By Reginald Williams,
Special to the AFRO

The front of food packaging is for entertainment—pure hype. The back of the package holds the life-altering information.

Food manufacturers employ deceptive marketing strategies to capitalize on consumers’ movement

toward eating healthier. Packaging designed with messages like “100% Organic,” “All Natural,” and “Made with REAL Fruit” boldly printed on the front—subliminally suggesting that the product is a

healthier option is customary practice.

But what is the truth?

The information printed on the back of the packaging—the small print—reveals truths antithetical to the promotion posted on the front.  

“Marketing on the front of the product is always going to be flashy and gorgeous, and you’re going to want to buy it. But when you turn the label around, it’s usually a different story,” explained Jana Wolff, registered dietitian, licensed dietitian/nutritionist, and director of nutrition at Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s Comprehensive Obesity Management Program. “You need to know what to look for because food companies are trying to get you to buy their product.”

Consumers must read the ingredients to know the facts. The failure or refusal to investigate the ingredients keeps most Americans diseased. Statistically, most Americans feasting on the Standard American Diet is prime to live with metabolic diseases.

A 2018 study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health found that 88 percent of Americans are metabolically unhealthy.

“Poor metabolic health leaves people more vulnerable to developing Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health issues,” said Joana Araujo, a postdoctoral research associate in nutrition and the study’s first author.

With the onset of COVID, optimal metabolic health can be the difference between life or death if you are diagnosed with the virus. Several studies reveal that most COVID-related deaths or severe illnesses occur when a patient has at least two pre-existing conditions.

Optimal metabolic health is achieved when blood glucose and pressure, cholesterol (triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein), and waist circumference exist at ideal levels without the benefits of medications. 

Unstable metabolic health is primarily the result of a poor dietary discipline rooted in mostly eating processed foods filled with synthetic additivities. A person’s risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular health issues, Type 2 diabetes, or lymphatic health issues is more about their dietary decisions than their hereditary predisposition.

When reading food labels, there are various ingredients to avoid if better health is your mission. Here follows are three.

Enriched Products 

Americans love bread and pasta. The flour most often used to make those products is enriched. Striping the natural ingredients from grain to restore or compensate for the lost nutrients enriches those products. Promotional propaganda promotes that the enriched ingredients provide the micronutrient deficiencies missing in diets. However, the purpose of extracting the natural nutrients gives pathway to a longer shelf life and improves the taste and appearance that synthetic nutrients provide. Subsequently enhancing a manufactures revenue. Longer shelf life equates to less spoilage, creating increased revenue opportunities. 

Enriched derivates are usually simple starches that break down into sugar (glucose, maltose, etc.) in your blood.

Replace enriched products with alternatives like spelt, chickpea, or almond flour. Instead of white rice, choose farro, millet, or couscous (all are complex carbohydrates).


High fructose corn syrup. Sucrose. Maltose. Maltodextrin. Dextrin. There are somewhere between 60 and 100 different names for sugar. Caramel. Cane sugar and syrup represent additional sugars.  

Sugar is arguably the most popular ingredient added to food. Salad dressings, ketchup, and orange juice are some daily products consumed that manufacturers sprinkle sugar on. Sugar is added to food for enhanced taste and appearance.

Almost 60 percent of African-Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, while approximately 36 percent are diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Americans consume approximately 80 grams of sugar per day, that equals between 60 and 100 pounds of sugar annually. Because sugar is included in most all packaged foods, it is imperative to read labels and avoid eating foods with excess sugar. 

If you must sweeten your food, agave and date syrup are healthier options.


Whatever nutritional value oil has is eliminated when cooked in high heat. Oils heated beyond their smoke point creates harmful free radicals that can lead to inflammation, increase cholesterol levels and be carcinogenic. Dieting on foods fried in oils, especially reused oils, expedites poor metabolic health.

Vegetable, palm, sunflower, safflower, soybean, and canola are the oils most frequently used in all kinds of foods, including sweets like cookies, pies, and cakes will jeopardize your health. 

Avocado and extra-virgin olive oils are the best alternatives.

You can improve your metabolic health by removing enriched foods, excess sugars, and foods fried in oils from your diet. 

Reginald Williams, the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized” writes on Black men and Holistic Health concerns. Please email or visit for more information.

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Reginald Williams

Special to the AFRO