Prepare yourself to be surprised (and a little disturbed)

By Lauren Mazzo

If you treat youself to a daily soda, enjoy flavored yogurt on the reg, or love to snack on cereal for an afternoon pick-me-up, you might want to change your eating habits, ASAP.

Public Health England (PHE) just released Change4Life Sugar Smart, a new app that lets you scan the barcodes of your favorite foods (over 75,000 products) and displays the sugar content in the form of sugar cubes, to help you better visualize the hidden sweet stuff in what you're eating.

Even if you're sugar concious and check your food labels religiously, it's alot easier to dismiss a number (8 grams in this bottled coffee drink? Pft, whatever...) than it is to mentally dismiss the image of a mountain of cubes. That fruit-flavored Greek yogurt (four cubes) doesn't seem so healthy anymore, right? (We had real, healthy women share their daily sugar intake-the numbers were shocking!)

PHE is advocating limiting the added sugars in your diet, especially those in drinks and processed foods (but the naturally occuring stuff in plain dairy, and whole fruits and veggies is OK). Added sugars been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, some cancers, and not to mention, it's pretty addictive. That's why many organizations like PHE and the American Heart Association are turning their focus from condemning fats and cholesterol to demonizing sugar.

As of 2010, the US government didn't have a set limit recommendation for the amount of added sugar Americans should consume each day; however, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines are revised every five years, and the 2015 revisions will soon be released. This time, there's talk of setting a real limit. When the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee met earlier this year, they discussed recommending limiting added sugars to less than 10 percent of your daily calories-that's roughly 12 teaspoons or 48 grams a day for adults. To put it in perspective, that's less than one Grande Starbucks Caramel Bruleé Latte (even with no whipped cream). And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is even pushing for added sugars to be added to food labels.

If limiting the sweet stuff isn't already one of your New Year's resolutions, there's still time to reconsider. (Here's your guide on How to Cut Back on Sugar). At the very least, it can't hurt to add this app to your healthy-eating arsenal!



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