It appears that the U.S. isn’t the only country with an excessive sweet tooth. New recommendations have been introduced recommending another significant reduction in sugar consumption for the British population.
• Adults and children should get no more than 5%, down from the previous 10%, of their energy intake from ‘free’ sugars – this is equivalent to 5-7 teaspoons of sugar
• Sugar-sweetened beverages should be drunk as infrequently as possible by both adults and children
• The recommended fibre intake should increase to 30g per day (equivalent to about a quarter more than the old guidelines)
That’s a big change – so what happens next? And how is this linked to cancer anyway?
Importantly, there isn’t conclusive evidence that sugar itself causes cancer cells to grow or spread (despite persistent myths that claim there is). But what is crystal clear is that eating more sugary food and drink increases total energy intake, which can lead to being overweight or obese – the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking. Being overweight and not having a healthy, balanced diet causes 49,100 extra cases of cancer every year.
The UK consumes too much sugar. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that every age group exceeded even the previous guidelines – that people should get no more than 10% of their energy intake from free sugars. This is a particular problem for teenagers, who appear to get more than 15% of their energy intake from free sugars – three times the new guideline.
The new guidelines also reaffirm a definition for ‘free sugars’, which until now has not been a well-understood term. The Committee recommends that free sugars are defined as both sugars which are added to food by the cook, customer, or manufacturer (sugars like glucose and fructose), and sugars naturally present in products like honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.
Halving the recommended maximum level of sugar intake is a clear statement that the Committee agrees with the evidence that reducing the amount of sugar in our diets can have clear benefits for a person’s health.
FoodFacts.com knows that the whole world has a sweet tooth. We also know that it’s growing increasingly difficult for anyone to do anything about reducing their sugar intake while still relying on processed, prepared products. It’s the same story everywhere. The only remedy is cooking real food with fresh, whole ingredients in our own kitchens. When we take control of our diets, we take control of our health.