Sugar is an added sugar that has only recently entered our diet. It was introduced when sugar from beet, sugar cane, and corn became cheaply produced. This is an unnecessary part of your calorie intake. It has no nutritional value and gives you no sense of fullness.
Sugar is added to food by the food industry at an increasing rate. This is largely hidden from consumers, who are unaware.
It may not surprise you that Coca-Cola contains nine teaspoons of added sugar (35g). However, similar amounts of sugar can also be found in other foods such as flavored waters (Volvic Touch Fruit Lemon/Lime, 27.5g per 500ml), vanilla yogurt (Yeo Valley Family Farm Vanilla Yogurt, 20.9g for a 150g pot), tomato soups (Heinz Classic Tomato Soup, 14.9g for a 300g portion), prepared meals (Pot Curry King Pot
If you choose a yogurt with 0% fat, what happens if the yogurt also contains five teaspoons of added sugar? What about these?
Not the usual suspects Sugar: Action is needed
This sugar is clearly a factor in the rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Leading health experts have come together to combat hidden sugar and expose it so that consumers can make more informed choices about the food and drinks they consume.
The model is similar to the one pioneered by Consensus Action on Salt and Health, which was successful in convincing companies and manufacturers over time to reduce the salt content of products by setting targets and mobilizing public awareness.
The salt content of food products has been reduced in supermarkets by 20-40%. As a result, the UK’s salt consumption dropped by 15% between 2001 and 2011, the lowest figure in any developed country. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, this has reduced stroke and heart attack deaths by at least 9,000 each year. This will save approximately 1.5bn per year.
It could be equally practical and effective to reduce added sugars in the UK diet by implementing a similar program of gradually reducing sugar added to food and drinks without substituting any food. Over five years, a reduction of 20-30% in the amount of sugar added to foods and beverages would be possible. This would result in an average daily calorie intake of 100kcal, helping to reverse obesity rates.
Sugar and salt share many similarities. Sugar is also hidden in soft drinks and processed foods, just like salt. Sugar has specific taste receptors that become more sensitive if the sugar intake is reduced gradually. Over time, we may not notice the sugar levels dropping.
It should be a success if we can convince the Department of Health of the importance of this program in reducing childhood obesity and preventing dental disease.