Sugar is making us fatter and sicker. Yet we still dont realise how much were feeing. As the government envisaged enforcing a tax, we look at how to cut down without missing out. Plus: alternative recipes
The shocking truth about our sugar habits comes out of the mouth of babes. It is not unheard of for me to remove all 20 newborns teeth from a two-year-old child, says Claire Stevens, a consultant in paediatric dentistry. This is an extreme case but even on a normal day she can easily find she has extracted more than 100 teeth after seeing her roster of young patients. What frustrates her most is that dental deterioration is almost always preventable. Food industry giants peddling sugary treats may try to blame fat when it is necessary to obesity, but it is not fat that is rotting their teeth. Meanwhile, the latest figures show that around two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese.
We are eating too much sugar and it is bad for our health, summarised Public Health Englands robust report Sugar Reduction: the Evidence for Action( pdf ), in October 2015. It is convinced of sugars link to obesity, the cost of which is PS5bn a year, and expected to double over the next 25 years.
As part of the report, PHE published guidelines on sugar intake. You might guess a vanilla latte and a blueberry muffin a harmless enough breakfast; in fact, together they offer more than the total daily intake of added sugars recommended for adults around 30 g( the equivalent of around six teaspoonfuls) a day.
Last week, Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum recommended action to reduce the sugar uptake of children and teens after its study procured that not only could 700,000 new cases of cancer be linked to obesity and excess weight over the next 20 years, but so could millions of cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. A third of children aged 10 to 11 are already above a healthy weight and once that happens, it often continues into adulthood, as the public health statistics grimly demonstrate.
Healthcare specialists have been advising about the results of rising obesity for nearly 15 years. However, merely over the past few months has the link with sugar was beginning to hit home. Campaigns, such as Jamie Olivers Sugar Rush last August, highlighted just how much is added to our food. This was followed by a sugar awareness week by Action on Sugar. This year the pressure continues to build. Last week was obesity awareness week, known as JanUary. And a new public health campaign called Sugar Smart has been launched by Change4Life, aimed at helping people to attain healthier food choices. Mothers will shortly be receiving leaflets via their childs primary school, while TV and digital slots are helping to carry the message. As part of the campaign, there is a free Sugar Smart phone app that enables you to see the amount of total sugar in a product, simply by scanning the barcode.
These campaigns all acknowledge that there is no magic solution it requires a combination of measures. But the one step they seem to agree on is a tax on sugary drinkings, something that as late as October 2015, the governmental forces refused to consider, partly due to its nanny state connotations, as well as, we can presume, enormous lobbying from industry. However, pressure from the health hall, coupled with national is supportive of sugar reduction from supermarkets Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons, the Co-op and Asda has forced it to take another appear. Many adolescents drink a can of soft drink a day. With around nine teaspoonfuls of sugar in a can, this alone moves them over recommended guidelines with scant( if any) nutritional benefit. If cost persuaded them to opt diet versions instead, it would make a real change to their health. PHE has suggested taxing sugary soft drinks at 20%; others believe it should be higher. The tax should be 50% if it is to reduce consumption, says Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum.
The pressure is on. In February, the government will announce a strategy on childhood obesity and it is believed that this may finally include that taxation on sugary drinkings. But even if this happens, it will only go so far. With around a quarter of adults now classed as obese, it is time that we really questioned our food choices.