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Sugar - public enemy no.1?

Sugar intakes for all population groups are above recommendations, according to Public Health England, contributing between 12%-15% of energy intake.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has concluded that the recommended average population maximum intake of sugar should be halved and not exceed 5% of total dietary energy.

The SACN believes that by meeting these recommendations, within 10 years the UK would not only improve the quality of life for thousands of people, but could also save the NHS a conservative £500m every year.

Just 9% of survey respondents knew the RI of sugar is 90g, 22 teaspoons, and 36% admitted to not having a clue. However, despite the huge shortfall in knowledge, 41.5% of respondents believed it to be lower than that, at 80g a day, indicating that at least messages about limiting daily sugar intake must be getting through.

Women were particularly cautious about the amount of sugar they think they should be consuming, with 47% of those questioned settling on 80g per day, compared to 36% of men. Just 7% and 12% respectively guessed right at 90g, while 37% (women) and 35% (men) admitted to not knowing.

For more information about how your body is affected by sugar visit our Sugar Bowl hub.

Which is healthier - fresh fruit or confectionary?

This may seem like a simple question, but, when quizzed on whether a medium-sized banana containing 14g of sugar or a Curly Wurly with 12.5g of sugar is better for you, a worrying number of respondents were completely bamboozled.

12% of all respondents chose the Curly Wurly, and a further 5% claimed not to know the answer. This confusion is almost certainly a result of the intense media (and sometimes health professional) demonisation of all sugar, regardless of source, that can confuse people into believing that they should always choose foods with a lower sugar content, even if the overall nutrient profile of that product is not good for them. The added benefits of the essential vitamins, minerals and fibres present in the banana will always be healthier than the processed additives in the Curly Wurly, but recent media scrutiny tends to focus on the sugar content alone – disregarding the other benefits of eating fruit – thus confusing consumers.

The uncertainty was most marked amongst the younger survey respondents, with 32% of 18–24 year-olds opting for the Curly Wurly and 22% of 25–34 year-olds.

Info 2016 11

 

Find out more about public attitudes to health and wellbeing in our National Health Report. 

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