situations.
      Also, as a fully licensed dietitian working mostly with kids, I would never, ever recommend these types of foods to anyone to replace fruits and vegetables. I have my own brain and thoughts, and most of us dieitians understand the difference between marketing and what's real. Every profession is guilty of promoting government/corporate garbage, so to single out dietitians is unfair and really negates all of the good stuff I think we do!

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    3. If what you two dietitians say is true, then you, other dietitians and your Professional College better start doing something about it to change the view the public has regarding dietitians.

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    4. OntarioRD5:54 pm

      I am a dietitian and completely agree with your comment 'noshj029'. Our college and association NEEDS to start doing more to change the public view of RD's as a profession. I belong to many RD networks and we are all demanding better campaigns, public perception issues, etc as we pay several hundred dollars every year. It gets frustrating! An example is the Nutrition Month campaign this past March - embarrassing for RD's.

      With regards to recommending the products above - it is sad to see that RD's are hired by these companies to endorse these products. We learn early on about the negative aspects of healthcare and in particular ethical considerations and promoting brands - I do not agree with this at all (neither did our education support it) and definitely do not take any part in it!

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  9. I just read this posting and then read this statement, "Is there really a dietitian on the planet that would recommend the consumption of products made virtually entirely out of sugar?" and I realize that I'm very late to the game in making a comment on this post so it most likely won't get read, but, well, yeah. Not only are there dietitians on this planet that recommend products made entirely out of sugar, there are dietitians completely out of touch with anything resembling anything that looks like whole food. I'm glad you hold dietitians in such high esteem and I sincerely hope it's quite different in Canada, but here in the States, a referral to a dietitian will bring you nothing but suggestions of "Make sure you get the bagel sandwich at McDonald's not the biscuit sandwich, eat a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and only eat two pieces of pizza for dinner, not the whole thing."

    Sadly, I'm not joking.

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    1. OntarioRD6:00 pm

      Atlantya - I would like to comment about what you said re: dietitians making suggestions about better options for eating out. If you are counseling a patient who eats McDonald's Big Mac's 5 days/week for most of their life and you tell them to stop cold turkey - they will never return for counseling because as an RD, it's ridiculous to assume someone will take the ideal advice and actually make changes.

      If you've never heard of the 'stages of change' model, I suggest looking into it. You need to start with small steps and gain the trust of the individual to help them change their eating habits along with creating an environment for empowerment. It's absolutely ridiculous to assume that RD's are there to make someone eat homemade sandwiches with lean meats every day when their entire dietary history has consisted of high fat, high sugar, high sodium foods. Every person's plan needs to be individualized, that's why RD's are educated the way they are.

      There are many other factors involved with regards to health besides pushing for the ideal lifestyle. I know that doctors encounter the same issues - someone has been smoking for 30 years 1 pack per day, they tell them to stop cold turkey and the patient never comes back because the doctor doesn't understand the other issues in their life and implies it's an 'easy' fix.

      It just doesn't happen that way unfortunately...

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  10. WOW! This is SO sad. I am learning a lot about labels lately and it is downright ridiculous!

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