Health experts prompting kids to halve sugar intake

  • 18/07/2015
(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

A can of fizzy drink contains more than the recommended daily amount of sugar for children under 11, according to new guidelines from British scientific experts.

A report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition advises the British government to halve the present recommended intake of free sugars in a bid to tackle the growing obesity and diabetes crises, estimated to cost the National Health Service a combined STG15 billion (NZ$35.93 billion) a year.

Free sugars are those that are added to food by manufacturers or those naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

The recommendations - that free sugars account for no more than five per cent of daily energy intake - are also hoped to reduce the risk of tooth decay - the number one cause of hospital admissions among children.

The guidelines say the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as fizzy drinks, soft drinks and squash, should be minimised by children and adults in particular because of their links to weight gain and the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Health experts said five per cent of daily energy intake is the equivalent of 19 grams or five sugar cubes for children aged four to six, 24g or six sugar cubes for children aged seven to 10, or seven sugar cubes for those aged 11 and over, based on average population diets.

They said an average can of fizzy drink contains about seven sugar cubes, while there are about eight in the average bowl of ice-cream.

The report from SACN - an independent body of expert nutritionists that advises the British government on matters relating to diet, nutrition and health - also advised that children and adults should increase the amount of fibre in their diet by eating more fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods.

It said those aged 16 and over should raise their intake of fibre to 30g a day, or 25g for 11 to 15-year-olds, 20g for those aged five to 11, and 15g for two to fives.

The report maintains the present recommendation that starchy carbohydrates - particularly wholegrain - should form 50 percent of daily calorie intake.