In today’s post-fact society, always read the label
Last week, a huge mound of sugar appeared in Times Square. This piece of educational art was installed to drive home the point that in America, every five minutes children consume 45,485 pounds of added sugar.
That’s a lot of sugar.
I’m all for promoting the dangers of sugars added to and hidden in food. But it did raise the question: who exactly were they trying to educate? What was really the message here?
I’ve been to Times Square. I love it. It’s hustle and bustle and, dare I say it, prime marketing real estate. This installation highlighting the dangers of added sugar comes not from any educational or government body. Nope, it comes from a food manufacturer.
KIND have a message that’s hard not to get behind. From their website:
“We believe if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it shouldn’t go into your body. Actually, it shouldn’t even go into your pantry. KIND® products are made from nutritionally-dense ingredients like whole nuts, fruits and whole grains – no secret ingredients and no artificial flavors, preservatives or sweeteners.”
However, this is where I get really frustrated with food companies being disingenuous when it comes to promoting healthy food. It’s true that the added sugar consumed by children is way above where it should be and where most parents probably believe it to be. But for many people, it is precisely the types of snacks made by KIND that cause the confusion. They’ve just launched a new range of snacking products, Fruit Bites. Let’s look at the description for the Mango Pineapple Apple version:
Our Mango Pineapple Apple Fruit Bites are made from only 3 simple ingredients and give you a delicious tropical fruit snack in every bite. We don’t use fruit juices, purees, concentrates or preservatives – so you can enjoy a fruit snack that’s actually made from real fruit. And with no sugar added and 1 full serving of fruit per pouch, it’s the perfect lunchbox snack.
Real fruit! That elusive serving! Perfect for the lunchbox! What parent trying to do the right thing wouldn’t go for that? However, let’s look at the nutrition label. Again, from their website:
Whilst it contains no added sugars, it still contains 11g per pouch of natural sugars. Which are, make no mistake about it, still sugar. At an 18g serving, that’s around 60% sugar.
Always be suspicious of marketing, especially when the message is wholesome and healthy. Even more so when that message is aimed at your kids.