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Professor Ian MacDonald, chairman of SACN’s working group on carbohydrates, which has produced the draft guidance, said there were clear associations between high levels of free sugar intake and overall increased energy intake and obesity.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
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

    £35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most