‘Healthy’ Snacks Packed with Hidden Sugars

A single pack of these innocent looking snacks contains a whopping ten grams of sugar- that’s almost half of its ingredients! The second ingredient is sugar, even though the packaging says it is made with real fruit and no artificial colours or flavours.

A single pack of these innocent looking snacks contains a whopping ten grams of sugar- that’s almost half of its ingredients! The second ingredient is sugar, even though the packaging says it is made with real fruit and no artificial colours or flavours.

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The young mother, with the goal to keep her kids healthy and happy, went to her local grocery store to find snacks that would satisfy for her children. Browsing from aisle to aisle, she felt overwhelmed with the amount of options! The words ‘organically grown’, ‘locally harvested’, ‘made with real fruit’ and ‘low in fats’ were thrown in her face.

She finally came across fruit snacks with vibrant blue packaging and she immediately felt a weight had been lifting off her shoulders. As she put the package in her basket, she was astonished to see that the first ingredient was actually sugar!

Interestingly, this happens to be the same situation many parents go through on a daily basis. In fact, almost all consumer goods are marketed to make them appear healthy.

According to ​The Guardian​, companies purposely load “their products with unacceptably large amounts of sugar” and advertise them as being much healthier than they truly are. This is a strategy they use to make money.

To make money, companies need to attract the customer. It is one thing to have attractive packaging, but, according to Nielsen, a global marketing research firm, “above all else, if a snack doesn’t taste good, only high dedicated consumers will buy it,” making the added sugar more beneficial for companies.

Nielsen, also says that snacking over the past few years has become “an obsession worth over US$124 billion” in North America.

On top of that, Cara Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian says that the snacks we eat “make up a quarter of our daily calories” therefore, it is very important that our snacks be truthfully advertised.

The Nielsen Firm adds that with this growing obsession “60 percent of consumers seek healthier snack options,” which is why companies feel the need to label their products as being good.

Parents are the most drawn to these marketing techniques because they want to ensure that their children stay healthy. Laura Donnelly says that when looking for snacks, parents are tricked into believing that something is healthy due to the misleading information on the packaging. The marketing distracts them from the sugar content, making them proud to purchase products even if they are not fully aware of what is inside them.

A single pack of these innocent looking snacks contains a whopping ten grams of sugar- that’s almost half of its ingredients! The second ingredient is sugar, even though the packaging says it is made with real fruit and no artificial colours or flavours.

For instance, the Public Health England agency explains that​ ​“the highest sugar content is found in processed dried fruit products which are often marketed as healthy snacks.” Hiding sugars in products like these make parents less sceptical of what they are truly buying.

Sadly, many people do not recognize this trend. This could be the cause of the obesity crisis in North America: as an article published in ​The Telegraph ​suggests, “one in five children are overweight or obese by the time they start primary school.”

Mary Story and Simone French, who both work in the division of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, state that many studies have found that the diets that children and teens in North America have do not meet expectations due to all the food they eat which is supposedly good for them. Children are eating too many snacks, and what’s worse, their parents think they are healthy!

Companies today have no obligation to change their advertising strategies, so it is up to the consumer to become more aware of what they are buying. Jaira, along with many, make the mistake of falling for false advertising and not reading nutrition labels. We need to take action and change these ways before it is too late.