How much sugar is really in our food?

Kiwis can now look up how much added sugar is in their food.

A database containing the basic nutritional information of common New Zealand food has added the categories of added sugar and free sugars in order to help Kiwis track their sugar intake.

Both categories refer to sugar that’s added to food during processing and represent sugar’s most unhealthy forms. 

Free sugars include sugars taken from sugar cane, coconut (coconut sugar) or corn (corn syrup) as well as honey and fruit juice and lowering their intake has been shown to help reduce diseases, such as diabetes, and for reducing tooth decay. 

“Estimating levels of added sugars can be challenging as most national food composition databases do not include data on added and free sugars,” a statement from Plant & Food Research (PFR) read.

A search for muesli within the database showed that Hubbards' Simply Toasted Muesli Apricot contained 13 percent of a person’s daily recommended sugar intake with all 11.3 grams classed as free sugars. 

Meanwhile, a V energy drink contains 29 percent of a person’s daily recommended sugar intake per serving with all 25.8 grams also categorised as free sugars.

A recent study authored by New Zealand researchers Gerhard Sundborn, Bodo Lang and Simon Thornley found that these kinds of sugary drinks are more dangerous to our health than sugary food.

Sugar in liquid form, like soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juice, has a higher likelihood of causing illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, gout and heart disease than in solid food, the researchers found.

It has been estimated that there are 184,000 premature deaths each year globally attributed to sugary drinks, with most dying from diabetes.

The new food statistics have been compiled by PFR and Otago University, funded by the Ministry of Health, and are posted on the website