Tag Archives: sugar

Pepsi Special Aims to Make the Japanese Skinnier with a High-Fiber Additive

Pepsi-Cola isn’t exactly in a healthy industry. Over the past years, big soda companies like Pepsi and Coke have been scrutinized for contributing to the obesity epidemic. In light of this, Pepsi just announced a new fiber-infused flavor, “Pepsi Special,” that claims to reduce fat levels in the body. The product is only sold in Japan.

Pepsi Special contains dextrin, “a type of ‘functional fiber,'” explained our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD. “This is a fiber isolated or extracted from a plant (or, in some cases, manufactured) added to a food. Dextrins are true soluble fibers that can help improve digestion. They act as ‘prebiotics,’ undigested fibers that feed the friendly bacteria in the colon.”

Benefits of dextrin include stabilizing blood glucose, regulating insulin, reducing risk of heart disease, and reducing cholesterol and fat cell levels in the body. Dextrin can be found in glue products as well, but it’s not safe to consume in that form. There are a number of foods and medications that contain dextrin and have for about half a century, notes Hartley. “Most people eat some dextrins every day without noticing a change in weight,” she said.

Will drinking the new Pepsi product make you skinnier? Probably not.

“Pepsi Special is a gimmick. It is just another product to increase market share,” calls out Hartley. (more…)

Kids Sell Halloween Candy for Cash at Dental Buy Back Programs Across the Country

Last Halloween, Judah Hansen didn’t have much to show for all of his trick or treating except for $22 in cash. It’s an annual tradition for the Kansas nine-year-old. He and his parents visit a dentist’s office the morning after Halloween to sell his candy. The dentist offers a dollar per pound of candy to keep the sugary treats out of his patients’ mouths. “I’d rather get money and have some candy instead of having a bunch of candy and not being able to eat it all,” Judah told us.

According to a new survey from the American Dental Association (ADA) and Popcap Games, the average child receives 90 pieces of candy during Trick or Treating. I know that my own daughter, Judah, and their peers don’t need all of that.

The ADA survey points out that Judah’s mom and I are not alone. Seventy percent of parents surveyed agreed they’d like their kids to receive less candy. The most shocking stat – 89 percent of kids said they would still like Halloween if they didn’t focus as much on the candy and did more so on the other fun activities and traditions.

“Even when Judah was a toddler, we ended up with a ridiculous amount of candy after Halloween,” Judah’s mom Lacy told us. We didn’t want it around the house for that long as it posed several weeks of temptation for us and he was constantly asking, ‘Can I have some candy?’ When buyback became an option, we jumped on it.”

So if parents don’t want the kids to have it, and the kids don’t care either way – why do we keep buying it? Marketing, of course. Since the candy manufacturers aren’t about to let us off the hook, neither are our dentists, it’s kind of a perfect match.

Candy buy back programs have grown in popularity over the last few years. Starting November 1, you’re bound to find at least one dentist in your community trading cash, toys, or prizes for candy.

Dr. Mitchell D. Scheier in Havertown, Pennsylvania is buying back candy for $1 per pound. It’s the fifth year for Dr. Scheier & Associates’ Halloween buy back program, paying out to 100 people last year. They donate the candy they collect to the troops.

“We do this one, to help limit the amount of sugar our young patients consume during a holiday surrounded by candy and two, to offer our soldiers a sweet reminder of home during this time of year,” said Dr. Scheier. (more…)

Cows Being Fed Gummy Worms: The Health Consequences

Is there any food match more appropriate than sprinkles atop an ice cream sundae? Maybe, but none as colorful. Below the sprinkles is the obligatory mound of whipped cream, which stands tall above two scoops of ice cream. It’s expected that this dairy dessert be decorated with sprinkles and cherries and maybe even gummy worms, but would you ever think of those ingredients as feed for cattle?

It’s been reported that, in light of the worst corn harvest in six years (per the USDA), that many cattle farmers are turning to candy and other junk food to feed their cows. Yes, one penny-pinched farmer in Indiana, trying to feed 450 dairy cows on a budget, got a good deal on ice cream sprinkles. He told the Orlando Sentinel that it was a “pretty colorful load,” and in an effort to keep down costs.

With less corn feed available, a standard for large cattle operations, the price is becoming out of reach for some farmers. In addition to ice cream sprinkles as part of the new cattle diet, other farmers are finding bargains on junk food snacks like cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, dried fruit, and even Mexican food.

Orville Miller, a dairy farmer in South Central Kansas, told KWCH that he uses scraps from a local chocolate factory and Mexican food scraps from another local factory to supplement his cows’ diet at a savings of almost 50 cents per cow per day.

It’s a way of recycling,” he said, as he feeds his cows chocolate pieces, soft taco shells and refried beans. “It’s high fat, high energy feed,” Orville says, which is necessary for his cows to produce hundreds of pounds of milk a day. (more…)

Sweet News about Sugar: It’s Not Harmful in Moderation

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

Have a sweet tooth? Then you’ll love to sink it into this bit of good news: Sugar, in moderation, doesn’t seem to be harmful. If you’re like me, you’re breathing a giant sigh of relief—after all, some of the joy would drain from my life if sugar left it!

How much can you get away with? Before I give you a number to shoot for, you need to learn two sugar lessons. The first is what “sugar” really is: sweet-tasting carbohydrates that contain calories (that excludes artificial sweeteners). Some common examples are sucrose, the white granules you stir into coffee; high fructose corn syrup, which has a similar chemical makeup as sucrose; fructose and glucose in foods like fruit and in honey; and lactose, the sugar in milk.

Next, you have to learn to determine if a sugar is added or naturally occurring. Naturally occurring sugars, like those found in fruit, milk and yogurt, are generally not a problem (unless you have diabetes or pre-diabetes). The vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in these foods more than make up for any ill effects of the sugar.

Added sugar, on the other hand, is a big problem for most of us. That’s because added sugar is “empty calories,” meaning it contains plenty of calories but no nutrients. In excess, it can make you fat and increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, a condition that sets you up for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It might even make you stupid, as I recently reported. And for some people, cookies, candy and other sweets are addictive. (more…)

Sugary Drinks Still Widely Available in Schools

It seems for every stride forward we make in improving our children’s diets, we manage to take one step back as well.

It’s been wonderful seeing a decline in the availability of soda in our schools. It has no place there and offers no nutritional value to students anyways. However, while sodas are on the decline, children still have easy access to other high-calorie, sugary beverages, which often do just as much damage as that bottle of Pepsi or Coke.

The number of students that can buy soda at school has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 2006. But according to July’s issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one-third of U.S. elementary students can still buy sugary drinks.

As reported by Reuters earlier this week, findings from a University of Michigan study determined that sports drinks were the most common sugary drinks found in middle schools and high schools.

So it seems our youngest students are still being offered some sort of juice drinks and the upper level students are being offered sports drinks, all of which are very high in calories and loaded with sugar. The juice drinks serve very little purpose in a person’s diet, especially if they’re not 100 percent juice. In addition, sports drinks are not recommended for anyone unless they are doing intense exercise. (more…)

Petition the FDA to Add Sugar in Teaspoons to Nutrition Labels

Be honest, do you read nutrition labels? I have to admit I read them more and more in a quest for better health. I try to pay attention to sodium, sugar, fat and calories and I’m especially focused on the ingredient list. These labels hold the key to the ingredients within the foods we eat and are often more telling of the quality of food than the often confusing nutrition facts.

As Americans we don’t follow the metric system, so understanding the number of grams of various elements in our food can prove difficult; for some it can make the information downright useless. To make that label even more relevant, there is a petition circulating at Change.org requesting that the FDA add the number of teaspoons of sugar to the “per serving” section on nutrition labels. They currently have 117 of 18,000 desired signatures.

Implementing this idea can help greatly with understanding just how much sugar is in the foods you are considering. Added sugar is one of many catalysts in the current levels of obesity we see throughout the country.

To see how helpful this change might be, I asked our resident registered dietician Mary Hartley if reflecting sugar measurements in teaspoons would be beneficial. “Yes it would be helpful if added sugar were separated from naturally occurring sugars in fruit, milk and some vegetables,” Mary said. When asked if seeing the sugar content in grams can make a difference in curbing obesity, Mary stated, “Obesity is a multifaceted, complex problem. I would not expect any single intervention to make a big difference, although many small actions do add up. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.” (more…)

Cutting Back on Sugar Isn’t a Guarantee for Weight Loss

Between 2001 to 2004, according a study done by the American Heart Association (AHA), Americans on average were consuming 22.2 teaspoons of sugar per day, that is equivalent to 355 calories a day. Over one year that is equal to 37 pounds!

Experts say the consumption of sugar is a large contributor to the obesity epidemic and the AHA recommends women consume only 100 calories of sugar a day (6 teaspoons) and men limit it to 150 calories (9 teaspoon).

In order to cut back on the sugar, it’s important for people to understand where they consume most of the sugar. The biggest sources are soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

A good tool to use when it comes to cutting down on sugar is to use alternative-sweeteners.

“Artificial sweeteners are very useful for people with diabetes and other disorders of glucose metabolism,” says DietsInReview.com’s resident dietician Mary Hartley, RD. “For others, they can be a waste of time or not. It depends on how committed an individual is to using artificial sweeteners as a tool.”

She agrees that non-nutritive sweeteners can be useful for limiting added sugars but this will not guarantee weight loss.

She explains further, “Obesity is much too complicated for such a simplistic solution. In fact, chronic ‘dieters’ are more likely to use artificial sweeteners and statistics show that most dieters regain lost weight.” (more…)

Our Brains Light Up at the Sight of Sugar

Not sure they needed to do brain scans to prove that seeing images of sugary treats makes us want them. Never-the-less the scientists did and they showed just how much we love our desserts and what power they hold over us.

According to Linda Carroll at MSNBC.com, the researchers had women look at images of sugary treats like cookies, cupcakes, and cake while being scanned. The brain scans showed that the regions of the brain that deal with hunger and reward lit up. This study had very similar findings as a previous study involving cocaine addicts. When the addicts were shown images of drug needles the same portion of the brain lit up. Wow, sugar and cocaine pack some serious power in our bodies. All of these findings were discussed at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society. (more…)

Fructose Makes Rats Dumber, Study Shows

It looks like the soft drink industry and other sugar-laden product companies are going to take another hit in the name of fructose.

A recent study on fructose’s effects on rats showed that when fed water laced with fructose for a period of six weeks, the rats’ performance in maze navigation was slower.

This experiment was conducted by researchers at UCLA, and the results concluded that the brain is responding to insulin from the fructose consumed by the rats. The senior author of the study is UCLA professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, and the findings were published in the Journal of Physiology.

Of the study, Gomez-Pinilla said, “Our study shows that a high fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. We’re concerned about high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.” Gomez-Pinilla specified that this study is not just about high-fructose corn syrup, though. He mentioned that all sugar, including table sugar, juices and any form of added sugar should be avoided. Studies like this have repeatedly shown that the sugar contributes to instances of obesity, diabetes and blood-fat disturbances in rodents. (more…)

Are Sugary Beverages the Cause of the American Obesity Epidemic?

With concern rising around our nation’s obesity epidemic, experts are frantically trying to determine what the specific causes are, and more importantly, what the solution is. Among a number of experts is Dr. Robert Lustig, the man who’s become the face of the ‘sugar is toxic’ movement.

Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, gained notoriety after posting his lecture titled ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth‘ on YouTube in 2009, which has since gained more than 2.3 million hits.

Lustig believes sugar is the major cause of most of the health-related diseases Americans are facing today, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. And he thinks that 75% of these diseases are preventable if we’d just cut back on our sugar consumption.

According to a recent CNN report, the average American teenager consumes about 4 pounds of sugar a week – which translates to 200 pounds a year. And based on the figures of our nation’s health as a whole, the average adult isn’t far behind.

When Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked Dr. Lustig if sugar is just empty calories or if it’s more than that, Lustig responded saying everyone thinks obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little. But he disagrees, saying obesity is a marker for metabolic disfunction. And if you look at what we’re eating in America, it’s not any more fat – it’s sugar. (more…)