If you’ve got a sweet-tooth you could be in for a shock, The World Health Organisation has warned that the average adult’s daily sugar consumption should be halved to six teaspoons of “free” sugar to help reduce health problems such as obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. The WHO suggests children should consume even less than six teaspoons.
Research shows that many of the food and drink products we consume every day use up our sugar allowance in one fell swoop while others actually exceed the amount of sugar you should have during the entire day.
If we consider 4g of sugar as equivalent to one teaspoon, Coca Cola Original (330ml) has nine teaspoons of the sweet stuff, Mars chocolate bar (51g) has eight spoons and Red Bull energy drink (250ml) has seven teaspoons.
Even treats that you may expect to be healthy, such as Sainsbury’s strawberry and banana smoothie (250ml) exceed the six teaspoon limit – the drink contains seven teaspoons of sugar.
Action on Sugar – modelled on the successful Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) – aims to help the public avoid products “full of hidden sugars” and encourage manufacturers to reduce the ingredient over time.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, descried these products as “mini health time bombs.”
“The amount of sugar in some of these products is really quite staggering, with many exceeding the safe recommended limits advised by the World Health Organisation.
“Perhaps now it is time for health warnings on food similar to what exists on cigarette packets, to help consumers make more informed choices,” he said.
Earlier this year, Susan Jebb, head of diet and obesity research at the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research unit in Cambridge, spoke to The Sunday Times about the hidden sugar in products such as fruit juice.
“I would support taking it [fruit juice] out of the five-a-day guidance,” she said. “Fruit juice isn’t the same as intact fruit and it has got as much sugar as many classical sugar drinks. It is also absorbed very fast so by the time it gets to your stomach your body doesn’t know whether it’s Coca-Cola or orange juice, frankly. I have to say it is a relatively easy thing to give up. Swap it and have a piece of real fruit. If you are going to drink it, you should dilute it.”
We certainly don’t think it’s easy to ditch the sweet treats, and Blogger for The Huffington Post and health coach Sarah Wilson explains why we may be struggling with our sweet-tooth: “We’re actually biologically programmed to binge on it [sugar] and to be obsessed by it. This is because it’s such a fantastic way for us to get instantly… yes… fat. Back in caveman times, when we needed as much fat as we could get and sugar was very rare (a few bitter berries here and there), this made sense”, she said.
“Today, of course, these cravings land us in dire trouble and we have to fight our craving.”