We all know that we should consume less sugar and the World Health Organisation has issued its latest recommendations for cutting down on the sweet stuff. The new WHO guidelines strongly suggest that adults and children should reduce their intake of free sugars by roughly half – to less than 10 per cent of their daily calories.
However, to accrue the most health benefits, this figure should actually be as low as 5 per cent. That’s the equivalent of just 25g, or six teaspoons, a day. Currently in the UK the average person gets around 16-17 per cent of their calories from sugar, compared to 11-15 per cent in the US and 7-8 per cent in Hungary and Norway.
The guidelines don’t apply to naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and milk, since they come with essential nutrients. In fact, most free sugars are added to products by food manufacturers and are effectively “hidden” in a large spectrum of processed foods.
And you may be shocked to find out just how much sugar is in these common products:
1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4g, or 1 teaspoon, of sugar
the average can of fizzy drink (not diet) contains up to 40g, or 10 teaspoons, of sugar. That’s more than the recommended 5 per cent in just a few slurps.
For many it’s a daily staple, but two slices of white bread contain around 2g, or half a teaspoon, of sugar.
The higher sugar content of the breakfast food is now widely known. Many pouplar brands of cereal contain 9-10g, or more than 2 teaspoons, of sugar per serving.
While not always obviously sweet, these tend to be packed with sugar. Last year a Which survey found that supermarket ready meals can contain up to 50g of sugar – that’s 10 teaspoons. Dishes containing sweet, sticky sauces were found to be among the worst offenders, including sweet and sour chicken and pad thai.
You may think you’re choosing the healthy option with a salad, but the benefits can be quickly outweighed by your choice of dressing. Popular creamy flavours can contain up to 2g, or half a teaspoon, of sugar in a single 15ml serving.
It’s packed full of potassium and healthy fats, but check the label carefully. Some brands contain added sugar, meaning that a typical serving (2 tablespoons) can contain 7g, or 2 teaspoons of sugar.
According to the WHO, global sugar consumption is up by about 10 per cent, from a daily average of about 58g per person in 2003 to 63g in 2013.