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Sugar makes a comeback aided by "PR." (sugar industry turns to public relations experts to increase sugar consumption)

Sugar Makes A Comeback Aided By "PR"

Skillful public relations (PR) professionals can cosmeticize terrorist nations so that the world community will think of them as benefactors, or at least benign. They can turn merchandising disasters (product errors and poison-in-packages) into forgotten or forgiven catastrophes. With such a record for causing amnesia among consumers, is there any wonder that the sugar industry has turned to public relations experts to increase sugar consumption?

Sugar is now being touted as not only a "natural" product, but healthful compared to sugar substitutes, and by implication a wholesome addition to the diet. With so much diversion coming from scares surrounding alcohol, tobacco, cholesterol and salt, there is the likelihood that sugar's role in dental problems, nutritional deficiencies, and its contribution to high triglycerides will be overlooked.

A new study soon to be released links sugar intake with hyperactivity in children. Will that sobering information slow down the return of sugar in consumer preference? Probably not. Over 20,000 products in the supermarkets contain sugar. With the market's flirtation with "lite" sugar products booming, the public seems to be hopelessly infatuated with its sweetness.

Later this year the Food and Drug Administration is expected to hand down uniform guidelines for nutritional labeling on food packages. One of the issues awaiting resolution is how to list the amount of sugars in the multitude of products which contain the substance. As consumers hear the siren song from advertising necromancers, "pure," "natural" sugar may even evolve smelling sweeter than ever!

When the American Dietetic Association interviewed consumers about health threats in the food supply, and they were asked to identify those foods considered unsafe, the results in sugar's favor were astounding.

Asked what diet changes they would make for health reasons, 21% named fatty foods, 14% indicated cholesterol containing foods, 10% considered meat dangerous, 8% would avoid fried foods, 5% resolved to give up eggs, 4% would cut down on dairy, 3% would avoid salt. Only 3% considered sugar villainous enough to discard! Few in the survey understood that high-fructose corn syrup was essentially sugar and that brown sugar was artificially colored white sugar.

Various other surveys revealed that the public is not aware, nor has concern, that products promoted as healthful are high in added sugar. Peanut butter, in several brands, contains 1.2 grams of sugar per 16 grams (7.5%). Cereal companies positioning their cereals as healthful contain as much as 39% sugar (Cocoa Puffs). Quaker Oat's Cap'n Crunch, a best-seller, sports 42% sugar. Bigg Mix weighs in at 28% sugar.

Conversely, many brands have found success in the sugar-laden market by actually eliminating refined sugar from their recipes. The substitute sweetener in most such products is derived from fruit juices.

Not so noble are the packagers who proclaim "sugar free!" but unabashedly use chemical sweeteners that are regarded with suspicion by concerned nutritionists. The low-calorie sugar substitutes are: saccarin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, alitame, and cyclamate (once banned, but now petitioned by its makers, Abbott Laboratories, to be reapproved by the Food and Drug Administration.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1990
Words:509
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