Canadian Sugar Institute Encourages Canadians to seek Balanced Information Following Screening of Sugar Coated Documentary
In advance of the screening of Sugar Coated, a documentary airing at this year’s Hot Docs Festival, the Canadian Sugar Institute is inviting Canadians, and the media, to gather science based information on sugar in order to critically assess the content.
The documentary, described as a “compelling investigative doc exposing the US sugar industry”, is the latest in a series of documentaries that fails to take a balanced approach to the role sugar plays in our diets. Foods containing carbohydrates, including starches, sugars and fibres, are an important source of energy and are in no way harmful at current consumption levels. Focussing on sugar or any other single ingredient is not helpful in understanding or addressing serious and complex health issues including obesity and diabetes.
“Consumption of added sugars in Canada is about 11% of calories1, within a range compatible with a healthy diet,” said Laura Pasut, a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Director of the CSI Nutrition Information Service. “Excess calories from any source can contribute to weight gain and science has not found that sugars have a different role compared to other calorie sources. Moderation in intake of all foods and food ingredients is key along with physically active lifestyle.”
The CSI Nutrition Information Service would like to clarify some misconceptions in the film’s media kit. “Firstly, the consumption of added sugars in Canada has been declining over the past 20 years,”1 said Ms. Pasut. “In fact, worldwide consumption of sugars has been either declining or stable according to a recent peer reviewed publication."2
Another important misleading fact in the documentary is the suggested link between sugar and diabetes. “Pinpointing sugar as a cause of diabetes is a myth. In fact, a recent systematic review concluded that the evidence does not support a relationship between sugars intake and diabetes,"3 said Pasut. “Type 1 diabetes is linked to genetics and other unknown factors that trigger onset; and Type 2 diabetes is linked to genetics and a number of lifestyle risk factors.4 Overweight is among those factors but not any specific dietary pattern. In other words, it’s not so simple.”
“As dietitians and nutrition scientists at the CSI Nutrition Information Service, we are advocates of healthy debate, but only when that debate is balanced, based on scientific evidence and in the best interests of the public,” said Pasut. “We invite the public and media to reach out to us and visit our website (www.sugar.ca) so that they we can review the facts on sugar, consumption patterns, and how sugar contributes to the foods we eat every day. Relying on anything but a totality of fact-based, peer reviewed research is a disservice to the public especially when it makes claims that are not accurate.”
About The Canadian Sugar Institute
The Nutrition Information Service of the Canadian Sugar Institute provides health professionals, educators, consumers and the media with current scientific information on sugars, carbohydrates and health. The Nutrition Information Service is managed by qualified nutrition professionals including registered dietitians and nutrition researchers and is guided by a Scientific Advisory Council. The goal of this service is to inform and educate Canadians about sugars and healthy eating and to advocate for nutrition policies and recommendations that are based on reliable scientific research.
1. Brisbois TD, M. S. (2014). Estimated intakes and sources of total and added sugars in the Canadian diet. Nutrients, 6(5), 1899-912. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24815507
2. Wittekind A, W. J. (2014). Worldwide trends in dietary sugars intake. Nutr Rev Res, 27(2), 330-45. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25623085
3. Tsilas CS, d. S.-M. (2014). No relation between total sugars intake and incident diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohorts. 32nd International Symposium on Diabetes and Nutrition. Reykjavik, Iceland