Published : 04/13/2018
After having looked at hidden sugars in the previous article, this one aims to focus on the hypocrisy of alternative low-sugar products, preferably termed “light” products. Given that sugar is more and more condemned by a rising part of our population, the demand for “light-products” with artificial sweeteners is booming. Yet we are running the risk of falling victim to today’s food industry and the illusion that it sells. While science reveals that some of those ingredients used as sugar substitutes may even be cancerogenic.
We all know the trick question “Coke or Coke light”? Those who chose the latter say no to sugar and therefore prove their discipline in acting in favour of their health and body. However, alternatives don’t market and sell well if they don’t taste equally good. Because our rising health-conscious population that more and more centres their life’s around staying lean, fit and beautiful wouldn’t want to feel excluded from today’s luxuries. Thus, we are witnessing an exploding health food market with all sorts of products claiming to be sugar-free, based on a promise that they will offer the same satisfaction but with the bonus of keeping us slim. The fact that they have to be fortified with sufficient alternative sweetening agents to produce the same degree of sweetness and therefore can hardly be considered more healthy than before, remains unquestioned. And so we accept and buy without even considering the chemistry and potential risks of artificial sweeteners.
A study done by the University of Texas that took place over a period of 10 years and examined 474 people who regularly consumed diet-lemonades showed that the body-mass-index of those drinking coca cola Light increased by 70% more than for those drinking “regular” sugared lemonades. However, the ugly truth that regular sugar-coke may potentially lead to less body weight increase than its light version, is hard to grasp. Though we have to ask ourselves, why a rising part of our society suffers from obesity, despite the increased offer of low-calorie foods. According to one theory, we compensate so called “empty calories” and therefore end up eating more instead of less. Another one says that our body metabolizes sugars and artificial sweeteners differently. Aspartam for example, the artificial sweetener found in coke-zero and others, makes us more hungry. Apparently, they trigger our reward centre in different ways and artificial sweeteners were found to leave us less satisfied.
The green revolution is in full swing and coca cola and others are under deep pressure to swim along. “Coca Cola Life” shines with its green design and uses plant-based stevia instead of sugar to reach out to all those who have decided to stay on a permanent diet throughout the rest of their lifes. Stevia is presented as the agent with the duty to transform coca cola’s image and attribute more health and natural sweetness. Because stevia extracts are not being absorbed as nutrients into our blood circulation, they don’t add any calories and thus do not lead to an increase in our blood sugar level. Although the “green coke”, thanks to stevia, only contains 34 grams of sugar per half a litre, i.e. instead of the 18 cubes of sugar in regular coke only 11 cubes, it still exceeds the recommended amount of sugar per day as put forward by the World Health Organization WHO (namely 25 grams for women and 30 grams for men). So despite the fact that the green coke evokes a different image in our consumers’ minds, they can still safely be considered a sugar bomb..
So instead of falling into the trap of diet products, we should rather focus our minds on a regular healthy diet and on doing sport – it’s the healthiest and effective way of staying in good shape and spirit!