If sugar is hiding in all food then how can consumers limit their intake to only 5 percent of their daily diet? The new guidelines recommend a maximum sugar intake of 6 teaspoons a day, which equals to about 25 grams. The World Health Organization has come up with this recommendation based on the findings of the United Nations health agency. Their discoveries support a direct correlation between free sugars, weight gain and tooth decay. Too much sugar can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and sugars most commonly associated disease, diabetes. Free sugars, also called refined sugars are those added to foods either by humans, manufacturers, or by animals. Natural sugars which are excluded from the newly recommended 6 teaspoons include sugars found in fruit, vegetables, and the natural sugars present in milk.
The World Health Organization had previously recommended sugar make up 10 percent of the daily diet, this is the first time in 10 years that there has been a change in the amount of recommended sugar consumption. Most if not all processed foods contain a large amount of free sugars. A can of soda can contain 39 teaspoons of sugar, more than 6 times the daily recommended amount. CTV News put out a report of foods not normally thought off as sugary, sugars that are in hiding. Among the many examples is a can of tomato soup, not particularly sweet tasting yet contains 12 grams of sugar. Another example was that of a ¾ cup of Honey Nut Cheerios which contains 9 grams of sugar. According to CBC the 4 main foods to avoid are soft drinks, fruit drinks, baked goods, and cereals, all which are loaded with unnecessary added sugars. The Daily Mail has also set out a list of items to be avoided, among these are chocolate bars which contain 6 to 7 teaspoons, while ready-made meals may contain more than 8 teaspoons. A simple coffee based drink like a caramel frapucino contains 11 teaspoons, almost double the recommended daily intake.
Consumers will now face the challenge of informing themselves of which foods to avoid, given most of these sugars are in hiding. Many countries around the world have already taken the initiative to take out vending machines that serve soda’s and instead replace them with vending machines that provide water and juice. Others are proposing a tax on added sugars, supporters believe this would force manufacturers to slowly reduce the sugars added to their products. Others believe it is about educating people on how to properly read nutrition labels. Forbes reports that the obesity epidemic in the US costs consumers an extra $7.5 billion in 2012. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reported that obese people spend on average $1,429 more on medical costs than people who are normal weight. Until manufacturers are forced to create changes, it will be up the consumers to educate themselves regarding appropriate nutrition. The upcoming nutrition food label makeover will also greatly benefit consumers given one of the categories on the proposed label is that of added sugars.
Opinion By Dony Lugo