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Every single mother has told her kids not to eat too many sweets and chocolates because sugar is bad for them. They’re right of course. There is a huge amount of research linking excess sugar intake to various lifestyle diseases. But what about the sugar that people don’t know they’re consuming? This is a huge problem because there are a lot of products which, on the face of it, don’t seem to contain sugar. But they do, and we are blissfully ignorant of all the hidden sugar that we have every day.

A product like Maggi Noodles can’t possibly contain sugar, can it? Read the ingredient list. It has sugar. So does another popular brand, Yippee Noodles. Products like Kellogg’s Cornflakes and Britannia Vitarich bread also contain sugar. Even a product like Kellogg’s Special K, advertised as a “healthy'” breakfast cereal, contains added sugar.

While most of us know that biscuits, chocolates and other sweets are best avoided or had in moderation, there still isn’t as much awareness about processed food products which contain sugar. As a result of this lack of awareness, people end up consuming a lot more sugar than they think they are. This is a huge food safety issue because excess sugar intake greatly increases risks of a wide range of lifestyle diseases, from obesity to diabetes to coronary heart disease. These problems are no longer restricted to the developed world alone. A 2016 study found that 19.3% of kids and adolescents in India were either obese or overweight in 2010, compared to 16.3% between 2000 and 2005.

The side effects of excess sugar consumption are potentially fatal. One paper actually recommends regulating sugar, and products containing added sugar, in a similar manner to alcohol and tobacco. I believe that it is a good idea (but I must confess to having a biased view on the issue, being a fitness freak).

The problem is that people, even those who are health conscious, consume these products without realizing that they contain sugar. Besides, a lot of people won’t believe that something like bread would have sugar unless you point it out to them on the ingredients list.

Restricting the amount of sugar we consume is essential to being healthy. But in order to effectively do that, we need to KNOW whether or not something has sugar. I suggest everyone reads labels carefully before buying any processed food. Just because it doesn’t seem likely that a product has added sugar, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t. Another solution would be to make it mandatory for brands to have an “added sugar” warning printed prominently on the packaging.