Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sugar, sugar

Well, well, well... several well-known brands are trying an experiment, reformulating their products using sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Heinz Ketchup, Mountain Dew and Wheat Thins are among the reformulated offerings.

But these companies are just sticking their toes in the ocean, and don't expect them to go for a swim anytime soon, unless there's major money to be made by doing what's right. If more people demand sugar than are apathetic about what they ingest, a bigger change may come.

The obesity problem in the United States won't end by just replacing HFCS with sugar. Humans are hardwired to crave sweets.

The epidemic, however, seems to have started with the addition of HFCS, which is much cheaper than sugar, to many items that had no sugar in them before, such as crackers, popcorn and nuts, along with the cultural switch from drinking water or milk to consuming soft drinks with meals. Add to that the decline of health classes, where good eating habits such as consuming five fruits or vegetables each day are taught, and a lessened emphasis on physical education, and a generation of Americans have come to see overweight as the rule rather than the exception.

It's good that many people now recognize severe dieting practices as dangerous, but we as a culture still need to learn portion control and how to limit our sweet tooth, as well as get 30 minutes or so of exercise each day.

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