Britons told to halve sugar intake to beat obesity

Under new guidelines an adult could no longer drink a can of Coca Cola or similar drink and stay within their daily allowance

Health Reporter

People should halve their daily intake of sugar to combat Britain’s obesity epidemic and protect children from diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay, Government health advisors have said.

In a potentially major shift to official dietary advice, experts said that free sugars – those found in sweetened drinks, fruit juice, confectionery, and added to a wide range of processed foods – should make up just five per cent of our daily energy intake.

For an adult this would mean that a single can of a typical soft drink such, which contains the equivalent of six to seven teaspoons of sugar, would represent almost their entire healthy allowance for the day.

Given the widespread use of free sugars in everything from ready meals to canned soup, this means that, realistically, an adult could no longer drink a can of Coca Cola or similar drink and stay within their daily allowance, experts said.

Government advisors from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) said that every single population group in England is already exceeding the current 10 per cent limit on sugar consumption.

Professor Ian MacDonald, chairman of SACN’s working group on carbohydrates, which has produced the draft guidance, said there were clear associations between high levels of free sugar intake and overall increased energy intake and obesity.

“There is also an association between sugar-sweetened beverages and type-2 diabetes,” he said. “In children there is clear demonstration that sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with obesity. By reducing it to five per cent you would reduce the risk of all of those things. The challenge will be to get there.”

The term "free sugars" does not include those found in fruit and milk – but does encompass sugars added to food by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

Public health minister Jane Ellison said that the new advice confirmed “eating too much sugar can have a significant impact on health”. SACN’s report will now be subject to a consultation, and final guidance will be published in March 2015 – at which time the Government will decide whether to change official dietary guidance. 

Along with the new guidance from SACN, officials from Public Health England yesterday launched an investigation into new ways to cut the nation’s sugar intake. Experts will consider a range of measures, including curbs on advertising to children, and “fiscal measures”, particularly on sugary drinks that could reduce consumption.

Other countries have introduced a tax on sugar or sugary products, particularly sweetened drinks. However, the Department of Health said that there were no current plans to introduce a "sugar tax".

Professor MacDonald said that staying within the new five per cent target did not necessarily mean reverting to a “boring, Second World War rationing diet”.

Swapping sugary drinks for water, chocolate for fruit, sugary cereal for porridge, and puddings for low fat yogurts would help consumers, said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England.

She added that there had been little improvement in the population’s overall sugar intake in five years, and that obesity was a “very difficult” problem for the UK, with two thirds of adults overweight or obese and one in three children leaving primary school overweight or obese.

“Being a little bit overweight, slightly podgy, is raising your risk of serious diseases including type-2 diabetes which will have potentially devastating effects on you and your families,” she said. “It could lead to you going blind and having feet amputated. You also raise your risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.”

The British Soft Drink Association (BSDA), which represents the majority of manufacturers, including Coca Cola, insisted that soft drinks could be part of a balanced diet.

Gavin Partington, BSDA’s director general said: “This year, major companies in the industry are increasing advertising spend on low- and no-calorie drinks by 49 per cent and sales of these products have already increased by five per cent over the last two years.”

Healthy eating: Suggested meals

Breakfast

Shreddies with semi-skimmed milk and raisins, two pieces of brown toast with reduced fat polyunsaturated spread and peanut butter, white tea (semi-skimmed milk)

Mid morning

White tea (semi-skimmed milk); apple

Lunch

Jacket potato (reduced fat polyunsaturated spread) baked beans with salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato) and low fat yoghurt, water

Afternoon snack

White tea (semi-skimmed milk), banana

Evening meal

Fish pie with peas, strawberries and single cream, low calorie fizzy diet drink

Source: Public Health England

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Day In a Page

    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions