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Sugar is Not the Problem in the Obesity Epidemic, Where you Eat is

Health experts are giving sugar a reprieve in the case against obesity. While sugar and its many processed variations are running amok in the food we eat at home or away, fats, oils, flour and cereal are more to blame for America’s continuous bloat.

Sugars Fats and Oils

According to the CDC, 25.6% of Americans have a BMI greater than thirty, firmly planting them into the obese category. Since we tend to lie about how tall we are and how much we weigh, the figure is probably a bit generous, but it’s a 10.3% increase since 20 years ago, and that’s alarming.

A New York Times article reports that Americans are consuming 448 more daily calories— or 20% more—than they were in 1970. The Department of Agriculture says 242 of those calories are from fats and oils, 167 are from flour and cereal, and only 35 are from sugars.
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Dannon Secretly Reduces Sugar in its Kid-Friendly Yogurt. Does It Matter?

If you or your kids are regular consumers of Dannon’s Danimals Smoothies, you’ve been taking in about 25 percent less sugar with each serving. Since February they’ve cut back the sugar in their kid-focused yogurt. They purposefully didn’t make a big deal about it as to avoid scaring off consumers.

danimals less sugar

It’s not the first time a brand has made a change to its formula only to reap the repercussions of consumers who prefer the status quo. McDonald’s faced backlash when switching from an animal fat frying oil to canola over concerns those world-famous fries would taste different. (Today their website boasts the use of a canola oil blend and that all fried foods on its menu are free of trans fats.)

And of course everyone knows the tale of New Coke, when the soft drink company reformulated its soda and became one of the most infamous marketing flops around. So changing something that wasn’t necessarily broken had to be done so in an exacting way by Dannon. It’s no surprise that the brand treaded these sugary waters carefully.

“One thing I have learned is that the main driver of yogurt sales above all is taste,” said Sergio Fuster, senior vice president for marketing at Dannon, to NYTimes.com. “You do not want to send any signal to the consumer that might lead her to believe the taste has changed because she will simply pick up another yogurt — and it may not be ours.”
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Sugar and Salt: The Battle to See Which Kills More of Us

A recent study found a correlation between how high a nation’s sugar consumption is and its type 2 diabetes rate. Now researchers are taking it a grim step further by estimating how many deaths can be directly attributed to sugary drinks.

Researchers at Harvard have linked sugary drinks to the deaths of 25,000 Americans every year and 180,000 deaths worldwide.

“We know that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to obesity, and that a large number of deaths are caused by obesity-related diseases. But until now, nobody had really put these pieces together,” said Gitanjali Singh, the lead author of the five-year study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.

soda and chips

In a not-so-shocking development, The American Beverage Association issued a critical response to the study’s findings.

“It does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages causes chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer – the real causes of death among the studied subjects,” the industry group said in a written statement. “The researchers make a huge leap when they take beverage intake calculations from around the globe and allege that those beverages are the cause of deaths which the authors themselves acknowledge are due to chronic disease.”
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Sugar is Our Biggest National Health Threat, and Candy May be the Biggest Gun

The war on junk food is in full throttle. It began its slow escalation from proposals to improve school lunches and banning soda machines in schools, then maybe took a left turn into a little absurdity with the Mayor Bloomberg-led moratorium on giant-sized sodas in New York City (which takes effect tomorrow).

Junk food has been front and center in recent weeks as a high profile New York Times report outright accused food makers of a concerted effort to hook the public on cheap unhealthy snacks. Now, sugar is back in the crosshairs, and candy makers are beginning to sweat.

sugar study

It’s nothing short of surreal: the candy industry wants to offer solutions to the obesity crisis.

“If we don’t [act], I worry that someone else will do it for us.” said Debra Sandler, president of Mars Chocolate in North America at the National Confectioners Association meeting in Miami. “We need the whole industry to step up… We are not judged by the leaders of the category but by those who do not take responsibility for change.”

One place Mars and its competitors are starting – their youngest consumers. “They have adopted a policy to voluntarily stop direct marketing of candy to children under 12 years old. That’s a start,” noted Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert.
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Cola Wars: Soda Industry and Health Advocates Clash Over Obesity Blame

There’s a new cola war going on, but it’s a little more serious than the old Pepsi vs. Coke feud of decades past. Obesity is out of control, stretching our already stretched-thin health care system, and sugar consumption is center stage.

So, what do you do when you are the purveyor of some of the biggest selling, empty-calorie, sugar-laden drinks in our country’s history? Well, you play damage control, of course.

soda ban debate“We have not done a good enough job in telling our story and being consistent in telling our story,” said Coca-Cola spokeswoman Diana Garza Ciarlante.

Right, the problem is that people don’t know what Coca-Cola is really all about. In reality, we’re talking about a propaganda war. Try to soften the blow of bad publicity, then draw more attention to your diet soda by signing a major celebrity spokeswoman — Taylor Swift announced her partnership pitching Diet Coke last Sunday:

 

But back to damage control. Coke decided to take on obesity directly, with their “Coming Together” campaign, pointing out that of their 650 beverages, they offer 180 low- or no-calorie drinks.
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