Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Danger of Sugar

Cut sugar to just 5 teaspoons each day
  • ·         Officials urging people to have sugar intake to prevent soaring obesity levels
  • ·         Britons average 15 teaspoons per day - 330ml fizzy drinks contain seven
  • ·         Specialists want Government to force food producers to cut sugar levels 
  • ·         But Public Health England said it would merely 'consider' these ideas 

Under new sugar guidelines, women would be restricted to five teaspoons a day and men seven teaspoons

Officials are urging people to halve their sugar intake to as little as five teaspoons a day to prevent obesity levels continuing to soar.

But they have been accused of failing to take proper action against the food industry to  help the public meet the strict targets.

Guidelines from scientists advising Public Health England, the agency given the job of tackling obesity, yesterday stated that women should have no more than five to six teaspoons of sugar a day, and men seven to eight.

A 330ml can of fizzy drink contains around seven teaspoonfuls, so would meet this limit on its own.
Currently, Britons consume an average of 15 teaspoons daily, mainly due to the high volumes of sugar hidden in everyday items such as fruit juice, muesli, yoghurts, sandwiches and ready meals.

As reported in yesterday’s Mail, experts are advising parents to ban fruit juice, squash and soft drinks from the dinner table and give their children only water and milk.

Senior doctors and academics want the Government to force food manufacturers to cut sugar levels, ensure products are clearly labelled and impose a tax on soft drinks.
But Public Health England merely said it would ‘consider’ these ideas as part of a nine-month consultation process that will eventually report to ministers next spring.

PHE simply issued a document suggesting a number of ideas the Government could consider to help the public meet these targets.

These included fruit juice  and smoothies being banned  from the five-a-day fruit and  vegetable guidelines because they are so high in sugar.

The organisation – set up last year to tackle public health issues – also said it would ‘explore further approaches’ such as adding a tax to soft drinks and banning junk food adverts before the 9pm watershed.

Other plans include discouraging supersize portions at coffee chains, fast food outlets and cinemas.

But ministers last night remained non-committal and said the PHE document would help ‘inform’ the debate about sugar.

Around one in four adults are considered obese although this is predicted to rise to half the population by 2050, driving up levels of diabetes and heart disease.

Campaigners accused the officials of not doing enough to tackle the obesity epidemic.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘This is all delaying tactics. We’ve had delaying tactics from this government for years. They’re not going far enough.

‘We need tough, firm action with the industry. They need to take immediate action rather than sitting on the fence yet again.’

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist at Croydon Hospitals, South London, said: ‘This doesn’t address the availability of sugar everywhere. The food industry have not made any promises to reduce sugar.

‘We want this to be translated into something that’s meaningful for the public. We want them to slash their sugar levels by 40 per cent within four years.’

The Government has been accused of ‘cosying-up’ to the food industry and in so doing, failing to address the obesity epidemic.

Too much sugar in the diet is known to be one of the primary reasons for the obesity epidemic and rising rates of Type 2 diabetes
  • Its flagship obesity policy, the responsibility deal, allows food firms to set their own targets for cutting sugar, salt and fat and for clearly stating the number of calories that products contain.

    It has already emerged that five of the seven members of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which drew up yesterday’s guidelines on sugar, have financial ties to the food industry.

    They include the chairman, Ian MacDonald, professor of metabolic physiology at Nottingham University, who has worked as a paid adviser for Coca-Cola and Mars and whose research has been funded by Unilever, the world’s biggest producer of ice cream.

    Others include a consultant for the world’s largest chocolate producer, Barry Callebaut, and scientists whose research has been funded by Unilever.
    Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: ‘We want to help people make healthier choices and get the nation into healthy habits. This report will inform the important debate taking place about sugar.’

    Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: ‘We are very concerned about sugar intakes.’