Is Candy So Scary?
By Tom Ryan
A New York Times article explores whether candy isn’t as bad
for humans — at least comparatively — as generally assumed. Like many
other foods, the problem is over-indulgence, the article states, as the ingredients
in candy are not any worse — and sometimes better — than other
The article profiled Samira Kawash, a former Rutgers professor who runs
the Candy Professor blog. Her inspiration to start the blog came five years
ago when she gave her then three-year old daughter jelly beans instead of sugar-saturated
juice boxes and cookies for a playtime visit at the home of a new friend. She
found the friend had never been allowed by her parents to eat candy, with the
father comparing it to crack cocaine.
Ms. Kawash doesn’t deny candy’s links
to tooth decay and obesity issues. But she wonders why candy seems to have
a worse reputation than many other items in supermarket aisles posing similar
dangers. At the extreme, she notes that sugar-packed chocolate chip energy
bars and Gatorade are regularly marketed for health reasons, although she contends
a serving of Gatorade contains about the same sugar content as a dozen pieces
of candy corn.
“At least candy is honest about what it is,” she said. “It
has always been a processed food, eaten for pleasure, with no particular nutritional
Her blog, according to the Times, in part traces many
of the “candy
alarmists” over the last century warning that candy was “was too
stimulating, too soporific, poisoned, or otherwise hazardous.”
Johnson, a nutrition professor at the University of Vermont who was the lead
author of the American Heart Association’s comprehensive 2009
review of the scientific literature on sugar and cardiovascular health, believes
sweet food like granola bars and fruit juice carry a “health halo” that
candy can’t tap.
“Nutritionally there is little difference between a gummy bear and a
bite of fruit leather,” she argues. She also noted that candy provides
only six percent of the added sugar in the American diet, while sweet drinks
and juice supply 46 percent. “There’s reason to believe that sugar
in liquid form is actually worse than candy, because it fills you up and displaces
healthier food choices,” she said.
Speaking to ReelGirl blog, Brian
Campbell, co-owner of The Candy Store, the popular San Francisco candy store,
said the problem is that people almost always associate candy with excessive
sugar intake although very few candies use high-fructose corn syrup, the controversial sweetener.
“The vast majority of our country’s sugar consumption comes from other
sources, such as sodas,” said Mr. Campbell. “There are other countries,
such as Sweden, that consume far more candy per capita than the U.S. – and
you don’t hear much about the Swedish obesity epidemic.”
Discussion Questions: Why does candy seem to have a worse reputation compared
to other junk foods? Are their ways to at least balance its status against
- Is Candy Evil or Just Misunderstood? – The New York Times
- Candy Professor Blog
- In defense of candy – San Francisco Chronicle