Food and Drink

Johns Hopkins Dietitian: Labels #1 Way To Curb Obesity In Kids

Chocolate chip cookie on white
On June 1 the Baltimore City Council will consider a resolution to help curb the consumption of sugar among local children and teenagers, following a rise in obesity and adult onset diabetes in the city.

And this week, Cara Shipley, a registered dietitian and Research Program Coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Global Obesity Prevention Center, said that improved food and drink labels are the single best way to limit sugar use. Shipley is urging parents to pay more attention to the labels on the food and beverages their kids consume every day.

Obesity is not just a problem in Maryland; the World Health Organization released a new report in March 2015 that revealed a “global epidemic” of obesity, and recommended both adults and children limit their sugar intake to less than 10% of total daily food consumption.

Shipley also warned parents to beware of labels that use alternative names for sugar in their ingredients. In particular, she says consumers should be on the lookout for the following ingredients:

    • Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Fructose, Galactose, Glucose, and Lactose
    • Brown Sugar, Honey, Malt, Maltose, Powdered and Confectioner’s Sugar
    • Demerara Sugar, Invert Sugar, Barbados Sugar, and Turbinado Sugar
    • Rice Syrup, Molasses, Treacle and Maple Syrups

Although not all sugars are as harmful as others, simply replacing sugar with molasses won’t improve health outcomes.

According to the WHO report, front-of-package labels displaying sugar levels were one of the most effective ways to curb weight gain long-term. Parents and consumers are increasingly buying products with special healthy labeling, and because of this trend, the U.S. packaging industry is growing by 3.8% a year so far this decade, generating around $7 billion annually.

In particular, Shipley says to watch out for food and beverage labels that contain words like “Sweetened.”

According to Sugar Free Kids Maryland, one in three Baltimore children are overweight. The main culprit: sugary soft drinks and juices.

To combat the problem, the City Council will discuss a resolution aimed at making more healthy food available in the city.

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