Common Names for Hidden Sugar in Processed Foods

A few years back, I did an internship in Cambridge, Mass with an organization titled EChO, which stands for Eradicate Childhood Obesity. I accepted the position for a few reasons, the main being that I was appalled by the number of youth that I observed to be overweight and obese. As I would learn throughout that internship, the numbers are increasing at a staggering rate and show no signs of slowing down. What could be the cause of this?! Aren’t children supposed to be the most active of all of us? While the answer to the increased rates of childhood obesity is multifactorial, I believe (in fact, I can almost guarantee that) one of the drivers of this epidemic is the increased access and consumption of processed foods rich in added and most importantly, hidden sugars by children across America.

What’s The Issue?

For those of you who know me, I get fired up rather easily about things I’m passionate about while working to see and understand alternative view points. A great example of this is the meat eaters vs. vegetarians/vegan debates. While I love meat and feel it offers tremendous and superior nutrition, I don’t dismiss vegans or vegetarians for their style of eating (as long as they’re supplementing properly to obtain the necessary dietary components). However, the topic of added and hidden sugar is one that I will never, ever turn back on. After looking at mounds of data, sifting through hundreds of research studies, and simply observing populations, I have no doubt that parents, children, educators, and health and wellness professionals need to do a better job of identifying sugar in all of it’s forms and working to decrease daily consumption (in both children and adults).

Okay, So How Does Sugar Hide?

I’ll start by showing you 56 ways sugar hides:

56 alternative names for sugar (

56 alternative names for sugar (

56 Names?! ARE YOU KIDDING?!

Let’s look at an example of a common “health food” to further explore:

First, I don’t believe the above list is even complete, I believe the list expands yearly, maybe faster. Here’s one of my favorite examples of the hidden sugar trick that companies use to fool Mom’s, youth sports coaches, schools, and even health-conscious athletes, health professionals, and others:

Nature Valley Bars- What couldn’t be healthy?! They have “whole grains” and provide “sustained energy” for all of you and your children’s needs. WRONG. Take a look at the label below and tell me how many different names for sugar are used.

How many did you count? I got four (okay technically three but I can almost guarantee that the “natural flavor” has some added sugar. The 3 others would be sugar, honey, and brown sugar syrup. Why in the world does a nature valley bar need honey AND sugar?! Not to mention brown sugar syrup.

This is sad my friends, but now you know how it’s done and can keep an eye out to avoid these type of products in the future.

Why I Think Added and Hidden Sugar Is Dangerous-

  • Sugar raises blood sugar and insulin, both of which are dangerous to health.

  • These hidden sugars are highly processed and refined, which poses risk to metabolic health.

  • Insulin promotes fat storage, hence the increased rates of childhood and adult obesity observed.

  • Individuals don’t realize how much sugar they’re actually consuming because they don’t know all of the names for sugar. This leads to a viscous cycle of chronic sugar consumption.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you have any comments, please share them below.