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Snyderman: People are ‘hard wired’ to love candy

By Jenni Spinner+

03-Jun-2014
Last updated on 04-Jun-2014 at 15:36 GMT

Health expert Dr. Nancy Snyderman encourages people eat a little candy every day (M&Ms being one of her personal favorites).
Health expert Dr. Nancy Snyderman encourages people eat a little candy every day (M&Ms being one of her personal favorites).

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a surgeon and resident medical expert on NBC, believes candy and sugar are not taboos, but necessary to human health.

Snyderman spoke to ConfectioneryNews during the recent Sweets and Snacks Expo, a conference showcasing products and trends in candy and snacks. While many medical professionals encourage consumers to restrict their sugar intake—or cut it out entirely—Snyderman believes eating candy is key to health and happiness.

Rational behavior

Snyderman said while “ration” has become something of a dirty word, the idea of limited consumption of resources—whether it’s treating yourself with small amounts of candy rather than heaps, or using smaller amounts of material in packaging instead of more—is necessary.

There’s a finite amount of stuff in the world,” Snyderman said. “We ration because we want to have something left.”

Snyderman recommended the candy industry reclaim the word “ration” so it becomes accepted as a necessary, everyday practice, rather than a chore. She told CN the idea can succeed if it is presented as giving people choices regarding candy consumption, rather than engaging in self-deprivation.

My mom believed if you had the nutritious cereal on the shelf next to the not-so-good cereal, the kids would learn at an early age they have choices,” she said. “If you deprive people of things, they’re going to gravitate to those things, and eat piles and piles of them.”

Daily routine

Snyderman told CN she eats candy every day, with M&Ms among her favorites. Enjoying sweets isn’t just part of her routine, she explained, but part of the human experience, dating back to thousands of years ago when Egyptians treated themselves with berries dipped in honey.

It’s how we’re hard wired,” she said.

Julia Child, the world-famous celebrity chef, was one of Snyderman’s close friends. According to Snyderman, Child believed frequent treats, and saying no to self-deprivation, were keys to happiness.

She believed every day should have a treat in it, and everything you put in your mouth should be a reward,” Snyderman said. “She loved sugar and used it whenever she wanted to, along with butter, and she led a full, happy, long life.”

Change in chemistry

Snyderman questioned if manufacturers were relying too heavily on sugar stand-ins. She said that the increased use of artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes has caused a change in the human brain.

Over the last few decades, people started calling sugar horrific and replaced it with fake sugars,” she said. “We know scientifically that within the space of a generation we have rewired our brains—our idea of ‘sweet’ is now the hypersweet of fake sugars.

I’m not here to bash fake sugars,” she added. “They just have just changed how we taste and sense satiation.”

Confection in chief

Snyderman said candy has been a constant presence in the White House over the years; Ronald Reagan famously kept a dish of jelly beans on his Oval Office desk, and Barack Obama has special packages of M&Ms emblazoned with the presidential seal. Snyderman said the eating and sharing of sweets might help the Commander in Chief better execute his job.

Eating candy allows you to pause and think,” she said. “Sugar gives you a endurance.”

Live long and prosper

Snyderman said eating candy might promote longevity, according to resent research. She added the people in attendance at the recent Sweets and Snacks Expo indicate there’s something to that.

A study out of Columbia University showed people who eat candy three times a week lead longer lives,” she said. “Now, does candy promote longer lives, do happier people eat candy, or does candy make you happy and happy people live longer? I don’t know, but looking around the Sweets and Snacks Expo, I’ve never seen a happier, healthier, more robust group of people.” 

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