Student raises concerns about sugar association’s presentation at school

WATCH ABOVE: Crystal Goomansingh reports on why the group won’t be allowed in other Toronto schools. 

TORONTO – A teenager at a Toronto high school says he was told by a group of presenters talking sugar at his school Monday that he couldn’t ask any more questions about the product.

Ryan Storm, a 13-year-old student at Northern Secondary School, wrote in his blog that he attended a presentation by the Canadian Sugar Institute intended to talk about how sugar can be part of a healthy diet.

He began asking questions about the dangers of sugars, and the studies which backed up their claims.

“They didn’t ask me specifically to leave, they asked me to stop asking them questions,” Storm said in an audio clip posted on his website.

The association refused to be interviewed by Global News but said in a statement they “are not involved in the marketing or promotion of sugar or food products that contain sugar.”

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The association promotes itself as a non-profit representing the Canadian sugar industry which provides science-based nutrition information.

The association said they were invited by the school to share nutritional information.

But school board officials didn’t know about the presentation until it had already happened. Ryan Bird, a spokesperson for the TDSB, said the organization didn’t go through the normal vetting process.

“The fact is, this specific presentation didn’t go through our formal vetting process,” Bird said. “The fact is, it was inappropriate, it shouldn’t have happened and this specific presentation won’t be made in that school, or any other school.”

He said dieticians, nutritionists and public health officials connected with a hospital or public health unit would be the type of expert brought in to talk about nutrition.

The association has an extensive section on their website for educators and students that purports to explain the “role of sugars and carbohydrates in a healthy diet.”

According to information available on another section of the website, there is no “clear and consistent association between” increased sugar intake and a higher body mass index. The website goes on to say “higher intakes of total or added sugars” are associated with “lower incidence of obesity.”

The Heart and Stoke Foundation recently said excess sugar consumption is linked to heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes and urged Canadians to eat less sugar.


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