There is big money in processed foods, especially the fast food and soda pop industries, and the documentary Fed Up exposes the big, sugar coated, cover up. I highly recommend watching it, but be prepared to be challenged and outrage by what you see.
I'm not ready to give up sugar in all of its forms, but soda pop is definitely one I do not miss -- I gave it up over a year ago, and will not ever go back on that wagon. I am willing to make the bold statement that sugary drinks, including fruit juice, are the largest contributors to the obesity epidemic in North America. Yes, even 100% fruit juice is a contributing factor.
Of course we should not confuse whole fruit with fruit juice -- whole fruit is actually a form of sugar we should be trying to eat more of, since our bodies can handle the sugar and fiber together. It's when we remove the fiber, and process the sugars that our bodies can't handle the onslaught of sweetness -- it doesn't matter if it's High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), granulated sugar, raw sugar, or fruit juice.
The one point from this documentary that really resonated with me is the fact that big food has prevented the FDA from requiring food labels to list sugar content in the form of a percentage. All foods list the total grams of sugar per serving, but you will not find what percent of the recommended daily allowance that makes up. If most of us were to actually pay attention to those numbers, I think we would probably put a lot of the foods back on the shelves and not in our carts.
Most organizations that are genuinely interested in health recommend that a maximum of 10% of your daily caloric intake come from sugar. That means that for an adult male with a recommendation of a 2000 calorie diet, the maximum intake from sugar per day should be 200 calories, or 50 grams. To find the percentage, just look at the food label and muliply the grams of sugar by 2, and that is the percentage.
For example, the imitation maple syrup (that I'm ashamed to admit lives in our pantry) has 44 grams of sugar in a 1/4 cup serving; which means one serving contains 88% of your recommended daily allotment of sugar. A 12-oz. can of Pepsi has 41 grams of sugar, or 82% of your RDA. So a small amount of syrup at breakfast and one can of pop at lunch puts you at 170% of your daily allowance. Incidentally the real maple syrup has 50 grams of sugar per 1/4 cup serving, but at least it's not HFCS, right?
Throw in everything else in a typical American diet that has sugar added to it, and it's not hard to see how easily our diets end up containing 300-400% of the sugar we should be ingesting. It made me go through my pantry with a Sharpie and convert all the sugar content into percentage, just so I have a better idea of how much I'm eating.
Now, I'm not ready to give up the 3 teaspoons of raw sugar I have in my coffee every morning, but I am willing to look at how much I take in throughout the day, and continue cutting back if needed. There are 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon, so that puts me at 12% of my allotted intake right at the start of the day, but if I can keep the rest of the day under control, I'm fine with that.
ARE YOU FED UP? Watch the documentary, and make changes in your own life.