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WHO says sugar should ideally be below 5% of total energy intake per day

The great sugar debate, you’ve heard about this?  Unless you’re living in the dark ages you must have, it’s the Great Debate for 2014, the next thing that’s going to kill us and the reason for the national obesity rates to be so high.  That and lack of exercise, eating junk food and not cooking from scratch, of course.

The World Health Organisation is launching a public consultation on its draft guidelines on sugar intake.  In 2002 the WHO guildeline was 10%, it’s now looking like reducing to 5%.

When finalised the guildeline will provide countries with recommendations on limiting the consumption of sugar to reduce obesity and tooth decay.

Any idea what 5% of sugar looks like? It’s 25g, or 6 teaspoons, yep, that much, not a lot is it.  At the weekend my teenage daughter’s best friend bought a 1 litre carton of juice from M&S as she was thirsty.  She drank the lot as we were sitting in the changing rooms with daughter trying on heaps of bras and I checked the ingredients:

102 g sugar (teenager read it as 10.2g, only when I pointed out that that was per 100ml and she’d drunk a litre so times it by 10 = 102g, the same amount of sugar in 12 cupcakes) that’s 4 times the allowance suggested by the WHO

450 calories – just under 25% of her standard daily allowance and she didn’t feel full, just not thirsty any more.

She was quite horrified, if she’d just bought a bottle of water there would be no calories and no sugar.

I’ve just had a quick look in my fridge, there you go, honesty, this was interesting:

M&S Low fat yoghurt (that I have every morning for breakfast with granola) 11.9g sugar

Muller corner milk choc digestive yoghurts (my kids love) 17.5g sugar

San Pellegrino Lemonade (fabulously lemony and the kids are only allowed at the weekend and restricted to 1 a day) 33g sugar (more than the WHO daily guideline for adults)

Anchor Light cream has 4% sugar, why does cream need sugar added? This is crazy, 0.9g per serving

Nutella – sugar is the top on the ingredients list which means that sugar is the majority ingredient with hazelnuts listed at 13% and cocoa at 7.4%, there is 8.5g of sugar per serving.

David Greenwood-Haigh, a fabulous chocolatier and great pal of mine has created his own Chocolate Hazelnut spread which includes hazelnuts at 25% (instead of 3%) and reduces the sugar content to 3g per serving.  OK it’s still high in sugar but almost 1/3 of the content of Nutella, it contains higher percentage of hazelnuts and it really easy to make.  Plus you know exactly what’s gone into it as you’ve made it yourself.

The issue here is awareness, we are all told to eat fresh fruit and veg and smoothies are right on trend, so the thought of drinking fresh juice seems a great idea…..but it’s not, as fruit is loaded with sugar plus any extra sugar added during the processing of the juice.  Ooooh, looka here, that word ‘processing’, that should be the new ‘evil’ word of the moment along with sugar.

If we avoided anything pre-made, cooked or fiddled with by humans ie avoiding all ‘processed’ food we would cut our sugar (salt and fat) intake by a huge amount, OK the ready meals manufacturers wouldn’t make so much money but ready meals are fine, occasionally, just not every day as a standard meal.  We’d reduce food waste, food bills and eat healthier than we do now.

I may be shot down in flames for suggesting this but debating this in the car yesterday with one of my team the thought crossed my mind about ‘sugar rationing’, you know, like after the war. You have ration coupons so you are only allowed a certain amount of sugar.  OK so it does strike fear into the soul with thoughts of ‘big brother’ but you know what, if we can’t be trusted to be sensible about what we eat and control our food intake then why not?

As a nation we are slowly killing ourselves and our children and if we continue to eat poorly, becoming more obese as a nation and expecting all the health issues that stem from this be treated on the NHS, we have to suffer the consequences. Either NHS funding is restricted for people who refuse to eat well, exercise regularly or we take responsibility for our actions.  We have control over our hands putting food into our mouths, we have control over what we purchase at the supermarket, no one is forcing us to eat sugar therefore if we are unable to control these actions then we should suffer the consequences and maybe rationing is the way forward.  *ducks while things are thrown*.

A little of what you fancy is good, one cupcake occasionally is fine, just not the whole 12 in one go and never go back for ‘just one more’.  If you eat a cupcake then get off you backside and go for a long walk to work it off.  I’m a dreadful chocaholic, and I adore biscuits, in fact, I can’t have a cup of tea without a biscuit so I don’t have cups of tea if I want to cut back on sugar and lose a few pounds.  It’s hard, but we can’t keep eating like we do, things need to change, NOW.