Olympian challenges Utahns to 10 days without sugar

Posted at 6:33 PM, Nov 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-14 20:33:39-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- There are about 170,000 Utahns diagnosed with diabetes, and many of them are coping with diabetes in their own way.

"I started cycling for my exercises," said David Schiff, who has had type 2 diabetes for more than a decade. "Through cycling I'm able to manage my diabetes by losing a ton of weight and by eating properly."

Friday, on World Diabetes Day, dozens gathered at the University of Utah to raise awareness of the disease. Shannon Bahrke Happe, who won an Olympic silver medal in 2002, issued a challenge to all Utahns to kick the sugar habit.

"I'm issuing you a 10-day, no sugar challenge,” Happe said.

That means cutting out added sugar, anything with sucrose, dextrose and high fructose corn syrup.

"We know that increased sugar content is contributing to obesity in the United States and that leads to diabetes,” said Dr. Simon Fisher, who is the Chief of the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Utah Hospital.

If you decide to take on the 10-day no sugar challenge, nutritionists said the key is to look at the labels on your food.

"Just by reading the nutritional label while looking at the sugar content, something like yogurt---which is a very healthy option--you can get caught with a lot of sugar," said Jamie Montuoro, who is a clinical coordinator at Smith’s.

Nutritionists said people should be wary of boxed items.

"Traditionally, this is a healthy option," Montuoro said. "However, if you look at the food label, this particular one has 23 grams of sugar in it."

If you don't want to bother looking at the labels, Monturo said the healthiest and most unprocessed of foods are typically located along the perimeters of grocery stores.

Those putting out the 10-day challenge know it won't be easy, but they said beating those cravings will have long term benefits.

“Cutting out sugar is going to help people lose weight, and that's going to help prevent obesity and prevent diabetes,” Fisher said.

For more information about the challenge, click here.