Many children and adults in the UK are consuming at least twice the recommended amount of sugar.
Why does it matter?
Eaten in the right amounts, sugar is not harmful. But if we eat too much, it floods the bloodstream and in response our pancreas over-produces insulin. Our bodies cannot burn off excess sugar so it gets stored as fat. This can lead to serious health conditions such as obesity and diabetes, as well as causing tooth decay.
How much is too much sugar?
The recommended maximum daily allowances for children and adults are:
4-6 year olds: 5 sugar cubes or 19g of sugar
7-10 year olds: 6 sugar cubes or 24g of sugar
11+ year olds and adults: 7 sugar cubes or 30g of sugar
Which sugars should be avoided?
The real danger comes from what’s known as ‘added sugar’. This means sugar - most commonly table sugar (the white, powdery stuff), honey and syrups, which is added to food and drinks while they are being made. Added sugar is found in fizzy drinks, chocolate, cakes and ketchup. Added sugar is found in all sorts of surprising foods so we need to know how to spot it.
Are some sugars OK to eat?
Yes. There is no need to worry about the sugars found naturally in fruit, vegetables, plain milk and plain yoghurt as the health benefits from these foods outweigh the damage caused by sugar.
Fruit juices and smoothies are a special case. When fruit is blended or juiced it releases the sugars, which increases the risk of tooth decay. They should be consumed at a maximum of 150ml (one glass) a day and only during mealtimes to lessen the impact of the sugar on teeth.
For additional information and advice, the NHS website explains more about how sugar in our diet affects our health.