Action on Sugar believes that reductions in sugar added to prepared foods will be largely unnoticed but can have a significant effect on obesity.
As with the salt initiative, manufacturers will be asked to voluntarily reduce added sugars in their products and to offer more reduced sugar alternatives. But a major part of the campaign must be through education -- letting consumers know the effects of a high-sugar diet and teaching them how to cut back.
For most Americans, beverages are the major source of added sugar. Switching to fruit or energy drinks is not much of an improvement in terms of calories. And even 100 percent fruit juice does not offer the nutritional benefits of the fruit itself since the fiber has been removed.
Diet sodas free you of the sugar and calories, but they don't take away your sweet tooth. And you might be tempted to satisfy your desires later in the day with a piece of candy. Sweeteners also tend to deplete the body of chromium, a nutrient necessary for blood sugar metabolism.
You may consider yourself virtuous if you skip dessert most nights after dinner. But how about the sugary snacks you had during the day?
There is no need to deprive yourself of all sweets, but pay attention to what you're eating. And set some limits for yourself.
Learn to look for "total sugars" on the label. If you divide the number of grams by four, that gives you the number of teaspoons.
Foods that you don't consider sweet may have considerably more sugar than you suspect. These include yogurt, bologna, tomato soup, pretzels, Worcestershire sauce, packaged bread, salad dressing, tomato sauce, and cheese spread. Many products sold as low-fat come with added sugar.
Know the names commonly used on labels to describe added sugars: corn syrup, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, invert sugar, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup.
Brown sugar, turbinado sugar, cane sugar, raw sugar, organic sugar -- they are all sugar.
If sugar isn't listed first among ingredients, it may well be that the total sugar content is hidden behind several of these names.
Finally, the best way to avoid sugar -- and the best way to eat--is to buy fresh foods, then prepare them and cook them yourself ... using only as much sugar as is required for flavor and nutrition. But not too much.
This information was submitted by Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury and is meant to complement, not replace the advice and care you receive from your health care provider.