Here in America, we really like sweet things. We also have diabetes. Rates have more than quadrupled since 1980, according to the CDC. Nestlé, which manufactures edible sins like Kit Kat, Butterfinger, and 100 Grand, say they've found a way to give us our chocolate without the insulin resistance. In an official statement, the company claims its scientists discovered a way to cut the sugar content in their chocolates by up to 40 percent without affecting the taste.
In the statement, Chief Technology Officer Stefan Catsicas says the team has "discovered a new way to use a traditional, natural ingredient," by making the sugar dissolve faster, which Catsicas says would trick the tongue into thinking it's just eaten more sugar than it has.
For instance, a king size Butterfinger (be honest, you got the king size) contains 56 grams of sugar—and a 40 percent reduction would bring that figure down to 34 grams. If you were on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, you'd be getting 6.8 percent of your daily calories from the sugar in the new Butterfinger (as one gram of sugar equals four calories), as opposed to 11.2 percent from the current Butterfinger.
The average person should get no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars, says Baylor University dietitian Jana Heitmeyer. Although the less sugary Butterfinger would be complicit with those guidelines, Heitmeyer worries about the potential for additives to replace the natural sugar.
"If you take out sugar, you have to replace it with something," Heitmeyer says. "So my concern is, what is that something?"
We don't know what that "something" is—or whether it actually exists—because Nestlé is keeping the formula under wraps until the company can patent the method, which they'll apply to their chocolates in 2018.
If you're thinking it's too good to be true, you're right to be critical. Consider aspartame as a case study: The artificial sweetener used in Wrigley gum, Coke Zero, and a host of other low-calorie products has been recently fingered as a possible barrier to weight loss, and anecdotally associated with side effects like migraines.
What we do know is that we don't need to wait for the food industry to make us healthier. Cutting the added sugars out of our diets increases energy and improves mood, Heitmeyer says. So rather than rejoice over the fact that we may be able to eat more chocolate, maybe we should try to wean ourselves off our national addiction in the first place.