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Why SUGARMARK is needed

In the market place sugar faces increasing challenges from alternative sweeteners. This challenge comes particularly from a new generation of effective and highly intense artificial sweeteners (Sucralose, Alitame,Neotame, etc) to which regulatory approval is either given or pending.

At the same time the unjustified implication that sugar is causal in obesity, leading to serious ill health, is creating pressure by national authorities for a reduction in sugar consumption and reduced use by food and drink manufacturers.

The media is being used to inform consumers that sugar is an 'unhealthy' food, and sugar containing foods and drinks are being criticised and held responsible for childhood obesity.

In this hostile market environment it is essential that positive messages about sugar, which are factual and scientifically supported, are disseminated. The Sugarmark can be a signature for messages drawing attention to the many qualities of sugar.

Thus Sugarmark provides the sugar business with a means of demonstrating both its responsibility, as the producer of a useful carbohydrate food, and confidence in its product.

Low-Carb: further food for thought...

A few years ago the cry was "low-fat" or "non-fat," as new food products came on the market, positioned to appeal to the weight-conscious and health-conscious.

The latest craze is now low-carb – and people interested in losing weight not only have the option of avoiding carbohydrate foods, but can now purchase a range of low carbohydrate diet products, which are hitting supermarket shelves in droves.

Recent months have seen the launch of a carbreduced ice cream from a British company called Go Lower – which uses a non sugar sweetener and more fruit, two breakfast cereals by the specialist producer Carbolite (which is using more nuts, and replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners) and a new chocolate bar with added nuts from another transatlantic lowcarb producer, Atkins Nutritional.

In addition, an increasing number of famousname products are being reformulated, or rebranded, with the aim of getting a slice of the low-carb market. Food producers that are leading this trend include... Coca Cola, Heinz, Nestlé Rowntree, Pepsi Cola, Unilever and British Bakeries.

Low-carb products maintain their sweetness by replacing standard sugars with polyols - also called "sugar alcohols". Polyols are a form of carbohydrate but the manufacturers say that they do not affect blood sugar levels and therefore do not count towards the "net effective carb" total.

However - according to The Guardian - it could be that the demand for low-carb products declines as fast as it grew. In the US, people's interest in low-carb already seems to be diminishing. A survey by bankers Morgan Stanley discovered that the number of US adults on a low-carb lifestyle fell from 12% during the first quarter of this year to 10% during the second quarter - and it forecasts that the decline will continue.

Regardless of the fate for low-carb foods, this is still an important issue for the sugar industry – making it even more vital to promote the qualities of sugar as a functional and versatile ingredient.

Sources:
* The Guardian 'carb your enthusiasm' 24.10.04 – author Sean McAllister.
* Mintel reports 2004

The Glycaemic Index – A New Dietary Approach!

Glycaemic Index is a ranking of how different carbohydrate foods affect blood glucose levels.

Some carbohydrates, such as short grain rice, potatoes, and puffed or flaked breakfast cereals, cause a sudden rise in blood glucose levels, while wholegrain bread, fruit, dairy products, oats, lentils and beans cause a slow rise in blood glucose levels. Sucrose causes a moderate rise in blood glucose levels which explains why current medical advice to people with diabetes is that they can use some sugar in their diet. *

Recent health advice in The Sunday Times** suggests that following a low-GI diet means that children will be eating fewer foods containing sugar and fat, such as sweets and crisps, and replacing them with more nutrient-packed ones, such as fruit and nuts. Such foods are claimed to more naturally control hunger and appetite.

For example, research has found that children eating a low-GI breakfast of porridge then consumed about 600 calories at lunchtime, compared with about 750 calories on days when they had a high-GI breakfast of white bread and corn flakes.

Eating a low-GI diet has been vested with much nutritional merit. In terms of encouraging dietary variety, some of this could be justified.

Although sucrose is a medium-GI food, this should not lull the sugar industry into thinking this trend is not damaging. Low-GI dieters are also urged to cut out sugar as a part of a general reduction in carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrates, which this dietary approach encourages. The low G-I method of eating is being especially recommended for overweight children because it is optimistically claimed that children will then eat fewer foods which include sugar and fat. In fact, it is held that the very nature of low-GI eating automatically reduces the calories consumed. At a time when there is much concern about increasing numbers of children being overweight, this is seen as a major advantage. It does not, however, address what is probably the main cause of this trend which is lack of physical activity. Children are not suddenly eating more, but they are certainly less active.

Thus the challenge for the sugar industry is to educate consumers about GI foods because this is not a restrictive diet and can accommodate the fact that sugar can play a key role in helping dietary balance and variety. This is a message which should be reinforced.

Sources:
* Brand-Miller J et al (1996). The G.I. Factor, The Glycaemic Index Solution. Hodder Headline, Australia.
** The Sunday Times Style Magazine - Author: Amanda Ursell – 24.10.04

Association Internationale de la Marque du Sucre
Avenue de Tervuren, 182 - B 1150 Bruxelles
Tel: 32 2 762 07 60
Fax: 32 2 771 00 26
e-mail: somerville@cefs.be
http://www.sugarmark.org
Editor Mr Graham Somerville

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