I recently saw Katie Couric and Stephanie Soechtig’s new food documentary, Fed Up an I completely agree on the message of it; we are too dependent on sugar in this country. We put it in everything, bread, yogurt, everything.
My concern is how we as consumers and marketers will respond to this.
The first that I hope we don’t do this time around is scapegoating. Yes, the amount of processed sugar we eat is contributing to our poor health an it should be controlled better, but it’s one of many factors, including lack of exercise, eating too many meals away from home, sodium intake, etc.
King of the Hill did an episode a while ago titled “Trans-Facism.” In it, Bill cuts out all trans-fats, but continues to eat terribly. The gag is, he was gaining weight and couldn’t figure out why. The episode really points out the problems with scapegoating one aspect of our food; we don’t get healthier.
Ladies and gentleman, let’s not forget how the sugar got there in the first place; it got there because we made the food companies remove trans-fats, so they added sugar. If Fed Up really takes off, we should expect to see a wave of food marketers trying to capitalize on the fad with a wave of sugar-free products (most of which, by the way are really “no sugar added” not sugar-free). But again, this isn’t where the issue lies, the issue doesn’t lie in eating sugar-free cookies (which probably have the sugar replaced with chemicals anyway, making them actually less healthy), but the fact that we need to cut down on cookies.
I’m recommending our food marketing response be to take-out the excess sugar and go to a no-sugar added model. No-sugar added bread, no-sugar added crackers, no-sugar added yogurt. This will still accomplish the goal of selling more, but in a productive-for-our-society way. As consumers, I’m recommending we take a good hard look at what we can do, including reducing our sugar intake, to improve our health.