Much of the sugar we consume is hidden in processed foods traditionally not seen as sweet. Even though you aren’t pouring tonnes of sugar into your body, how could you be consuming more than you need?
1. Listing small portion sizes
Food manufacturers will often list ingredients of smaller portions than the actual size of the product to make you think the food contains small amounts of sugar. For example, if a food item weighs 500 grammes, the manufacturer may give you a list of ingredients per 100 grammes.The amount of sugar in such a serving will appear low while in fact the whole product contains way too much sugar.
2. Using different types of sugars in one food
Ingredients on a food label are listed according to their weight. The more of an ingredient in food, the higher up the list it will be put. To make a product appear as if it contains less sugar, manufacturers will often use more than two types of sugar so that they can individually appear further down the list which gives the consumer a false sense that the product is healthier than it really is.
3. Use of words commonly associated with health on sugary foods
Food companies will often play with people’s psychology by using words that the general population associates with good health. For example, words like fruity, will give a consumer a false perception that the item is a healthy product.
4. Using alternative names for sugar on food labels
Added sugar comes in many forms with different names which makes it difficult to point out on the food label. There are more than 60 different types of sugars with different names than can be listed on a food label. Look out for names like dextrose, fructose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, rice syrup and maltose.
5. Adding sugar to ‘non sweet’ foods
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Just because a food doesn’t have a sweet taste doesn’t necessarily mean it is sugar-free. Sugar can be added to all sorts of foods. For example, a table spoon of ketchup contains approximately one teaspoon of sugar. Most breakfast cereals also contain sugar.
6. Use of sugar substitutes
Products that are sweetened with unrefined sweeteners made from fruits, seeds and honey will often have big labels that state they do not contain refined sugars. This is a marketing strategy that catches the eye of many consumers. Even though these sugars may be a bit healthier, they are still added sugars and high consumption will have similar effects on health as refined sugars.
7. Sweet versions of a low sugar brand
Food companies will often piggyback on established brands with loyal customers to release newer versions that will often contain too much sugar. This is commonly done with the box juices and breakfast cereals. For instance a low sugar, whole grain breakfast cereal may have a new version with added ingredients, sugar, flavour and colour.