I was very surprised to see an article on the front page of the local newspaper yesterday regarding sugar intake. Well done Thailand for exposing the dangers of excessive sugar intake. The article noted:
Intense competition in the carbonated-drink market has raised concerns among health experts that excessive consumption of sugary beverages will result in increased incidence of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases, especially among children.
They have urged the government to increase the tax on sugary beverages and to introduce measures to limit their consumption in schools.
The reason I was surprised is two-fold, firstly that the Department of Health is not only focusing on the dangers of sugar but also managed to get an article on the front page of a local newspaper, and secondly I couldn’t believe that they managed this when the sugar cartels have so much power. Sugar is huge business in Thailand with it being one of the main crops produced. The sugar cartels are so rich and powerful (which means in a corrupt society they are above the law) that they have managed to get sugar added to just about every food group. Want to buy some non-sweetened bread? Impossible at local stores. Want to buy some natural unsweetened fruit juice? Impossible at local stores. Unsweetened milk? Again – very difficult. About 10 years ago one of the cartels was placed under administration due to some shady business deals. Price Waterhouse bought in a senior auditor from Australia to investigate. The auditor obviously had no idea about the power behind these businesses, and after having uncovered something which would cause someone senior to lose face, ended up being murdered in a drive by shooting. You don’t mess with these guys.
So well done Thailand, and The Nation newspaper! Interestingly, the article says that the Department of Health recommends a maximum daily sugar intake of 32 grams (about 8 teaspoons of sugar). However most cans of soda (e.g. Coke, Pepsi) contain up to 12 teaspoons of sugar! Yes, just one can will put you over your daily limit! How many people know that? How many people order one of those large cokes at McDonalds, which holds more than a can? We are inundated with too much sugar.
By the way, diet soda is much better than regular soda since naturally it doesn’t have sugar. Some people (usually those justifying their need to drink regular soda) will cry out that diet soda is just as bad as regular soda, has as many calories, or has horrible chemical sweeteners that will harm you or even cause cancer! That is garbage! For more information read my post here where scientists researched that those drinking regular soda were much more unhealthy after a year than those drinking diet (non-sugar) soda. Also, for more researched information on the dangers of sugar read my post here.
Personally I read the labels of anything I eat that may have sugar, and if it contains over 10 grams (2.5 teaspoons) then I won’t eat it. That is, I try and keep my meals to no sugar, or less than 10 grams maximum.
I challenge you to have a quick look at the “sugar” column of the food you are eating and see how many grams there are. Roughly 4 grams = 1 teaspoon. You will be shocked at how much sugar is in so called “fat-free” foods, especially yogurt. They try and make it seem healthy by claiming it is “fat-free” and instead making it super sweet by adding a ton of sugar. Which is worse, fat or sugar? Some people would have you believe it is fat, but really it is sugar. You need to take some healthy fats every day – it is vital for life. You can live without the sugar though.