Earlier in the year, I talked about how sugar consumption recommendations were slashed by the World Health Organization and discussed in real terms how much sugar we can consume daily when my blog was on Facebook (see here).
The UK governing body for nutritional recommendations, SACN, have now passed on their recommendations to the UK government regarding free sugars (sugar added to foods, either by us at home or during the manufacturing process), dietary fibre (the health-promoting element of carbohydrates that cannot be digested by humans) and use of wholegrains. These recommendations are being backed and supported by the British Dietetic Society, one of the governing bodies guiding dietitians.
So what are the recommendations?
– to reduce the amount of free sugars in our diet to 5% of our daily energy intake (30g for adults and 19-14g for children). 30g is equivalent to 6-7 teaspoons (roughly 6 chocolate digestive biscuits or 1 Crunchie bar; 1tsp sugar = 4.2g).
– manufacturers should adopt the term “free sugars” and drop the term “non-milk extrinsic sugars” – presumably because that’s a bit technical!
– consumption of dietary fibre should increase to 30g per day for adults, 25g for teenagers and 20g for children.
Read more from the British Dietetics Association or
Read more from the BBC or
Read more from the Public Health England
Dietitians are considered to be the only nutrition professional that is allowed to diagnose and treat nutritional disorders and use up-to-date scientific information. Nutritional therapists can also advise and guide on issues that don’t require dietetic help, but they are not regulated in the same way, and it is up to the individual therapist to keep up to date with science and nutritional guidelines as they do not have a governing body that guide them. Therefore, dietitians are likely to use and follow these guidelines, whereas nutritional therapists may not, and possibly adopt a more strict approach to free sugars.
Dr Malhotra on sugar (from Good Morning Britain)
Are “healthy foods” healthy? Guide to sugar in food.
Poor dental health and obesity in children and adults is increasing far too rapidly! We cannot just let this happen without trying to do something about it, we all need to take responsibility: food manufacturers, the government, health professionals, educators AND parents. All of us. Currently it feels like everyone is expecting someone else to deal with the problem, but that will resolve nothing!
I think the guidelines is a start, but it’s going to do little if we cannot easily track the amount of free sugars we consume. Most of us go to the supermarket completely ignorant of what is in our food; labelling is both inconsistent and confusing (although is a lot better than it used to be!).
And nutrition should be compulsory as part of health education in all schools from primary age. Why not empower kids?
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat.