Most of us eat more sugar than we should do, according to evidence from the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey. The World Health Organization also now says that our recommended added sugar limit needs to be halved.
A draft report from The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition advises that no more than 5% of our daily calories should come from added sugar, while WHO agree that this should be our target. The current recommendation is 11%, so if it’s halved that means our daily limit for added sugar would be about 25g or (if one teaspoon = 4g) roughly six teaspoons for an average adult – depending on how active you are. If we halve that amount for toddlers it’s about three and-a-half teaspoons of added sugar a day.
Gobbling loads of food and drink with added sugar might make us put on weight if we don’t exercise enough and that can lead to heart disease and diabetes and can rot our teeth. We all seem to be well aware that too much sugar isn’t much good for us, but our appetite for the sweet stuff means that we still indulge. We may also be downing much more sugar than we realise.
When did you last check exactly how much was added to that fizzy drink or fruit juice? Everything manufactured for us from biscuits and cakes to ready meals and sauces potentially has loads of sugar added. Soft drinks are an obvious culprit while it might surprise some people how much sugar is in seemingly healthy manufactured fruit juices and smoothies.
Science boffins are even arguing now about sugar being worse for us than salt. A potential ‘sugar tax’ was talked about last year that would make sugary stuff more expensive. Public Health England said fruit drinks were fuelling tooth decay in toddlers while campaigners from Action on Sugar called for fruit juice to be banished from our recommended five-a-day. Meanwhile, over in the US, the argument has gone all Hollywood blockbuster with ‘Fed Up’ – a film from the makers of ‘The Inconvenient Truth’ citing the sugary damage done by the American food industry.
So how can we stop ourselves sliding down the syrupy slope towards toothless obesity? Do we need a sugar tax or should we just take control of our diets, cut this carb ourselves and go sugar free? Or should the food manufacturers simply stop adding so much sugar?
by Bob Fear
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Images from Getty