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Unfortunately there has not been much that the public has been able to do about labeling. The companies lobby the government and pay big bucks for there to be loop holes in the rules. Sugar-Free means just that that they did not add granulated sugar to the item. The law allows them to label it as sugar free as long as they adhere to that stipulation. This is why it is very important that all diabetics get good education on reading food labels and counting carbs. Also, carbs are found in other sources besides sugar.
So many people, including diabetics, don't read labels and rely on what I consider to be false advertising. Word of thumb - NEVER trust anything unless you have checked it out yourself. Particularly when someone makes money off of whatever it is you are eating, involved in, etc.
Remember that "sugar-free" doesn't mean carb-free. All carbohydrates can raise blood glucose, "sugar" is merely a form a carbohydrate. If you look at the label on certain "sugar-free" cookies, they have more grams of carb than 2 Chips Ahoy cookies, cost more and taste like tree bark! Labels can be very misleading. When people aren't informed, unfortunately they sometimes mistake "sugar-free" as meaning the same thing as "healthy" or worse yet, that they can eat unlimited amounts without affecting their glucose control.
Jacka- Does your son see a pediatric endocrinologist? Most children's hospitals have diabetes centers with diabetes teams. The diabetes dietitians at these centers do carb counting classes that will de-mystify label reading. They will teach you how to count carbs, when and how to subtract sugar alcohols, and how/when to account for fiber.
Childrenwithdiabetes.com is an excellent website for families of children with diabetes. We highly recommend this resource to all our patients at the pediatric diabetes center where I work. This site is huge, and has lots of info.
I will see if we have any good resources at work that I can refer you to online. If you send me a private message, I can mail some label-reading info to you.
you raised a very important reason why patients need diabetic education. Many people would just assume that sugar free is the same as carb free. I am diabetic and my experience has been that good-tasting foods have to have either salt, fat or sugar. Too much of any of those things is not good. I find it easier to eat non-processed food as much as possible for improved flavor and to know what I am really consuming.
I am a Type 2 diabetic and also a lawyer, and I recently suffered a stroke. I'm doing better now, but I feel very strongly that the "Big Food" industry let me down by mislabeling products as low-carb and/or sugar free when in fact they are really high-carb. My New Year's Resolution is to do my bit to chase down the companies and their products which are guilty of mislabeling and use the law to make some changes, so if anyone is aware of false, misleading or unfair food product labeling, please let me know at email@example.com. Thanks! Jim Hicks