Editorial: Hidden sugar is destroying your health.


Food manufacturers disguise sugar to sell more.

56 Other Names for Sugar

56 Other Names for Sugar

Food manufacturers have long hidden harmful additives in the maze of compounds included in the ingredient list.   In recent history, we are just not beginning to see the evils of empty calories from sugars.  American’s are becoming increasingly aware of the burden of added and hidden sugars, but manufacturers are very good at hiding it.  We do a great job at making lists of foods to buy to try to stay healthy, but the labels hide all the additives that we are trying to avoid.  Many of the products commonly referred to as “sugar-free” have increased the number of carbohydrates by shielding them with multiple names.

Face it, most of us know what we want to buy when we go to the grocery store, but we often come out of the store with a lot of crap that we need or want to avoid.  It has come to my attention when trying to shop healthier foods just how big of a challenge this is.  Many food manufacturers have misinformed the American consumer for years.  The fact is that they make money off you buying the garbage they are pushing.  Some of them should probably be shut down for false package advertising.  I guess that is harsh, but the misinformation that use to hide calories in some of these packages has become epidemic.  It is almost an art form.  

I think everybody knows that to watch what you are eating that you have to read the ingredients list of the foods you are eating.  Most even know that list of ingredients on the packaging is listed by the order of increasing amounts included in the recipe with the largest amounts being earlier in the list.  This should give you a rough estimate of the amount of sugar by how early it is listed in the ingredient list.  The ingredient content would seem to be a level playing field if it were this simple, but it is not.  It is not as simple as just looking at the top five ingredients and staying clear of foods with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  Unfortunately, manufacturers have created a virtual minefield for those of us who are trying to eat a healthier diet, and this minefield is nearly impossible to maneuver through to have to maneuver through.

Ingredients - double fudge cookie

Figure 1: Ingredients – double fudge cookie

The worst part is that the Federal Drug Administration has enabled them for years.  The food labels we use are very confusing.  I would argue that the labels are purposely confusing, but that is for another article.  Wouldn’t it be nice if grocery store and find the foods to have that have true labels with true nutritional content and less hidden ingredients?   Until then, we all have to educate ourselves about the hidden names of sugars and how to read nutritional labels.  For example, I have shown a label for a fudge cookie I found on the internet (Figure1).   The ingredient list has three types of sugar listed four times on the label (circled in orange).  If the sugar was listed as “added sugar” it will illuminate the problem more than the ingredient list.  

Deadly sugar - Skull and Cross Bones

Deadly sugar – Skull and Cross Bones


Sugars are sugars and no matter the source our bodies are better off having it in small amounts in their natural, unprocessed sources.  Fruit juices are exceptionally high in sugar and have much of the fiber removed.  Some “fruit juices” are so concentrated with sugar that no matter if they come from a natural source, they are terrible for you.  Grapes can be juiced, but removing the pulp and skin from the juices removes nearly all of the best nutrition.  Even worse, the juicing process is little more than concentrating the sugar content.  This process makes it easier to absorb while removing nearly all fiber.  

Sugar consumption has been tied to more weight problems, increased diabetes, and heart disease.  In my book, it is public enemy number that stands between us having a good health and a higher morbidity and mortality.  For years, the American Heart Association, US Department of Agriculture, and Federal Drug Administration have, along with the medical and nutrition communities, have assisted the sugar growers and manufacturers and clouding the healthy risks by pointing their finger at fat as the evils cause of all that ails them.  The American public deserves more.  

The bottom line: Your body does not care where sugar comes from and corporations do not want consumers to be able to easily read the label to identify high sugar foods.  The focus of the corporations is not on your health but on selling more of their highly processed products.  Advertisers and marketers need you to buy the crap they have packed up in a convenient way and colorful packaging to grab your attention.  It is hard to believe they can sleep at night with the toxins they are pushing.  

Next editorial I write will be on the confusing food labels.  

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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