A newly invested food test could help Americans curb their addiction to sugary foods.
The groundbreaking technology developed by Sugarwise to measure added sugar in foods will be start being used in the US from today. Following on from new FDA guidelines on food labelling, the technology is the only way of independently measuring the added sugar in foods without obtaining recipe information from manufacturers, the US-based company said.
Sugarwise has developed a certification programme that will use the test to award a kitemark to those products low in added sugar, helping people to quickly identify them in order to control their added sugar intake.
Scientists will later give details of the new system – offering consumers a means of identifying foods low in added sugars for the first time – and make the system available to US manufacturers.
Sugarwise chief scientist Vinicius Ferreira said: “An overwhelming majority of the American population far exceeds their added sugar target on a daily basis. Obesity levels are soaring and sugar-related illness is rising rapidly. We have developed the test and certification to help people take control of their sugar intake. If Sugarwise encourages the food industry to address added sugar content, the knock on effect could be huge.
“We have to start drawing a distinction between added sugars and overall sugars, because added sugar content, rather than the total sugar content currently displayed in nutritional labels, is the critical measure of the quality of a food’s nutritional profile. Foods high in added sugar are almost universally deficient in other nutrients and fibre, and when the population starts getting a large proportion of their daily calories from foods high in added sugar, they fail to meet their daily requirements for nutrients and fibre.
“Moreover, foods high in added sugar are typically digested faster and lead to more frequent feelings of hunger. To get the most ‘nutritional bang for your buck’ Sugarwise promotes consumption of foods low in free sugars, and, to cut through the noise and misinformation regarding sugars, my scientific colleagues and I have developed a new Sugarwise standard to evaluate foods. Foods that meet our criteria will carry our Sugarwise brand, which will enable consumers to easily and quickly identify products that are truly Sugarwise.”
Ferreira, from the California Institute of Technology, developed the method in conjunction with scientists from the University of Cambridge.
Added sugars are the big food issue of our time
Sugarwise founder Rend Platings said: “I was shocked to hear my daughter’s generation may live a shorter life than their parents [because of sugar intake]. It’s not that we don’t know about the dangers of sugar, we do; the problem relates to our lack of access to healthier choices. I am hoping that Sugarwise will have the potential to change things in the same way Fairtrade and organic labels have – both have successfully driven up demand and availability of products in their categories. We would all benefit if the same was the case for low added sugar products.”
And Dr Tom Simmons from the University of Cambridge continued: “Added sugars are accompanied by less fibre and other nutrients that can be found in the whole food. Therefore, they are less likely to suppress appetite and consequently people who consume a diet high in free sugars are more likely to consume too many calories and gain weight. We still have to be aware of salt, fat and total sugars but added sugars are the big food issue of our time. They are arguably the most important issue where there is the largest potential to positively impact health by changing the added sugars profiles of our foods, especially if these changes can be made in the manufacturing process. “
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