Why Sugar Can Kill You: Part 2 – What YOU Can Do About It

Killer Donuts

In Part 1 I outlined the dangers of excess sugar intake, so what do we do now. How do we tackle our sugar consumption effectively?

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that 'free sugars' should account for no more than 5% of everyone’s daily dietary energy intake, which is a giant leap from the previously recommended 10%.  So, for the average population, here’s a guide to what that might look like:

  • Children aged 4-6 years - 19 grams (or about 4-5 teaspoons)
  • Children aged 7-10 years – 24g (5-6 teaspoons)
  • Children 11+ years and adults – 30g (6-7 teaspoons)

What’s meant by 'free sugars' is key:  

SACN defines these sugars as 'those added to food or those naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices, but exclude lactose in milk and milk products'1.

So, at the end of all this, the real question is... how does this relate to every-day life?

Why not try to keep a food diary for the next few days – include the weekend if you can – and then do a 'sugar audit' to see for yourself how sugar reckons in your daily diet.  You might be quite surprised!  You can also find practical tips on how to reduce your sugar intake from the Change4Life programme at: http://www.nhs.uk/Change4Life/Pages/low-sugar-healthy-snacks.aspx 

And finally…

The SACN report didn’t just look at sugar; it also looked at the amount of carbohydrates and fibre being consumed, and how this links to health outcomes.  The current recommendation that starchy carbohydrates, wholegrain where possible, should form 50% of daily calorie intake is maintained, and fibre intakes have increased across all age groups as follows 1:

  • Adults aged 16 and – 30g a day
  • Children aged 11 to 15 – 25g a day
  • Children aged 5 to 11 – 20g per day 
  • Children aged 2 to 5 years – 15g per day

We're going to have our work cut out for us to support each other in meeting the recommendations, but if we’re serious about our health, it will be well worth it. Happy sugar-swapping everyone...

...and remember, life CAN be sweet with less sugar!

References:

  1. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2015). Carbohydrates & Health.

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