Thursday, April 14, 2005

Less Sugar?

Remember Chocolate Covered Sugar Bombs? You probably do if you ever read the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. Every morning, young Calvin would polish off a large bowl of CCSBs, and then set out with his tiger, Hobbes, to wreak havoc on the neighborhood. There's not much question about what Calvin's opinion would be of the latest "reduced sugar" trend in children's cereal. Just imagine the front of a box of Chocolate Covered Sugar Bombs with a banner that reads: "Now with reduced sugar!" Inconceivable. On paper, less sugar looks like a good idea. Just about anything that would reduce the sugar content of the average kid's diet would be a step in the right direction. Unless, of course, it's all smoke and mirrors. The Associated Press recently asked a panel of nutrition scientists to examine six major brands of cereal that now advertise reduced-sugar versions of their products. The verdict: The new products have less sugar content, but in terms of nutrition they're virtually the same because the cereals contain more refined carbohydrates. And why more carbs? Got to love this: To make the cereals crunchy. If you're a child, that makes perfect sense. Ask any eight-year-old: What's more important, fewer carbs or good crunch? Ninety-nine out of 100 third graders agree: Carbs, schmarbs - the Froot Loops have GOT to crunch. The line from the AP article that most impressed me was this one: "Refined carbohydrates act exactly the same as sugar in the body." Considering all the hype we hear about carbohydrates these days, it's amazing that you rarely see the basic problem with refined carbs stated so clearly.

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