Are you Sugar Savvy?

by Rachel Crowley

Students challenge themselves to make healthy nutritional change after learning about the nutritional content of foods around campus

March 1st marks the beginning of a campus wide attempt to limit the intake of added sugar: the commencement of the 21-Day Sugar Savvy Challenge. A partnership between Cal Dining, the UHS Health Promotion and Tang Health Worker Program, Haas School of Business, the School of Public Health, and the Student Nutrition Advocacy Club (SNAC) aims to raise light on this issue through their Health Matters Wellness Program’s Sugar Savvy Campaign (UHS). As a part of their campaign, they are challenging students to a 21-day Sugar Savvy Challenge that includes accomplishing goals such as choosing savory snacks, making savory breakfasts, curbing your cravings, and decreasing sugary drink consumption.

Despite the rising amount of research on sugar’s negative impact on the body, this addicting substance’s hidden and overwhelming presence within a variety of food products is increasing at an alarming rate. Over the last thirty years, sugar consumption in the United States has increased by more than 30%, with the top 20% of these consumers consuming an average of 721 calories in added sugar daily (Obesity Society).

To put this into comparison, the American Heart Association recommends that approximately six teaspoons of added sugar should be consumed per day, which composes only 100 calories of one’s overall daily caloric intake (AHA).

With the media-impacting consumer purchasing habits and a shocking 74% of products on the shelves containing added sugar, any attempt to limit one’s sugar intake seems impossible (UNC). In addition, food-labeling laws do not require any specification of the percent of sugar that is added to their products.

The Sugar Savvy campaign made an active attempt to change the perception of sugar on campus through their Sugar Savvy tabling event on Upper Sproul on February 24th. At the event, attendees were asked to rank common snacks and beverages from lowest to highest sugar content. Afterwards, they were provided with an actual visual of the amount of cane sugar that would be present in each item.

“Events like these are important especially because many of my family members are either diabetic or are predisposed to heart disease,” one attendee stated.

The overwhelming presence of sugar in snack items is a threat facing many students who purchase their food through on-campus retailers. Many students expressed shock towards the 16-gram sugar content in Milano cookies, which is a common go-to study snack for students living in the residential halls. The accessibility of these items in the residential community and around campus has a large effect on a person’s consumption behavior.

“I often eat these cookies with my friends in the dorms because it is too inconvenient to go to the grocery store and buy fruit”, a student who currently lives in the residence halls said.

This stands as a call to action for leaders in our community to increase the availability of alternative snack choices on campus in order to limit added sugar consumption. As a result of this campaign, many students on campus have pledged to make one Sugar Savvy change for the official Sugar Savvy Day on February 29th. This is one step closer to creating a generation founded on healthy eating.

You can find the pledge to be Sugar Savvy on Sugar Savvy Day, February 29th, at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2SH78DY.

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