Nutrition Week – Sugar

Cassandra has her BSc in Biology, is pursuing her second degree in Nutrition and Food at Ryerson, and is training to become a certified yoga instructor.  She is an advocate of living well through good food and good yoga.  Cassandra volunteers at St.Michael’s Hospital in Food Services and at Ryerson for the Sustainability Committee.  In addition to writing for Ryerson Health Promotion and her own blog, she loves to sing, cycle, and eat!

The Canadian Obesity Network Ryerson Branch recently held a talk about the misconceptions of sugar because of the attention it has been getting in the news. What really stood out the most to me was when the speaker, Tristin Brisbois defined the word sugars and the word sugar.  I feel like from a nutritional perspective, consumers confuse these two words and use them interchangeably.  This is incorrect so I decided I would spread the word.

The speaker, Tristin Brisbois (BSc and PhD in Nutrition and Food Science) has a nutrition research background in cancer and food intake behaviour, and obesity markers and works as Manager of Nutrition and Scientific Affairs at the Canadian Sugar Institute. .  The CSI functions as a “Nutrition Information Service” which provides scientific information about sugars, carbohydrates, and health to professionals, consumers, and the media.  They also work to improve trade and provide information to its members which are the Lantic and Redpath sugar companies.

The term ‘sugars’ includes all naturally occurring and added sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose and lactose. All sugars contribute 4 Calories per gram, the same as all carbohydrates. Sucrose, glucose and fructose all occur naturally in fruits and vegetables and are added to foods in various forms. The term, sugar, most commonly refers to sucrose, which contains equal parts of glucose and fructose joined together. Sucrose is most abundant in sugar cane and sugar beet but is also the main sugar in maple syrup. High fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch and contains a mixture of the individual sugars glucose and fructose, usually 42% glucose, 55% fructose and 3% other sugars. Other sources of fructose in the diet include honey and agave nectar. (Canadian Sugar Institute 2013)

Being able to differentiate between the two terms in my opinion provides you with one of the most important tools you will need to filter through the nutrition hype all around you.  Sugar is the white powdery goodness you sprinkle onto your latte, and sugars are the simple compounds that make up all of the carbohydrates you will consume.

I feel like talks like this are important to any undergraduate student.  Coming to understand how an industry functions and funds certain informative services, what type of information these institutes dispel and how that information compares to what you are learning from school and from your experiences makes the university experience here at Ryerson so much more valuable.  I also love that it gave us an opportunity to network with some industry peeps!

So next time you see a headline with sugar in it, try to figure if they are using it correctly.  And go to the next talk by a guest speaker in your program or student group and then tell us about it!

If you want to know more about sugars, and eating habits…

Visit The Canadian Obesity Network Students and New Professionals Ryerson Branch Facebook page and The Canadian Sugar institute website at


And ask the right people questions…

The head of the Canadian Obesity Network Students and Professionals Ryerson Branch is Nick Bellissimo who is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nutrition at Ryerson University.  Dr. Bellissimo’s research continues to focus on the physiological and environmental factors that contribute to appetite and energy imbalances in children with the goal of providing a foundation for advice on diet composition, acute aerobic activity, and environment in preventing and managing overeating in children.

Tweet him! @ProfBellissimo

And tweet us too! @ryehealthpromo


Until next time sweeties…