Tips for cutting back on added sugar

The following is being released by Consumer Reports Health:


Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Gatorade, and other drinks now come in versions made with "real" sugar as opposed to the often vilified high-fructose corn syrup.  A whole swath of sugar alternatives are now available to consumers including the new BioVittoria, an extract of the monk fruit, which is grown in Southern China.  But a new special report from Consumer Reports on Health questions whether turning to alternatives is the solution to America's growing obesity epidemic.  Consumer Reports on Health looks at sugar consumption from several angles, noting that beyond obesity, there are only a few health problems linked to sugar.  

Some research suggests that high sugar consumption may be linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Another study found that drinking two or more sugar-laden soft drinks a week almost doubled the risk of pancreatic cancer.  Meanwhile, other problems long associated with sugar have been largely overblown, research suggests. For example, type 2 diabetes isn't caused by consuming lots of sugar—though excess calories from any source does increase the risk by causing weight gain.  And people with diabetes don't need to focus on cutting back on sugar as much as controlling the intake of all carbohydrates and calories.  Finally, while many parents still think that sugar causes hyperactivity in children, a number of studies going back at least 15 years have found that isn't the case.  

The report, available on request, provides several tips for cutting back on added sugar:

  • Start with soda, since it's the leading source of added sugar. Watch out for other beverages like ready-to-drink teas, sweetened alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, and juice drinks.
  • When you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, opt for fresh fruit. For snacks, instead of a candy bar, try dry-roasted nuts, air-popped popcorn, and baked tortilla chips.  
  • Cook with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, mace, and nutmeg, which can add flavor or sweetness without the calories.  
  • Try to gradually wean yourself off the sugar you add to cereal, coffee, tea, and other foods.
  • Read food labels!  Sugar often shows up in unexpected places and often with unfamiliar names like dextrose, lactose, tapioca syrup, evaporated cane juice, and brown rice syrup.


Arthritis, constipation, depression, heartburn, impotence, incontinence…you name the health problem and it's a good bet the pharmaceutical industry has a solution.  While there are nondrug treatments that often work just as well as drugs, they don't have the advantage of million-dollar ad campaigns. And it's usually easier for harried doctors to write a prescription than educate their patients about lifestyle changes and other steps that could make a difference.  Nondrug remedies may not be as simple as popping a pill, but they typically pose little or no risk of side effects.  And what you do to tackle one issue will often yield other benefits, too.  Consumer Reports on Health looks at several common conditions that can be cured or eased without opening a medicine bottle.  

Case in point, incontinence, which manifests itself in two ways, stress incontinence and urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder.  Stress incontinence, characterized by the involuntary loss of urine when coughing, sneezing, or exercising, responds well to Kegel exercises.  While urge incontinence seldom responds to pelvic-floor exercises alone, there are some methods to "short-circuit" the bladder.  Consumer Reports on Health medical consultants recommend stopping and focusing on the sensations of your bladder when you have that "gotta go" moment. Then try three pelvic floor contractions, and then walk to the bathroom at a normal pace.  Dietary changes can also help. Overall, research suggests that nondrug measures can ease incontinence in about 80 percent of the people with an overactive bladder and eliminate symptoms in about 25 percent of them.  Log on to for the full report.


Stepping on the bathroom scale once a week can provide strong motivation to shed excess pounds, and keep them off.  Consumer Reports Health suggests several strategies for making the most of those weigh-ins, as well as some other ways to assess your weight.  The full report is available on request.  For bathroom scale ratings, go to  Some highlights:

Use an accurate scale: Consumer Reports Health suggests using a digital, rather than dial type scale.

Be consistent: Weigh yourself at the same time every day.  It's not unusual for an average sized person's weight to fluctuate by as much as 4 pounds from day to day.

Pay attention to waist size.  A big waist signals trouble even if your body mass index, a measure of body fat, is normal.  That's because belly fat is more metabolically active than fat stored in the hips and thighs, and increases the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.  


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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