by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Sugars

Mar 29 2021

Annals of marketing: honey to dietitians

A dietitian colleague forwarded this message from Today’s Dietitian.

Honey may be made by bees, but it is mainly glucose and fructose just like any other sugars.

A few “food-for-thought” questions:

  • Should dietetic publications be promoting sugars of any kind?
  • Should dietitians be recommending honey to their clients?
  • Should dietitians allow their publications to accept ads like this?

 

Mar 10 2021

New York City’s terrific food initiatives

New York City is taking big steps to improve its food system.   Two reports are worth noting, one from the Mayor’s office and one from the Health Department.

I.  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Kate MacKenzie, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy (MOFP) have released Food Forward NYC: A 10-Year Food Policy Plan.

Here’s how they introduce this impressive report:

Food Forward NYC is the City’s first ever 10-year food policy plan, laying out an comprehensive policy framework to reach a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system by 2031.

Food Forward NYC emphasizes the importance of equity and choice – enabling a food system where everyone should be able to access the food they want wherever they may want it. To enable this choice, we need to support both our food workers and our food businesses. To strengthen the sustainability and resiliency of our food system, we need to rethink our food infrastructure and deepen our connections with the region.

Food Forward NYC is organized around five overarching goals:

  1. All New Yorkers have multiple ways to access healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.
  2. New York City’s food economy drives economic opportunity and provides good jobs.
  3. The supply chains that feed New York City are modern, efficient, and resilient.
  4. New York City’s food is produced, distributed, and disposed of sustainably.
  5. Support the systems and knowledge to implement the 10-year food policy plan.

The full report is here.  It was prepared in response to Local Law 40 of 2020 and recommendations from the New York City Council’s 2019 report, Growing Food Equity in New York City.  

New York City is a complicated place and it’s wonderful to have all this information put together in such a coherent way.  Let’s hope everyone gets behind this and puts the recommendations into action.

II.  The Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention at the NYC Health Department has an update on its  National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI).

In October 2018, the Bureau announced draft sugar reduction targets.  Now they have updated them and added targets for salt reduction, as well.  As I was informed in an e-mail,

The NSSRI is a partnership of over 100 local city and state health departments, associations, and health organizations, convened by the NYC Department of Health. We have set voluntary sugar reduction targets for 15 categories of food and beverages. The targets represent a 10% reduction in sugar content of products by 2023, and a 20% reduction by 2026 for food with a 40% reduction for beverages.

The current public health landscape demonstrates that diet remains critical, even during a public health emergency like COVID-19. Diet-related health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, are important to address right now.

Here’s what one of the sugar reduction targets looks like:

The objective of NSSRI is this:

To promote gradual, achievable and meaningful reductions in sugar content in packaged foods and beverages. This is because intake of added sugars is associated with increased risk of excess weight, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease and cavities.

The targets are indeed gradual; the hope it that they will be met by 2026.

The targets are, of course, voluntary.  The best NSSRI can do is to encourage companies to comply and hold them accountable.

It’s a start.

Dec 14 2020

Food industry marketing ploy of the week: exploiting Covid-19

I am indebted to BeverageDaily.com, for this item(and to Lisa Young for sending it to me).

Coca-Cola says:

In a year defined by a global pandemic, Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign is dedicated to ‘holiday heroes’ – those who have gone the extra mile by dedicating time, energy and attention to their friends, families and communities…For 100 years, Coca-Cola has been known for bringing magic and cheer to the Christmas holiday…Now, alongside its iconic Santa and polar bears, Coca-Cola is celebrating the season by putting the spotlight on everyday heroes. Coca-Cola wants to help people feel connected, and to celebrate friends, family and people in the community who deserve an extra special gift of things, especially in an unprecedented year.

This, recall, is about marketing a sugary beverage strongly associated with poor diets, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease, all well established as risk factor for poor outcomes of Covid-19.

Here’s what MarketingDive says the campaign is about.

Comment: Educators, doctors, and caregivers ought to be advising everyone they deal with to do what they can to consume sugary beverages infreuently, and in extremely small amounts, if at all.   And that’s good advice for everyone in this holiday seaseon.

Dec 9 2020

Food in the Coronavirus era: cookie addiction ?

Tobacco, alcohol, and opioids are not enough; now we have cookie addiction to contend with?

For this I am indebted to Rija, whom I do not know, but who emailed me this message:

To celebrate National Cookie Day, TOP Data conducted a study and found that American cookie consumption has increased by over 25% during COIVD.  So much so that now 1 in 5 Americans are considered cookie addicts, consuming over 3 cookies per day.

Cookie Day Insights:

  1.  Cookie Consumption across the country has risen 20% during COVID
  2.  1 in 5 Americans consume 3+ cookies on an average day
  3.  Utah leads the nation in cookie consumption
  4.  The 7 states that love cookies the least are all in the south

To see where your state ranks check out the full report and infographic.

Who knew that someone was keeping these kinds of statistics.

More than 16 percent of Americans consume 96 or more cookies a month?

One third of Americans has a cookie a day?

How big are those cookies?

Recall: big ones have more sugar and more calories.

I’m all for cookies, but small ones please.

No wonder some people are at high risk for bad outcomes from Covid-19.

Oct 30 2020

Food marketing effort of the weekend: Happy Halloween!

You might think that Halloween is—or was pre-Covid—a fun activity for your kids, but it’s underlying purpose is to sell candy, as much as possible to as many people as possible.  It’s a big part of total annual candy sales (Valentine’s Day is another).

Let’s start with The Counter’s account of how the candy industry convinced everyone to buy record-breaking amounts of candy, while public health authories were discouraging trick-or-treating.

Is it possible to trick-or-treat safely?  Suggestions:

What’s happening with Halloween in New York City?

ConfectionaryNews.com has produced a Special Edition: Fright night: How American candy companies are gearing up for Halloween

No doubt, Halloween is going to feel different this year, but as John Downs, president and CEO of the NCA [National Confectioners Association] says: “it isdefinitely happening!​”

In this special edition newsletter we focus on how the confectionery industry in the USA is preparing for one of its main holiday seasons.  Halloween is estimated to generate over $4bn in revenue for candy companies and while the festivities are going ahead, the emphasis is on staying safe and following guidelines.

To help consumers and its members prepare for this year’s event the NCA has launched its Halloween Central portal with up-to-date advice from top health experts on how to celebrate safely.  With online sales of candy soaring, we look at an innovative solution from Mars Wrigley with the launch of its virtual Treat Town app for those who are unable to join the outdoor fun this year.  We also report on how other big companies, including Hershey and Ferrero, intend to lift spirits this Halloween – and new kid on the block Stuffed Puffs completes our round-up with a spooky twist on a camp-fire classic.

Check-out the articles below to find out more – and have fun but stay safe this Halloween.

Oct 15 2020

Good news #4: Successes in reducing sugary drinks

Berkeley, California, ever at the cutting edge of public health nutrition policy, is banning junk food from checkout counters and aisles.

The new policy will require retailers larger than 2,500 square feet to stock healthy food at the register and in areas where customers wait in line, instead of items like chips, soda and candy. It forbids food items with 5 grams of added sugars and 200 milligrams of sodium, chewing gum and mints with added sugars, and beverages with added sugars or artificial sweeteners. In Berkeley, the policy will affect stores like Safeway, Monterey Market, Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl.

As a result of efforts like these—public health campaigns, soda taxes, and other initiatives—heavy consumption of sugary drinks (more than 500 calories/day) is declining.

According to a recent study, the percentage of children who drink more than 500 calories worth of soft drinks a day declined from 11% to 3%  from 2003 to 2016, and the percentage of adult heavy consumers declined from 13% to 9%.

This trend is in the right direction.

Sep 14 2020

Misleading marketing of the week: maple syrup of all things

My colleague Lisa Sasson, who is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), sent me a copy of its September 11 newsletter.  This, she pointed out, contains this advertisement for  Canadian maple syrup.

Maple syrup, delicious as it is, is basically sugar(s) in liquid form.

But “health and performance benefits”?  They have to be kidding.  I clicked on Give it a turn!

The first thing up: “Pure Maple Syrup is packed with nutritional benefits.”

Oh come on.  We’re talking sugars here.

But the hype continues:

  • Pure maple syrup from Canada contains vitamins and minerals – at approximately 110 calories per serving (2 tablespoons).  It is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of riboflavin. Pure maple syrup is also a source of calcium, thiamin, potassium, and copper.
  • Scientists have identified more than 67 different plant compounds, or polyphenols, nine of which are unique to pure maple syrup. One of these polyphenols, named Quebecol, naturally forms when the sap is boiled to produce maple syrup.

I went to the USDA’s food composition database to see what it says about maple syrup.  Its figures are pretty close to what’s given in this ad, but so what?  Manganese and riboflavin are hardly nutrients of concern in American diets—many foods have plenty—and all the other nutrients listed are in too small amounts to bother to count.

But it continues:

Maple Syrup for Fitness

  • Pure maple syrup can be a natural endurance booster for athletes because it is made primarily of carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates are the primary fuel for the body, it can help give athletes the energy they need. Use in homemade sports drinks and energy snacks for a readily available supply of energy that helps maintain your stamina.
  • Pure Maple syrup contains manganese, which may help support healthy muscles.

Translation: Eat sugar!

As for manganese,

Manganese is present in a wide variety of foods, including whole grains, clams, oysters, mussels, nuts, soybeans and other legumes, rice, leafy vegetables, coffee, tea, and many spices, such as black pepper [1,2,5,10,11]. Drinking water also contains small amounts of manganese at concentrations of 1 to 100 mcg/L [5]. The top sources of manganese in the diets of U.S. adults are grain products, tea, and vegetables [4].

Maple syrup is delicious and I love it, but it is not a health food and should not be advertised to dietitians as such.  The ad is misleading and makes the Academy look like it’s not on top of efforts to mislead its members.

Sep 8 2020

Marketing ploy of the week—and for schools, yet

Sigh.

 

According to Business Wire, Kraft Heinz, the company that owns Capri Sun, is donating “5 Million Pouches of CAPRI SUN Filtered Water to School Districts as Schools Turn Off Water Fountains”

The brand apologizes for swapping juice for filtered water and captured reactions of kids in a light-hearted campaign

PITTSBURGH & CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–While every schools’ plan to return looks different this year, kids know that recess will be on recess, masks won’t just be for Halloween and that water fountains will be off limits. CAPRI SUN knows this is a hard time for kids, so to help students have a safe and fun way to get water this school year, the brand is swapping its juice for filtered water. CAPRI SUN is donating 5 million filtered water pouches to schools in the Chicagoland area and Granite City, where its factory is located.

The company is running a sweepstakes to accompany its donations.

Shouldn’t we be happy that the company is donating water, and not the typical Capri Sun sugary drinks?

No.  Why?

  • This is marketing aimed at children (children can’t tell the difference between information and marketing, unless taught).
  • This is marketing a sugary beverage brand to children (children are highly susceptible to this kind of marketing).
  • This is marketing packaged water to children (tap water is drinkable in most places in the U.S.  If not, schools should be providing readily available urns of water).
  • The total value of the sweepstakes prizes is $400 spread across five “winners”(pretty cheap)
  • Capri Sun markets its products as juice drinks (but typically have 10% or 0% juice)

I was curious to see what the company says about its products, and looked up this one.

Doesn’t this look healthy?  Here’s what’s in it (note: concentrates are a euphemism for sugars):

FILTERED WATER; SUGAR; PEAR AND GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATES; CITRIC ACID; ORANGE, APPLE, AND PINEAPPLE JUICE CONCENTRATES; NATURAL FLAVOR.

One pouch contains 13 grams of added sugars.

These are ultraprocessed sugary drinks, best avoided or consumed only rarely, and never marketed to children.