You’re Eating Way More Sugar Than You Think
You’re Eating Way More Sugar Than You Think
And, you should probably try to stop. ‘That Sugar Film’ exposes the truth about how much sugar we’re eating, and what it’s doing to our bodies and brains. (Maybe skip the theatre-sized bag of Twizzlers when watching this one.)
Picture this: You’re sitting down to breakfast, aiming to start your day with some healthy, nutritious fuel. You fill up a bowl with a fibre-packed muesli cereal, top it with a few scoops of low-fat yogurt, and pour yourself a tall glass of organic apple juice… all good choices, right? Wrong. You, my well-intentioned friend, just served up about 20 teaspoons worth of sugar.
This exact scene plays out in Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau’s kitchen on the first day of his new diet, in the documentary That Sugar Film. Gameau—an actor and reformed sugar addict who had been living sugar-free for three years (after weaning himself off a serious Vanilla Coke addiction)—set out to introduce sugar back into his diet for a period of 60 days to see how it would affect his body.
But, rather than going full-‘Super Size Me’ and subsisting on obvious junk food, Gameau decided his diet would consist only of foods generally perceived and marketed as healthy (no ice cream, soda pop, chocolate, or candy), and would keep his sugar consumption in line with the Australian average: 40 teaspoons per day.
The results are astounding. Despite keeping his daily calorie intake at 2,300—exactly the same as it was pre-filming—Gameau two month-long sugar experiment caused him to gain 8.5 kilograms (that’s over 18 pounds), and added 10 centimeters (almost 4 inches) to his waistline. Also new on his medical charts: signs of fatty liver disease, and risk factors for high cholesterol.
The film balances investigate research a dose of humour. Among the food for thought provided: a historical overview of sugar’s place in humans’ diet; a chemistry lesson in the breakdown of types of sugars (Spoiler: Beware most of fructose—it’s currently thought to be the culprit behind most sugar-induced medical concerns), biological explanations of how it effects our bodies and brains; interviews with doctors, scientists and researchers; and a look at the government lobbying by food industry heavyweights.
Plenty of if-they-weren’t-funny-they’d-be-sad moments are found throughout the film. A particularly effective, and hilarious, sequence: Gameau, seeking to illustrate the absurd amounts of sugar hidden in packaged foods, eats a dinner of chicken sprinkled with four teaspoons of granulated white sugar—rather than the half-package of teriyaki sauce one might normally pour over it—washed down with a glass of sugar water—eight teaspoons for two cups, just like the bottle of sport-boosting Powerade he’d planned on. And for dessert? A sandwich of two wafer biscuits stuffed with a mouthful of sugar cubes—it’s equal to the sugar found in a ‘healthy’ cereal bar, after all.
An example for the film’s slightly darker humour: A super-cut of Gameau’s manic delirium and dazed lethargy as he goes through the highs and lows of insulin spikes and blood sugar crashes, realizing the emotional and mental rollercoaster he’s embarked on, and the slumping withdrawal he suffers through when getting back off it at the experiment’s conclusion.
The film opens in select theatres July 11, and it’s a must watch if you’re about how your sugar consumption could be effecting your health—and even more so if you’re not.
In line with the film’s message to be aware of hidden sugar in supposedly healthy foods, we rounded up a list of popular grab-and-go and packaged foods where it might be worth double-checking the nutrition labels on.
• Quaker’s Healthy-sounding Harvest Quinoa Yogurt, Fruit & Nut Granola Bars have 10 grams of sugar each—that’s double the amount in its Chewy Cocoa Chocolate Swirl Granola Bars (5 g).
• PC’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna , from its healthfully marketed Blue Menu line, has 10 grams of sugar per serving. The more decadent PC Dine-In Tonight Meat Lasagna Topped with Creamy Béchamel Sauce ? Just 3 grams.
• Believe it or not, a tall Starbucks Green Tea Latte (41 g) has the exact same amount of sugar as an equally sized Caramel Frappuccino (without the whipped cream). Would you have guessed?
• Campbell's Chunky Baked Potato with Cheddar & Bacon Bits Soup may be higher in fat, but at 3 grams of sugar per serving, it has five times less than the brand’s Healthy Request Home Style Tomato Basil Soup (15 g).
• Surprisingly, Astro Smooth & Fruity Vanilla Yogurt (21 g) is actually slightly higher in sugar than the brand's dessert-like Caramel Natural Yogurt (19 g)
• At Panera, a Pumpkin Muffin delivers a whopping 53 grams (!) of sugar. Choose a Pecan Braid Pastry instead, complete with croissant dough and pecan filling, and an icing glaze, and you’ll be getting just 23 grams.