No, this isn’t a National Enquirer headline meant to trick you into reading my column. Listen, no aliens were hurt or involved in writing this column.
Rather, the headline stems from my super savvy internet managing editor, Crystal Lindell, forwarding me a Huffington Post blog post by Dr. Ayala Laufer-Cahana, entitled “Does Candy Make Kids Fat?” Naturally, I sense some skepticism out there once I mentioned the Huffington Post. Granted, it’s not the Wall St. Journal or the New York Times, but anyone objectively evaluating today’s media, particularly web-based, would have to agree that the Huffington Post has been an influencer.
Moreover, Laufer-Cahana is an actual physician (pediatrics and medical genetics) who has an office at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. As a vegetarian and mother of three, she believes that eating healthy and enjoying good food are symbiotic, and that eating well is an important aspect of maintaining and promoting health and well-being (DrAyala.com). She’s also the co-founder and creative force behind Herbal Water Inc.
Of course, just because you’re a physician doesn’t mean you’re an expert on everything, Dr. Phil notwithstanding. Nonetheless, I found her most recent blog post fascinating. As Laufer-Cahana points out, it took a group of Australian researchers, led by Constantine Gasser, to discover that candy consumption is not related to obesity.
In fact, after reviewing 11 studies done on 180,000 kids and teens, Gasser discovered “that the more chocolate and candy kids ate, the slimmer they tended to be. The odds of being overweight or obese were 18 percent lower among the most avid consumers of chocolate and candy.”
Published in the April 13th issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Gasser and her colleagues posted the following conclusions:
“Instead of overweight and obese children and adolescents having higher confectionery intakes, this review shows the reverse effect. This result might reflect a true inverse association, reverse causality, or differential underreporting in heavier individuals. Interventions may need to focus on dietary elements other than confectionery to tackle obesity.”
There’s a bit of medical speak there, but in brief, as Laufer-Cahana suggests in her blog post, “it might be that these sweets are quite satiating, and that people tend to eat reasonable amounts of them.”
Although Laufer-Cahana does point out that candy is a major source of added sugar for children, it’s dwarfed by sugary drinks. She cites research referenced by the National Cancer Institute that sugary drinks contribute five times as much added sugars as candy. In fact, soda/energy/sports drinks, fruit drinks, grain-based desserts and dairy desserts all rank higher than candy, which just barely edges out ready-to-eat cereals.
Now being a doctor and mom, Laufer-Cahana stresses that this doesn’t mean kids — or adults for that matter — have permission to binge on chocolate or candies. Rather, she’s simply says it’s OK to have a treat.
That’s the message all of us in the confectionery industry, from the National Confectioners Association down to the mom-and-pop candy entrepreneur, have been espousing for the longest time. In other words, candy isn’t the root cause of obesity in children.
Heck, I recall as a youngster in grade school as being the fastest kid on the block. And guess what, I ate candy.
Most sensible people realize that sweet treats are just that — treats. It’s not an obsession, it’s an occasional occurrence.
Nonetheless, I’m sure news of this recent review of comprehensive medical studies won’t immediately silence those rabid fanatics who love to dis candy. I do think, however, this provides those of us in the industry with additional evidence about our position.
And this is good news. Now, let’s go out there and make some great candy!