Consumer Watch: Keeping an eye on how much sugar you eat

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- When Sue Malat bakes, she counts on ingredients like mashed bananas and dark chocolate to sweeten muffins without adding extra sugar.

Keeping an eye on sugar in packaged foods is another story.

"I look at every label 'cause I don't want to have, like, sugar could be sneaky and sometimes, you know, it might say on the front like, 'low sugar' but there really is some extra, unnatural stuff in there, that I don't really want my kids to have," Malat said.

Nutrition labels are now required to list not only how much sugar is in something, but also how much added sugar is in there too.

Consumer Reports says this could potentially create a new complication for parents.

"The concern is, to make that 'added sugars number' look more appealing to consumers, manufacturers might take out some of the regular sugar and add in non-nutritive sweeteners, like sucralose or aspartame," says Consumer Reports Nutritionist Amy Keating.

It's sort of a good news-bad news situation. Less sugar is better, especially for kids, who should have less than 25 grams a day.

Overeating added sugar early in life puts children at risk for things like obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

But it's not so clear that simply consuming non-nutritive sweeteners instead is any healthier for kids.

"There's a lot of research in terms of non-nutritive sweeteners and how they affect the body, from appetite to blood glucose control to weight loss," Keating said. "But we just don't know how these sweeteners will affect kids in the long term."

The best advice is to follow Consumer Reports and Malat's lead and read labels, looking for both added sugars and non-nutritive sweeteners.

Better yet, choose whole, unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables. And skip sugary drinks, opting for water as much as possible.
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