added sweeteners workplace wellness

Added Sweeteners: Hidden in Diet, Hard to Understand

Added sweeteners can be found throughout our diets. So what can you do about it?

One step is to understand just how rampant — and hidden — sugar is. The University of California, San Francisco found that “Added sugar is hiding in 74% of packaged foods.”

Their post on SugarScience states: “We tend to think that added sugar is mainly found in desserts like cookies and cakes, but it’s also found in many savory foods, such as bread and pasta sauce. And some foods promoted as ‘natural’ or ‘healthy’ are laden with added sugars, compounding the confusion. In fact, manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets. So, even if you skip dessert, you may still be consuming more added sugar than is recommended.”

Added Sweeteners: Confusing to Understand

One challenge is trying to understand the language. It can be confusing. A first step is to make sure to read food labels. But those may not be as clear as they should be.

As UCSF notes: “There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. These include common names, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, among others.”

Further: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food producers to list all ingredients in their foods. But added sugar comes in many forms – which is why it’s so hard to find on the ingredients label… While product labels list total sugar content, manufacturers are not required to say whether that total includes added sugar, which makes it difficult to know how much of the total comes from added sugar and how much is naturally occurring in ingredients such as fruit or milk. That makes it very difficult to account for how much added sugar we’re consuming.”

Yesterday we outlined some easy tips that employees and employers can put to use within a well-run workplace wellness program to help reduce sugar intake. These included: Stay hydrated; Watch out for low- and nonfat foods; Combine protein, healthy fats and fiber; Bring healthy snacks to the office; and Take small steps.”

UCSF offers additional tips on items to be careful of when shopping at the supermarket:

  • “One leading brand of yogurt contains 7 teaspoons (29 grams) of sugar per serving.”
  • “A breakfast bar made with “real fruit” and “whole grains” lists 15 grams of sugar.”
  • “A single cup of bran cereal with raisins, in a box advertising “no high-fructose corn syrup,” contains 20 grams of sugar per serving.”
  • “A cranberry/pomegranate juice product, also advertising ‘no high-fructose corn syrup’ and ‘100% Vitamin C,’ contains 30 grams of added sugar per 8 oz. serving. Some of the sugar is naturally occurring, but some of it has been added.”

Tomorrow we take an even deeper dive, with a fuller exploration of how each of us can reduce our sugar intake.