I noticed the other day (whilst indulging in my usual passion) that Starbucks have changed their shelf edge product labelling and are now displaying the sugar content of their pastries in grams.
This has been available for some time on their website (link) but it’s the first time I’ve seen it explicitly stated at the point of sale.
It’s quite an arresting thing to see if (like me) you’re paranoid about hidden sugars and carbohydrates in foods. I’ve been a victim of diabetes, and although it’s currently in remission I’m always afraid it will return.
Starbucks appear to have no fear though. They’re racing full speed ahead to sugarpocalypse…
If you decide to have some luxury fruit toast then you’re choosing to eat an insane 39g of sugar!
Thankfully these days I’m an idle spectator, and you’ll find me shaking my head with disapproval in the queue for a black coffee rather than eating anything like this.
Although I no longer consume things like this anymore (I used to adore the fruit toast) the hidden sugars in foods are a scandal that’s just sitting in plain sight – and we as a society appear to have little willingness to tackle the problem.
Although putting clear indications of what food contains on product labelling helps people who want to take action it’s (in my view) quite cynical – because as a society we’re largely ignoring the damage we’re doing to ourselves.
I noticed not so long ago that all of a sudden the calorie content of the Starbucks’ pastries went up rather than down. When I mentioned this to a barista I was informed that they’d changed supplier for these items and as a consequence many of them had become less healthy. It seemed that taste was the primary consideration, with healthy eating being a distant second.
It’s all very well to highlight sugars on labelling (and I applaud moves to do so) but surely by now there should be a legislative approach to limiting them – especially when there are alternatives such as Stevia which do far less damage.
(For those interested there are quite a few different ways to sweeten foods – although not all are necessarily healthier – link)
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sugar for an adult male is still a contentious issue and the NHS (Link) suggests a higher amount is ok (30g) compared to the volume that the World Health Organization would have you consume (25g link).
The UK’s health service website states:
Added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of the energy (calorie intake) you get from food and drink each day. This is about 30g of sugar a day for those aged 11 and over.
Even then according to the UK guidance the aforementioned fruit toast (without the accompanying pot of jam) is way over what people should be eating in a snack – and that doesn’t even factor in what’s lurking around within the beverage that would probably accompany it.
Drinks in particular are also a big problem. If you want a shocking visual image of what people can absorb in a few tasty gulps then a quick Google search will result in lots of pictures just like this one.
Coffee shops aren’t much better than canned drinks (in some cases they’re far worse) and there was recently a feeding frenzy in the media regarding this exact subject.
There’s no one chain thats worse than another though and the trend for sickly sweet frothy stuff seems to be common to all of them.
I suspect that at 68.8g of sugar for a Costa Mint Hot Chocolate most people’s sweet tooth would be satisfied several times over.
If you followed the W.H.O.’s guidance that’s almost THREE DAYS worth of sugar being pushed into your body in less than the time it takes to catch up on your Instagram feed.
So – what if you decide to not go to a coffee shop and stay at home instead?
Maybe cook a nice meal and steer clear of sugar?
How about using a ready made sauce to speed things along?
It may surprise you to learn that some popular pasta sauces (which come in 500g sizes) contain the same amount of sugar as a Mars Bar (42.6g)…
At the end of the day it sadly still comes down to personal choice – and although I fully support self determinism and the right to make our own decisions in life (be they good or bad) I feel that there’s an uncomfortable tension that still exists for me around what choice really means.
Do we REALLY choose?
Companies that push sugar, alcohol, nicotine and other addictive substances make vast profits from what they sell and they use them to fund advertising – particularly to the younger generation – in order to ensure that these profits continue.
I wonder what it will take internet before we all truly wake up to the disaster that’s unfolding before our eyes.
How many limbs will have to be amputated because of diabetes, how many cancers will happen because of obesity, and how many people will die of completely preventable diseases before we collectively realise that that the chocolate bar, cake or latte that we think we can’t do without is actually slowly killing us?