Sweet proposal takes shape

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It’s not unusual for dietitians or homemakers to suggest in certain recipes calling for sugar to cut back on the amount – the finished product will turn out fine and it will still be sufficiently sweet. Plus, think of all the extra, empty calories you’ve saved you and your family from.

Food manufacturers don’t necessarily have any great incentive to cut back, but upcoming changes to labelling requirements from Health Canada will at least give consumers a better opportunity to know what they’re getting.

The proposed changes would see nutrition tables include both total sugars and added sugars.

It can be misleading – meaning a consumer might well be getting more than they bargained for in a product. An easy-to-follow nutritional label could be an eye-opener.

In announcing the proposed changes Monday, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said all types of sugars would be grouped together – and they do come in many forms, both natural sources and refined. They add up. As Ambrose said, a prime example might be a parent wanting to know how much sugar in total is on their children’s breakfast cereal.

With ever-growing concerns about people’s health, the greater incidence of obesity among young and old and how diet contributes, this is a worthwhile endeavour.

Helping draft these new requirements, there will be a series of online, public consultations on the proposals, to run until Sept. 11.

With concerns about a population drifting more and more into overweight categories, nutrition experts and other health professionals have been encouraging shoppers to pay closer attention to labels.

We’re hearing frequent calls to place more pressure on food manufacturers regarding ingredients: to cut down on sugar content, salt and trans-fats, for example. Considering the higher proportions of prepared foods people are eating, that’s never been more crucial.

The flip side of this, though, is consumers have to make the effort to educate themselves on wiser choices.

Organizations: Health Canada

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