Jonathan J. Halperin
Jonathan J. Halperin
Designing Our Future
Strategy. Partnership. Communication.

Reflections on Sugar

The thoughts below capture some aspects of my personal dilemma with sugar. Professionally, I also work with clients that manufacture products containing large quantities of sugar – while also working with foundations and nonprofits committed to helping Americans reduce sugar consumption. The conundrum is real; while no one wants to become sick or make anyone else sick, we live and work today within a tangled system of business decision-making and advertising, personal choices, and public consequences. Another blog, The Sustainability Trajectory, explores the challenges and opportunities over time as that system evolves – either predictably or in very disruptive ways.

  • I really like sugar.
  • I know too much sugar is bad for me.
  • The more I have the more I want.
  • I used to think honey was better than sugar.
  • I expect to find sugar in my Hershey Bar.
  • I did not know that one cup of condensed Campbell’s Tomato Soup also has 24 grams of sugar.

    Sugar Comparison Chart

  • I really like both those companies.
  • I thought fresh, organic, natural juices were good for me.
  • I realize now that sugars removed from the fibers that bind them into fruits are metabolized differently.
  • I am sometimes bewildered when I shop.
  • Is a smoothie, with fiber, better than juice?
  • The body metabolizes high fructose corn syrup differently from other sugars, but I am not sure I understand exactly how.
  • One calorie is not the same as every other calorie.
  • According to the CDC, diabetes can be prevented through “healthy food choices”; afflicts 28 million Americans; was the 7th most common cause of death in 2007; and cost us more than $174 billion that year in direct and indirect costs.
  • $174 billion is more than thirteen times the total GDP of Iceland.
  • Americans are heavier than ever before, myself included.
  • But people who are thin can also be very sick with metabolic syndrome.
  • FedUp, the new movie, is very sobering.

  • According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average American eats 22 teaspoons or 88grams of added sugar every day – not quite 4 Hershey bars.
  • The FedUp challenge to not eat sugar is hard.
  • Because there is no nutritional value to added sugars, food labels don’t share an RDA – which might help us understand more about what we are eating and drinking, and what it is doing to us.
  • 80% of the 600,000 food products in the US contain sugar.
  • Coca-advertising budget in 2014 will be more than $4 billion.
  • Investors called for PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi to resign after she announced plans to focus advertising on nutritious products.
  • Dr. Robert Lustig’s you tube video on the dangers of sugar, The Bitter Truth, has over 4,600,000 views.

  • I am helping him build the Institute for Responsible Nutrition.
  • I really like sugar.
  • I know too much sugar is bad for me.
  • Have a nice day.

When I began to unhook from SustainAbility in 2008, after 20+ years, to co-found Volans, Jonathan was working with the US end of SustainAbility — and sent the London end of the Volans team a large cardboard box of multi-colored felt rocks, which initially I couldn't make head nor tail of. I thought he was mad, or overly American.

But I have to say that, over time, those felt rocks have become a central feature of the Volans culture, thrown by team members at other team members (or guests) on the slightest provocation. That aside, he's a consummate professional, creative collaborator, skilled communicator, and keen intellect—and I am delighted both to have had Jonathan as a colleague and to now count him as a friend.

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