More Attention Needed To Sugar In Foods

Despite the overwhelming amount of information available on diets and the benefits of healthy eating, our obesity epidemic shows no signs of declining. Perhaps there is simply too much information available, making it difficult for people to make informed choices that can improve their own individual situation. Two of the best examples of this are sugar and fat. Both are part of a balanced diet, but there are some qualifiers to that statement, and this is where the confusion begins for most people. Sugar and fat are both naturally present in foods such as grains and fruit, but not in the same way that we generally understand them to be.

Nutritionists recommend that we eat something from each of the five food groups every day. These groups are cereals (including bread, pastas, noodles and rice), fruit, legumes (vegetables), dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt) and meat (including fish, poultry, eggs and nuts). On food packaging, these are often categorised as energy, carbohydrates, sugars, fats, protein and sodium, depending on the contents.

The confusion happens because of the misinformation there is around the function of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a complex group of foods which can be categorised as simple and complex. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate whereas starch is a complex carbohydrate found in bread, pasta and potatoes. All carbohydrates can be broken down in the body into sugars. Glucose is the simplest sugar and is the basic unit that produces energy in the cells.

Basically, when we consume complex carbohydrates, it takes the body some time to break them down. As a result, the stomach feels fuller for longer periods of time, and the energy is released into the body in a more controlled, sustained manner. However, when we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, they are burned up quickly, so hunger returns and we are tempted to eat again. This is why it is just as important to control the body’s intake of sugar, as it is to control the intake of saturated fat.

When a consumer reads the nutrition panel on packaged food, then places the items into plastic bags in Brisbane, they should look both at the amount of sugar in the product and the amount of saturated fat. Both of these food elements should be limited but not necessarily completely eliminated. The human body requires both to function properly.

The main cause of our obesity levels is that people now consume more energy (through eating) than they are burning up through activity (movement and exercise). Instead of looking for the “magic pill” that will reduce weight overnight without effort, just do more and eat less and watch the kilos melt off.