To kick-start the educational journey, KIND unveiled an augmented reality installation and online database that showcase the multitude of different sweeteners and sugar sources hidden in top-selling snacks.
"There are more than 100 different names and types of sweeteners and sugar sources out there. Many of these are still foreign to me, and there's no doubt that consumers are also confused," says Daniel Lubetzky, Founder & CEO of KIND, in a press release. "When some of the top-selling snacks many people believe to be healthy have a similar sugar profile as a dessert, that's a problem. People deserve to know what they're eating."
The pop-up display comes at a time when sweeteners and sugar sources are more rampant in snacks than ever. Nearly 75 per cent 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 KIND-sponsored survey fielded by Washington DC-based Morning Consult, 41 per cent 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 in the same press release. "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-plus 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 per cent 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 in KIND’s press release. "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 favourite snacks, but also the obscure sweetener names that they are hiding behind.
The installation will be open to the general public at 579 Broadway in SoHo from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM EST on April 10 and tomorrow (April 11). The initiative and national index will also be available online at www.sweetenersuncovered.com.
Additional Morning Consult Survey Results
- 78 per cent of respondents couldn't identify the main difference between sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners.
- 42 per cent of respondents say that it's difficult to determine if a snack contains artificial sweeteners.
- When asked to name any sweeteners found in food & beverages, 40 per cent of respondents couldn't name any.