On a visit to the Caribbean, you may have a chance to sample sugarcane. One taste of the fibrous stalk and you realize that you’re getting a little sweetness and a lot of water. The sugar content is easily definable: not much. Transpose yourself to your local Canadian supermarket and read the labels of packaged products. Chances are you’re seeing sugar from many hard-to-define sources. There’s fructose, sucrose, maltose and dextrose; syrups; juices and concentrates; sugar that’s raw, cane, inverted and brown. All this sugar is found in a massive number of popular products, the staples of many North American diets. But unless you’re a diligent scientist, you can’t always locate it.
Sugar-sweetened drinks are everywhere, from soft drinks to fruit and energy drinks. You know there’s sugar is in your beverage and you’re usually fine with it. But chances are you don’t have a full appreciation of just how much sugar is in your liquid treat. The Harvard School of Public Health knows. They say soft drinks “are a prime source of extra calories that can contribute to weight gain and provide no nutritional benefits.” What’s more, they cause “people to continue to feel hungry after drinking them despite their high caloric value.” Coca Cola may be the biggest offender when it comes to sugar count, but many bottled iced teas, lemonades, fruit juices and energy drinks aren’t far behind.