May 07, 2004

How Sweet It Isn't

An article on Krispy Kreme caught my eye because, as I've learned, mentioning ye old Krispy Kreme seems to catch my readers' eyes! But also because I'd been told that the company cut its earnings forecast and their stock took a hit, so I was intrigued as to why. In checking on that I saw another, far more shocking article that has me shaking my head with wonder at what the country is coming to these days. You can't go anywhere around here without a restaurant announcing that they've jumped on the "low-carb" bandwagon! Today alone I found that Quiznos has begun selling low-carb "Toasty Flatbread" versions of all their sandwiches and a Japanese restaurant in the same plaza where I ate dinner had a huge banner out front touting their "Lovin' Low Carb" offerings, like sashimi -- gee, really? No carbs there, huh? That must be new.

This whole thing is getting out of hand, in my opinion. I've already expressed my views on how nuts I think the Atkins diet is, but the way the food and restaurant industry has latched onto the idea is just phenomenal, and phenomenally frustrating. There are so many real issues with food and the way we eat that need to be addressed, and catering to a fad like this --one that has not been proven to have real benefit and could, in fact, end up contributing even further to the nation's obesity trend -- gives it far too much credence. While people with a serious and life-threatening disease like diabetes have to search high and low for products that address their dietary concerns. And while, of course, people with diabetes need to limit their carb intake as a part of a balanced diet, not all these new products will help to that end. The reason for that is on the label, something I think a lot of people either don't read or don't really know enough about to get benefit from it. For instance, in the grocery store today I also saw for the first time this new offering from Hershey's that is their Atkins-friendly gimmick. I looked at the label and sure enough, there is one gram of sugar in the three flavors of bars. But right below it is "Sugar Alcohols - 10 g." While sugar alcohols cause blood sugar to rise less than sugar, they still have an effect. I didn't see which sugar alcohol(s) it contained, but that means anywhere from about 20 to 40 calories derived from them. That's certainly not diabetes-friendly. Does it have to be? No, but with the millions of people who truly have a need for foods that will help them, as opposed to people who are on a diet to lose vanity pounds, creating confusion over what foods are actually "good for you" is somewhat of a disservice. To give credit to Hershey's, they do also have a sugar-free product that they recently introduced, and it is intended to be an alternative to people with diabetes. But...what do you want to make a bet that the "One Gram" product gets a huge promotional push and rakes in a lot of cash, where the sugar-free product came in with a whimper and was difficult to find until recently?