Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's up with all the added sugar in infant cereals?

The other day, as I was walking through the aisles in a Mexican supermarket, trying to find a baby-cereal to mix with baby Y's fruit I was shocked at the lack of "healthy"options. By healthy I mean free of added sugar. But there I was, reading the labels of the major brands offered for infants: Gerber , Nestum (Nestlé) and Cerelac. I almost lost my sight and I could not believe what I read, but regardless of the fact that the packagings claimed the cereals contained: "no artificial flavours or preservatives"and looked very natural if you were to believe the impression they made, with the brown and beige rustic looking bag, every one of these cereals contained circa 5 grams * of sugar in a 15 gram portion of cereal. What!!! That is 33 % of sugar content. Or, if you want to imagine it in a more graphic way, that is 1 spoon of sugar, per 3 spoons of cereal. I just can not believe this is even allowed by authorities (though I am hardly surprised) but I am even more shocked at the lack of an alternative. **

I am with Jamie Oliver, disappointed, outraged, shocked. I feel,like him, that most of America*** "has been raped by multinantional corporations as they dominate the market with unhealthy products." Coca-Cola products are one thing, and a whole other subject, but these are babies we are talking about. This is the sugar lobbies working hard to perpetuate our sweet teeth, getting us hooked at the earliest possible stages. Again, like Jamie said: "Sugar's definitely the next evil. It's the next tobacco, without doubt". It can potentially "destroy lives, by causing obesity and illness". 

The problem is not sugar per-se, as it is all about learning balance, self-control, and of course, enjoying the pleasures of life (This blog is after all called Poppies and Ice Cream. I love ice-cream. Both the boy and I were nicknamed Cookie Monsters, enough said). The problem is highly-processed products, devoid of the fiber, minerals and other nutrients they originally contained. The problem perhaps most importantly, is the way those products act in our primate brains, the reactions they trigger. Evolution has not caught up with the abundance of food available to to those in most Western societies and so when our bodies find a product so sweet, so highly concentrated in glucose (or other sachharides) they say: "jackpot!", our survival instincts turn up to the max and go into a 'let's-store-all-of this energy-in-preparation-for-those-days-where-food-sources-might-become-scarce' mode. And scarily, our taste buds and brains get used to this highly stimulating products and won't be satisfied with anything else, generating addiction, and a neurological reaction that has been compared to the high of certain drugs. ****

I wish this was not the case. I wish information could be available to everyone. I wish parents were at least offered a choice. It makes me so sad, particularly knowing the alarmingly increasing rates of obesity in Mexico.

*4.8 gr in 15 gr. to be precise
**Unless of course you do what I did, buying regular oatmeal and grinding it in a food processor.
*** (America, the continent)

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