When "No Sugar Added" Means "Artificial Sweeteners Present"

Shopping for healthy popsicles this past month, I came upon a very disturbing discovery. While it wasn't the first time I noted something like this, each time is just as frustrating as the first.

I was choosing between different options of fruit-based popsicles. One of the boxes said, "No Sugar Added," and my first instinct was, "That's great, it has less sugar than the other one!" Maybe it was the heat that engendered this naivete, but then I remembered that with food marketing (and marketing in general), there is always more than meets the eye!

As the nutritionist that I am (and always was, even before the official title and license), I flipped over the box of each of the popsicle types and compared ingredient lists:

The original one:

Strawberry: Water, strawberries, sugar, citric acid, beet juice color, natural flavor, guar gum, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), carob bean gum, turmeric oleoresin color.

The "No Sugar Added" one:

Strawberry: Water, strawberries (so far so good!), sorbitol (oh!), maltodextrin, glycerin, white grape juice from concentrate (water, white grape juice concentrate), polydextrose, natural flavors, citric acid, beet juice extract (color), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), guar gum, turmeric oleoresin color, carob bean gum, sucralose (ah!), acesulfame potassium (Oh boy!), polysorbate 80.

Besides the presence of multiple artificial sweeteners—as evident by my gasping parenthetical remarks—the "No Sugar Added" version actually HAS added a lot more additives.

So next time I see "No Sugar Added," I'm going to remember that that could very well mean, "contains artificial sweeteners and additives."

And I hope you do too!

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