News and views on the latest health issues

Articles


Articles

How to curb your enthusiasm for sugar

Publish date: 16/01/2017

We all know that fizzy drinks tend to contain a lot of sugar, but are you aware of less obvious foods and drinks that contain the sweet stuff? We take a look at the impact of sugar in our diet and suggest ways to decrease the amount we consume.

According to the British Medical Journal, too much sugar is linked to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, gum disease and other health problems.¹

Concerns about our national sweet tooth have now reached such a level that the UK Government is introducing a new sugar tax on the soft drinks industry from April 2018, to protect children’s health. The levy hopes to generate close to £1.5 billion between 2018-21, which the Government intends to invest in primary school sport.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, Cardiologist and Science Director of Action on Sugar, says: ‘Aside from being a major cause of obesity, there is increasing evidence that added sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.’

‘Added sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever, and causes no feeling of satiety.’

How much sugar is in our diet?

There are many foods which are high in sugar which you may not be aware of. Whilst many of these (e.g. fruit smoothies) contain key nutrients, eating a large amount of these foods can also contribute to you becoming overweight. Take a look at our graphic below to see how your breakfast contributes to your daily sugar intake.

As you can see, it’s quite easy to consume half a dozen sugar cubes each morning, with those stopping for a large Caramel Macchiato with vanilla syrup and skimmed milk drinking an astonishing 14 sugar cubes in one sitting.

Try to eat no more than 30g of sugar per day (for those 11 and over) for a healthy, balanced diet, and remember to look at the wider nutritional value of foods (e.g. fat content) in addition to sugar.

 sugar info-graphic

How can you help reduce your sugar intake?

Small lifestyle changes can help you to cut excess sugar from your diet. Some tips that the NHS recommend include:

  • Don’t take sugar in your tea: Reduce the amount of sugar in your tea and coffee until you adjust to the taste.
  • Cooking from scratch: This means you know how much sugar is going into your food.
  • Swap sugary snacks: Fill the biscuit gap with oatcakes or rice cakes.
  • Drink more water: Dehydration can make us hungry so make sure you drink enough.
  • Eat fruit whole: Eating fruit instead of drinking it is more satisfying than fruit juice.

References

¹http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3428


Sign up to our monthly newsletter, Better Health, to receive our latest health and wellbeing updates.


Sign up for Better Health

Ask the expert

Got a question?
Our team of medical experts are ready to help.

Related questions to our experts

Q.

Had surgery to remove an adeno-carcinoma in upper right lung last November (lobectomy). Am just finished with chemo. Where does this type of cancer migrate to in the body. I have to say they foind two affected lymph nodes in the centre of my chest and removed them at the time of th surgery. I want to know what to watch for because I know cancer can reoccur at any time.