Today’s headlines report that children are consuming more than double the recommended amount of sugar on a daily basis. But what you might not realise is that, actually, we all are.
A report from Public Health England (PHE) found that adults are also consuming twice as much sugar as they should be, while teenagers consume triple the recommended daily intake.
It’s a worrying finding that shows we, as a nation, have an overwhelmingly unhealthy relationship with the white stuff – regardless of age.
Dr Helen Webberley, the GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, said she’s not surprised by the findings.
“Hidden sugars are everywhere,” she told The Huffington Post UK. “We all think about the obvious sweets and cakes, but what about the sugar in bread, cereals, ready meals, wine, juices and fresh fruit?
“For our body health we should try and stick to natural sugars and avoid refined sugars. For our dental health we should minimise the amount of time our teeth are in contact with sugar – whether natural or refined.”
The results from years five and six of the ‘National Diet And Nutrition Survey’, spanning 2012 to 2014, found that sugar makes up 13% of children’s daily calorie intake, which is more than double the official recommendation of the 5% limit they should have on a daily basis.
Teenagers consume three times the official recommendation for sugar (15%) and adults over twice as much (12%).
One of the report’s more positive findings was that children are consuming fewer sugary drinks, however more needs to be done overall to tackle the nation’s sugar addiction.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “While it is encouraging that young children are having fewer sugary drinks, they still have far too much sugar in their diet overall, along with teenagers and adults.”
Public Health England has launched a programme to challenge the food industry to remove at least 20% of the sugar in its products by 2020.
“It’s an ambitious programme, a world first, and will be a significant step on the road to reducing child obesity levels,” added Dr Tedstone.
Tedstone concluded: “This data provides compelling evidence that we all need to eat more fruit, veg, fibre and oily fish and cut back on sugar, salt and saturated fat to improve our health.”
Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed has advised people looking to cut down on their sugar intake to “opt for foods which have under five grams of sugar per 100 grams”.
“Additionally, making healthy snack swaps can help too. Swapping snacks is an easy win, as small changes can make big differences to sugar intakes,” she explained.
“For example, choose plain yogurts and lower sugar breakfast cereals, dilute fruit juices, and opt or smaller portion sizes of your favourite chocolates, biscuits or cakes. This can all help.”
Dr Webberley added: “By reducing your sugar intake you can teach your body to crave less sweet things.
“This can be easy when it comes to cutting down on the obvious sweets and treats, but it takes real dedication to seek out and eliminate those foods which contain hidden sugars.”
She said home cooking is a great way of eliminating hidden sugars “as you know exactly what is going into your food”.
“Teach your children to be sugar aware and when it comes to snacking, lead by example,” she concluded.
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