The previous post about taxing sugary beverages got me to thinking about just how much sugar (both natural and added) is packed into some of the things we eat and drink. Of course we all realize things like soda pop, cookies, and Cap’n Crunch are sugary junk food. But do you realize just how much sugar? And do you realize that many seemingly “healthy” items are laden with similar amounts of sugar?
Unless you read food labels and pay very close attention the answer is probably “no”. Part of the problem is in the way nutrition is presented to us. Sugar is always measured in grams…not a unit of measurement most of us can visualize.
If we’ve educated ourselves, we would realize that 77 grams of sugar in a 20 oz. Mountain Dew is a lot of sugar. But what does that number mean? Let’s put it in terms that are easier to relate to. If that was a cup of coffee, you would need to add almost 20 cubes of sugar to match the content in the soda!
Here is a website that uses the sugar cube scale to show the content of many common foods and beverages: sugarstacks.com
It doesn’t differentiate between added and natural sugars, and there are some things there that might surprise some of you. Did you know there’s more sugar per ounce in a Jamba Juice Sunrise Banana Berry than in Coca-Cola? Or more sugar in a Health Valley organic strawberry breakfast bar than in a serving of Trix or Cap’n Crunch cereal?
Perhaps that might be why the soda industry feels that they’re being picked on, and why developing a tax on all things sugary might prove to be a little complicated.
Here’s the formula to help you remember sugar content: 4 grams is equal to a teaspoon (or a cube). So the next time you pull into McDonald’s and order that medium chocolate shake with 111 grams of sugar, you can do the math and divide 111 by 4 and…oh forget it; you don’t really care, do you?