The government’s expert nutrition committee, SACN, has published a report proposing changes to the way that dietary guidelines for sugar are presented.
So what is classed as a bad sugar?
The current intakes of NMES are 11.5% total energy in adults and 15-16% total energy in children.
This classification is only used in the UK and was justified at the time as experts believed that sugars found in milk and whole fruit weren’t harmful to teeth.
Sugar links with Health problems
· Cardiovascular Disease
· Blood Pressure
· Blood Lipids or Blood Glucose
· Diabetes Risk
· Colon Cancer
Surprised? So is sugar demonised by the media as plays on our fears and sells stories?
However, it’s not all wrong as links were found between sugar-sweetened drinks (not the food) and higher BMI and type 2 diabetes, and a link between sugar consumption in general and tooth decay. Tooth decay is a big problem in the UK so we really need to think about this link too when we eat and drink, particularly what we give our children.
While sugar isn’t a direct cause of obesity, it contributes calories to the diet which may lead to overconsumption and excess weight gain.
For these reasons SACN decided to lower the population dietary targets to 5% of total energy and change the sugar definition to ‘free sugars’ which no longer includes a proportion in canned or dried fruits.
If the government accepts this advice from SACN, the population target of free sugars will become approx 30g (5 teaspoons) per day in older children and 25-35g (5 -7 teaspoons) daily in adults.
This is a big reduction from the previous target and will prove challenging to achieve. However these figures represent a population target and individual targets will remain at 10% total energy. (50-70g free sugars daily).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) proposed the same 5% energy population target earlier this year based on studies showing how sugar consumption relates to obesity and tooth decay in adults and children. The dental evidence for a 5% reduction although was clinically sufficient was judged to be ‘very low quality’ by researchers.
To conclude the health evidence recommending the reduction in sugars relate to the risk of tooth decay and potential weight gain given that sugar represents calories. SACN didn’t find any other health effects despite reports in the media suggesting links with diabetes, obesity and addiction. DRVs may be changed in the future to adopt SACN’s recommendations individual targets remain the same. Unfortunately shoppers may get confused with food labelling highlighting total sugars not free or added sugars.