Two of the beautiful, smart campaigns again excess sugar intake are:
Cereal FACTS - Debunking all types of sweetened and unhealthy cereal and cereal products, especially those advertised for children. You can find top and bottom 10 lists of cereals by brands. Their information target both consumers and researchers with reports stating what is most advertised to children and which brands contain the most sugar content so let's hope they're not being lobbied by any side! You can heck their website here
Soda Free Summer - Urges people to 'Rethink their drink' by fighting added sugars whether in carbonated beverages or other sweetened juices and drinks! Most people don't realize that they tend to gulp their calories in. In fact, half on the American population over the age of 2 consume sugary drinks everyday! Soda Free Summer explains how much calories and sugar various contain nowadays, how much exercise you need to burn them off, the unhealthy toxic effects of excess sugar intake as well as beneficial school tools. You can check their website , their twitter and their facebook page.
So why do we really care about added sugars?
Sugar increases tooth decay
Promotes weight gain
Acidifies your blood, such that your body will need to extract some minerals from your bones to buffer that acidity!
Increases triglycerides and therefore, increasing the risk of heart diseases and inflammation
Decreases your immune system by acting as a substrate for bacteria in your body
Increases the risk of skin aging , a much less famous crime
Some sugars like HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) have been linked to increased risk of abdominal fat, increased insulin resistance and diabetes type 2, increased metabolic syndrome, fatty liver and increased LDL cholesterol.
More research is leaning towards increasing the risk of cancer as well.
People who consume large amounts of added sugars tend to eat less nutritious food, resulting in poor nutrition as well as vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
Last but not least, very recent research links high sugar (mainly high fructose corn syrup - HFCS) intake to stupidity! High HFCS intake may highly affect the mind's long term ability to learn and remember!
But why do they even add sugar to food?
Sugar tend to preserve foods, increase fermentation, give pastries and baked goods texture, add a unique flavor to foods [especially that we tend to prefer sweet tastes innately], and yea, because it's addictive so you'll definitely come back for more!
1- Know the different names of sugar!Sugar can be simply called sugar/brown sugar, or its gazillion alternative tricky names from dextran, fructose, glucose, lactose, galactose, molasses, invert sugar, sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, barley malt, maltose, maltodextrin, honey, agave nectar, cane, cane juice crystals, caramel, maple syrup, sorghum syrup, turbinado, treacle, muscovado, panocha - some of which I can't even recognize!
2- Check what ONE serving is! What manufacturers tend to do is mention how much calories, nutrients, sugars, vitamins, etc. there are per serving. But what consumers tend to think is that a whole package is one serving - and it's almost always NOT.
So let's take a look at the photo on the right. First, check what one serving is, in green. 1 serving is referred to as 'Serving Size'. This serving has 26 g grams of sugar, as shown in pink. Now the actual package has 2.5 servings, not just one, so do the math!
3- Know the linguistics
Sugar-free: there must be less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.
No added sugars/ Without added sugar is used if no sugar was added during processing
Reduced/less sugar is used when there is at least 25% less than a similar reference food so it doesn't mean it is low in sugar!
4- Know the ingredients' order
So when you check your label, which I'm hoping you will from now on, know that ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. On the right, you can find a coke's label where you can see that the 2nd ingredient is HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)!
Sugar can definitely harm you , just like tobacco and alcohol so it must be regulated! Why isn't it regulated, you ask? Well, because the industry is making huge profits from their 'suga-baby' and taxing it would lead to less profit! In fact, in a report by the USDA ( pdf file ), taxing sweetened beverages could end up in decreasing total caloric intake and an estimate of 2 kilograms of adult and child weight per year, aiding in decreasing the worldwide epidemic obesity.
And no, don't go saying that sugar will give you the energy you need! Excess sugar intake will definitely increase your blood sugar steeply, only to cause a quick drastic decrease causing hypoglycemia - characterized by fatigue, nervousness, sweating, hunger and trembling! So pledge to start decreasing your intake gradually - you will benefit greatly!