November 12, 2014

The Canadian Sugar Institute is a non-profit association which maintains a scientific Nutrition Information Service staffed by qualified nutrition professionals. Our mandate is to provide health professionals and the public with current evidence-based information on sugars and carbohydrates in the context of a balanced diet, as well as to advocate for nutrition policies and recommendations that are based on reliable scientific research.  Our work is completely distinct from activities of member companies. We are not involved in the marketing or promotion of sugar or food products that contain sugar - that is simply not what we do.

One of our Registered Dietitians and our Manager of Nutrition & Scientific Affairs with a PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism were invited by nutrition student representatives of Northern Secondary School’s “The Healthy Hub” to participate in the program as their theme for November was “sugar”. Our purpose for participating in this one-time event was very straightforward - to speak about evidence-based information related to sugars and carbohydrates in the context of a balanced diet.

Before our presentation, the School Board requested to review any potential handouts that we might distribute. We provided copies of our resources to the Board for their approval but decided not to distribute any Institute materials at the event. We did not engage in any financial partnerships with the school and did not encourage/promote any sales of specific foods, and did not exhibit any logos or other Institute materials.

This session at the school was informal, with a table set up in the cafeteria for interested students to visit during their lunch hour and ask questions. We prepared a few activities which included 1) a jeopardy game focused on types of sugars, where sugar comes from, and myths and facts regarding sugars; 2) pictures of foods representing each of the functions  that sugars can perform in foods (.e.g., food safety/preservation, texture, browning); and 3) a nutrition labelling exercise on reading Nutrition Facts tables.

The school was featuring a banana loaf on the cafeteria menu that day, but this was solely a school initiative and was not part of our activities, nor were we involved in its promotion or sale. We do however congratulate the school on developing new recipes that meet the strict nutrition standards set by the government for food and beverages sold in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in Ontario (PPM 150). 

We appreciate the concerns raised by individuals related to our presentation because we know parents and teachers have a vested interest in the health of their students and children. We value communication and transparency. It is with regret that we cannot participate in an on-camera interview but do extend an invite for future one-on-one discussions with the media, students, parents, educators or other members of the public who are interested in learning more about the roles, priorities and activities of the Canadian Sugar Institute’s Nutrition Information Service.