November 8, 2008

FNCE 2008/Say What?: The Sweet Stuff Hits A Sour Note

In a perfect example of "reaching," The Sugar Association's booth at the 2008 American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo offered a variety of pamphlets, including one titled "Sugar's Healing Powers."

"There is no doubt that 'sugar' tastes good and, therefore in our guilt-ridden society, it is commonly assumed that 'sugar must not be good for us," the awkwardly written information sheet begins.

"Nothing could be further from the truth -- sugar is one of Mother Nature's most miraculous creations," it continues.

The argument here is that as far back as 1700 BC, sugar has been used to treat wounds.

The document quotes three studies -- all concluding that sugar exerts antibacterial effects on wounds and promotes faster healing.

Technically true, but how is that relevant in a society where the problem is the massive amounts of sugar people are putting down their throats?

Furthermore, what is the purpose of mentioning sugar's wound healing properties in hospital settings at a nutrition conference?

In another bizarre move, The Sugar Association provided some recipes (with the comma-less grammatically incorrect title "a little sugar can make healthy nutritious foods taste better") that left me perplexed.

Here is a perfect example -- adding sugar to a breakfast shake made of orange juice concentrate, milk, and a banana. Huh??

I am by no means a "sugar is the devil" advocate, but suggesting the addition of sugar to already sweet fruits and promoting its wound healing powers to nutrition professionals seems like a misguided PR move.

Their tagline ("Make an informed choice. Choose pure natural sugar -- 15 calories per teaspoon,") also does not sit well with me.

While putting a teaspoon or three of sugar into your coffee every morning (or enjoying an ice cream cone every Saturday night) is by no means a problem, sugar is calorically identical to other caloric sweeteners.

They ALL offer 14 - 16 calories per tablespoon.

I am not exactly sure what "informed choice" consumers are making by adding two teaspoons of sugar -- rather than that same amount of honey -- to a cup of tea.

I don't even understand why The Sugar Association is present at a nutrition conference to begin with.


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Anonymous said...

One would hope that all those nutrition professionals who attended the ADA conference would see through all of this marketing. Maybe marketing classes should be added to dietetics curricula nationwide to ensure this... because... I worry.