74 percent of food products have added sugar

Now that I'm back in the gym (three and counting), I'm catching up on podcasts that I don't have/take time for usually.

The past couple of runs, I've been listening to Kelly Brownell of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale interview Dr. Robert Lustig of the University of California at San Francisco. (Part 1, "Childhood Obesity"| Part 2, "Sugar and Processed Food") Yesterday, I was bowled over — OK, just figuratively, I did actually keep running — by Lustig's saying that 80 percent of the 600,000 food product sold have added sugar.

*I* am convinced that added sugar is pervasive, but I never would have guessed it was thus. (I inquired about the stat, first with Lustig and then with UNC's Barry Popkin, whom Lustig pointed to as his source. The final figure was more like 74 percent, Popkin said, and will be published in the next month or two.)

In the same 'cast, Lustig said that we need to drastically reduce average daily consumption of sugar — from 22 teaspoons now to 9 teaspoons for men and to 6 teaspoons for women — if we are to avoid the illnesses that otherwise result, and "there's no way to do it with the current food supply."

On that, I disagree. Does it take vigilence? Yes. Are one's choices dramatically curtailed? Of course.

But I'm doing it and so are thousands of others. I'd bet it's more like millions — 3 million would still be only 1 percent of Americans — but the point is that many people are consuming very little added sugar.

The question is "only" motivation. Properly motivated, people can do great things, imposing things, "impossible" things. And in that context, what I and so many others are doing by avoiding most added sugar is really nothing. Choosing different options, nothing more.

Now, will most people choose to opt differently? Certainly, so far, the answer is no. But it's not nearly impossible. One only has to want to.

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