Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Health Commun. 2015;30(6):536-44. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2013.868967. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

A "naturally sweet" definition: an analysis of the sugar association's definition of the natural as a terministic screen.

Author information

a Community Development and Applied Economics Department , University of Vermont.


The political nature of sugar as a cultural commodity can be traced back for centuries. While the issues surrounding sugar consumption have changed, power struggles still exist as stakeholders struggle to identify, make sense of, and manage the relationship between sugar and obesity. I explore the rhetorical contributions of the Sugar Association to public understandings of sweeteners. Specifically, I argue that the Sugar Association positioned sugar as the best choice for consumers by positioning their sweetener within a definition of the natural that the organization constructs. I draw on Burke's (1966) notion of terministic screens as a theoretical framework through which sugar was positioned as the best sweetener option and HFCS and artificial sweeteners were isolated as unnatural and, therefore, unwise choices for consumers. Then, I argue that the association's definition of "the natural" was strategically ambiguous, serving to distinguish sugar from other sweeteners. I conclude by evaluating the soundness and sustainability of the association's discursive contributions to public understandings of health and its implications for key stakeholders in the sweetener community.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center