Health Alert: Sneaky sugars

NATIONAL - Cutting back on sugars can be difficult because many of the foods we least expect have hidden sugars, and that may be sabotaging your diet.

Obesity rates have hit their highest numbers yet in the US. About two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.

Experts say the average person consumes about three pounds of sugar a week, but most people don't realize where that sugar is coming from. Sue Cunningham, Ph.D., R.D., says, "People don't usually say that they buy that much sugar, take that much sugar home from the store every week. It's hidden in our foods, by and large."

We asked a nutritionist to show us how sugar can disguise itself on food labels. Janessa Slatky, R.D., L.D., gives an example, "In ketchup, a food that doesn't even taste sweet, the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup - sugar."

Other names to watch out for include sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose and lactose. You'll see many of those names on the side of a cereal box, especially those that appeal to children.

The key is to compare the carbohydrate and sugar content. Dr. Cunningham says, "If the grams of sugar about equals half or more of the total carbohydrate, then it's a high sugar cereal."

The revised food pyramid says we should have at least two cups of fruit a day. But nutritionists warn canned fruit may not be your best bet. Dr. Slatky says, "The one that's in its natural juice has less sugar. If you turn it over and compare the sugars,you have 10 grams in natural juice compared to 19 grams in heavy syrup."

For more than a decade, the government's required food labels on all packaged foods. Dr. Cunningham says, "You have to take the responsibility and read labels, become educated."

The information is there. It's a matter of making the right choices.

Depending on the size of the person, the guidelines for sugar intake is between 30 and 70 grams a day. To give you an idea of how much that is, the average can of soda has about 48 grams of sugar.

Posted by Chantelle Janelle