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Demand for s’mores spiked in areas with most COVID-19 cases, the CEO of Hershey says — and the company tracked infection rates to decide its ad spend

Business Insider
As COVID-19 spread around the US, so did the demand for s’mores, according to The Hershey Company.  “This past year, we noticed that wherever COVID case counts were elevated, we were seeing increasing sales of s’mores ingredients,” Hershey CEO Michele Buck told CNBC.  The company said chocolate sales were up to 50% higher in locations where COVID infection rates spiked, CNBC reported. The Pennsylvania chocolate maker adjusted its digital marketing to pinpoint these areas, Buck said. Read more

FDA Urged to Stop Formula Companies from Selling Sugary Drinks as “Formula” to Toddlers 

Center for Science in the Public Interest
Advocates and researchers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, UConn Rudd Center, and New York University write that Nestlé, Walmart, and Mead Johnson & Company (makers of the brands Gerber, Parent’s Choice, and Enfamil) violate FDA regulations for infant formula. Such beverages are also not recommended by health experts for toddlers. Read more

Why you need to eat fewer ultra-processed foods like frozen pizza and granola bars

The Globe and Mail 
A steady intake of ultra-processed foods has been linked to an increased risk of chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. Now, findings from a large Italian study add to mounting evidence that ultra-processed foods should be limited. Added sugars in these foods, as well as the processing methods used to make them, may contribute to their harmful effects. Read the Globe and Mail article 

Sugar reduction reformulation progress: 77% of Canadian food and beverage products saw no changes in sugar levels over 4-year period

Food Navigator 

Using the University of Toronto’s Food Label Information Program database, researchers analyzed products from 2013 to 2017 and found most (76.6%) did not undergo changes in sugar levels, 12.4% had a decrease in total sugar and 11% had an increase in total sugar contents. You  can read the article here

Taxing sugar levels in soda could prevent 2 million US cases of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, study says

CNN

Taxes on sugary drinks, a new study has revealed, can lead to major health gains and reductions in health care costs — but just how much of a benefit they provide can vary by the design of the tax. Read the article here

Study of supermarket meals gives food for thought

Medical Xpress 
A recent study in Australia found that supermarket ready-to-eat-meals generally should have been classified as unhealthy, but still received a passing grade from the Health Star ranking system.  Lead researcher Dr. Claire Pulker from the School of Public Health at Curtin University said 54 percent of the meals were found to be unhealthy according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. As more people are buying these products due to COVID-19, it is important that they understand the health risks. Read more

Seattle Turns Soda Tax Revenue into Emergency Grocery Vouchers During Pandemic

Next City

Seattle is using its soda tax fund to provide emergency $800 grocery vouchers for 6,250 families. Sent in two installments, the first round of vouchers that can be put toward groceries have already been mailed. The second round will be mailed in April. Read the story here

Combatting a sweet tooth: the role of health marketing

Biomedical Central

A recent study published in BMC Public Health aimed to determine whether Public Health England’s Sugar Smart campaign was effective in altering dietary behaviour, by assessing any impact of the campaign on sugar intake among children aged 5-11 years. Overall it was found that the health marketing campaign raised awareness of sugar in food and drinks in both parents and children, impacting food consumption in families.  Read the article here

Cereal numbers may be deceiving

Reuters (appeared in the Montreal Gazette)

Parents may allow kids to eat too much sugary breakfast cereal because the suggested serving size is smaller than they realize, a new U.S. study suggests. The cereals with the most sugar also tend to have child-oriented marketing such as mascots, games, colours and fun shapes, researchers found in a study of brands that have pledged to help reduce added sugars in kids’ diets. “When you compute the amount of sugar by weight of the cereal, the sugar content is quite high and higher than federal recommendations,” said Jennifer Emond of the Dartmouth School of Medicine in Hanover, N.H., who wasn’t involved in the study. Read the article here

You can find the study here (paywall)

“Sugar Tax” being Applauded by Health Advocate Groups in BC

Radio NL

Dr. Tom Warshawski is praising the BC government’s decision to add the “sugar tax” to soft drinks, but believes more could be done. “I think taxes on sugary products are important, but it should be an excise tax that only the federal government can do. But, these types of discussions are really important because there’s a lot of marketing around drinking sugary drinks, in favour of it and kids are bombarded by it.” Read the article here

See also The Globe and Mail (subscriber paywall)|  Doctor says B.C.’s tax on sugary drinks will help kids lose weight, improve health