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KIND encourages Food Industry to reveal hidden sugars

10 April 2019 | News

'Sweeteners Uncovered' pop-up and online index discloses disguised ingredients in America's favorite snacks

KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND) is bringing more transparency to the prevalent use of sweeteners in today's popular snack foods. To kick-start the educational journey, KIND – which has long disclosed the sugar in its snacks – recently unveiled an augmented reality installation and online database that showcase the multitude of different sweeteners and sugar sources hidden in top-selling snacks.

The pop-up display comes at a time when sweeteners and sugar sources are more rampant in snacks than ever. Nearly 75% of packaged foods and drinks in the U.S. contain a sugar or low-calorie sweetener, according to a study in The Lancet. In a survey fielded by Washington DC-based Morning Consult, 41% of respondents say when they read a food label, they don't understand which ingredients are sweeteners.

"While peoples' focus surrounding sweeteners is increasing, there's little understanding of how to identify them on food labels," says Stephanie Csaszar, Registered Dietitian and Health & Wellness Expert at KIND. "How can we expect consumers to know that hydrogenated starch is a mixture of sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and maltitol or that sucanat is a less-refined version of cane sugar? Through this effort, we aim to bring greater awareness to the 100+ name variations and types of sweeteners and sugar sources found in foods that individuals might not realize they're consuming daily."

For years, snack categories such as energy and snack bars, yogurt, cereal and granola have been perceived as overall healthy destinations, but KIND's pop-up display and online database revealed that many options in those aisles have sweetener content at similar levels to that in desserts & frozen treats. For example, some energy bars are comprised of more than 30% sugar. "Added sweeteners are masters of disguise and most Americans consume too much from all the various forms," says Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RDN, California State University, Sacramento. "I teach this to hundreds of my undergraduate students each year as one of my take home points."

The 'Sweeteners Uncovered' pop-up shop will leverage augmented-reality technology to not only highlight the total sugar content of some of America's favorite snacks, but also the obscure sweetener names that they are hiding behind.

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