I quite like this spoons of sugar idea. Whether it’s on the front of the pack or the back of the pack, a per 100g breakdown of fat, salt, sugar, fibre, protein, carbs - whatever - is meaningless to the average consumer. With spoons of sugar it’s tangible: you know where you stand - at least so far as sugar is concerned.
So if you take Coca-Cola (the whipping boy of the health lobby), a super-serving in a cinema is 44 spoons of sugar. If it’s a 330ml can, it’s nine. No right minded person I know has nine teaspoons of sugar in their tea or coffee. Let alone 44! Thus teaspoons perfectly illustrate the importance of relativity in the debate on obesity.
“Teaspoons perfectly illustrate the importance of relativity in the debate on obesity”
Adam Leyland, Editor
Into this maelstrom Jamie Oliver this week swung his considerable heft - metaphorically, that is: the celebrity chef has shed two stone - 28 bags of sugar, or perhaps I should say, 3,164 spoons of sugar. And his documentary is certainly powerful, though the evidence from his Mexican adventure is far from conclusive: as we report, calorie consumption is down by as little as six calories per day.
But he’s also treading on thin ice(-ing sugar). Campaigning against obesity while flogging highly calorific food was always going to be dangerous. Maybe he thought ‘taxing’ fizzy drinks in his restaurants would take critics off the scent. Not so. He’s been criticised by health experts for not displaying the amount of sugar in his menus no less.
And it’s at this point that the unhealthy obsession with sugar becomes apparent. And the usefulness of sugar spoons evaporates. The menu at Jamie’s Italian shows quite clearly that the chocolate brownie contains 746 calories and features 87.5g carbs. Is the failure to disclose that it also contains 76.5g of sugar the big cover-up or oversight these health ‘experts’ suggest?
Surely the point here is not that this brownie contains 19 teaspoons of the sweet stuff - the equivalent of more than two cans of Coke. It’s the fact that, at 746 calories, it is more than five times as calorific as the Coke can’s 139 calories.
I’ve been saying this for years. We have an obesity crisis not because of what we eat and drink. It’s how much.