This year, Sugar Awareness Week is taking place on the 12th-18th November. But why is Sugar Awareness important?

It’s well documented that high-sugar diets are associated with a greater risk of Weight Gain, Tooth Decay, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and other health problems. To prevent this, we should be limiting our free sugar intake, as the role of refined sugar on our health is simple – it has zero nutritional value. Free sugars are those which are added to foods such as cakes and coffee. However, free sugars can also occur naturally in some foods such as honey and unsweetened fruit juices.  Therefore the recommended intake of fruit juice is 150ml per day.  Sugar can also be found naturally in Carbohydrates, Fruit and Vegetables but this doesn’t mean you should limit consumption of these foods as they provide additional vitamins and minerals. In fact fizzy drinks are the largest contributor to a high-sugar diet for most adults and children.

How much sugar is recommended?

Free sugar should account for no more than 5% of your daily energy intake. This is equivalent to:

  • 19g or 5 sugar cubes for children aged 4-6
  • 24g or 6 cubes for children aged 7-10
  • 30g or 7 cubes for 11 years and over.

Sugar labels

Food packs provide a list of total sugars per 100g or 100ml.

  • High-sugar foods contain 22.5g and above per 100g
  • Low-sugar foods contain 5g or less per 100g
  • High-sugar drinks contain 11.25g and above per 100ml
  • Low sugar drinks contain 2.5g or less per 100ml.

Tips

  • If you prefer fizzy drinks, try diluting a “no-added-sugar” squash with sparkling water.
  • Choose unsweetened wholegrain breakfast cereals (not frosted or coated in chocolate or honey)
  • Sweeten cereals with fruit, such as Berries, Banana or Dried Fruit.
  • Flavour foods with herbs and spices rather than sugar, these can have added nutritional benefits. Try Ginger, Turmeric, Nutmeg or Cinnamon.
  • Reduce sugar intake gradually in tea and coffee until you can drink the beverage without sugar.
  • Read food labels! Some foods may look healthy for example cereal bars, but they contain a high amount of sugar.
  • Buy plain yogurts and sweeten them yourself with 1 tea-spoon of honey or fruit and nuts. This way you can be in control of your sugar intake.

 

Phoebe Wharton

Registered Associate Nutritionist