Sugar in food difficult for consumers to recognize
Too much sugar is unhealthy. This finding is not necessarily new and most people are aware of the health warnings of scientists and medical professionals. Nevertheless, most people consume more of it than is good for the body and some consumers find it difficult to control consumption. In addition, the information on the packaging is not always clearly understandable and sugar is hidden behind a lot of labels on the food. This lack of transparency is wanted by the food industry, because the products can be sold much better with a sugar-sweet taste.
Sugar is shown as a subcategory of carbohydrates in the nutritional table on foods. However, the printing of this table is not mandatory for the food companies. The body gets most of its sugar from finished foods. This is in soups, delicatessen salads, sauces and of course in sweets. In ketchup, jelly, Coca Cola, fruit yoghurts and rusks. As a rule, 5 and 50 pieces of sugar are used.
Around 60 percent of Germans are overweight According to a report by the federal state of Berlin in cooperation with the EU Commission in 2010, almost 60% of Germans are overweight. Sugar mainly harms the body in two ways. On the one hand it promotes the development of caries and on the other hand it makes you fat due to its calories. The European Food Safety Authority sees sugar beverages as a decisive factor for the steady increase in obesity among children and adolescents. Excessive consumption of sugar is repeatedly blamed for the development of type 2 diabetes.
Consequential diseases burden the health system The resulting secondary diseases such as arthrosis, high blood pressure, fatty liver and calcification of the coronary arteries (coronary heart disease) lead to a heavy financial burden on our health system. But sugar has not only become a problem in Germany. Our neighboring countries are also struggling with the consequences of excessive sugar consumption and the EU sees itself more and more obliged to act. "Even if health policy is the responsibility of the individual member states, the EU Commission wants to fight the problem of obesity together with the EU countries," said Reinhard Hönighaus, spokesman for the German representation of the European Commission to the "dpa". The EU Commission can provide the financial means to promote healthy eating projects.
The German Society for Nutrition recommends consuming sugar and foods with different types of sugar as rarely as possible and, if possible, banishing sugar-sweetened drinks from the menu. Other organizations are also concerned about sugar consumption. The consumer organization "Foodwatch", for example, recommends "to reduce the amount of sugar specified in baking recipes by half". The cookies and cakes would still taste sweet enough. Since 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that "sugar should make up less than ten percent of the daily diet."
What types of sugar are there? Numerous different substances are summarized under the generic term sugar. Sugar can be obtained from plants or, if it is common household sugar, from sugar beet and sugar cane. It is definitely not easy for the consumer.
The consumer advice centers counted around 70 different names in a survey last year. Dextrose, fructose or fructose, maltose or malt sugar, sucrose, maltodextrin, invert sugar, corn and wheat starch, they are all in some form sugars that are found in many foods and are not perceived by the consumer as sugar.
In so-called "light products", industry often uses sugar substitutes, such as Asparam. Too large amounts of these remedies can have a laxative effect, and there are still no reliable studies on the long-term effects of sugar substitutes. The “nutritional traffic light” that has been under discussion for a long time could make things a lot easier for consumers. It would quickly show at a glance how healthy a food really is. The color "green" is considered harmless and "red" is to be understood as a warning. So far, the food industry has successfully resisted introduction. (fr)
Image: Thomas Siepmann, Pixelio.de