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Fact factory - nutritional info and sugar facts

You’d be amazed at how much sugar is lurking about in our food - even the food that doesn’t taste sweet. It can do more harm to our kids that most people realise. Here are a few facts about sugar and where it’s hiding.

  • There are more than 7 teaspoons of sugar in the average can of cola.
  • The average person in Britain consumes about 700g of sugar a week* - that’s 140 teaspoons!
  • Sugar can even be in some baked beans and shop-bought pasta sauces.
  • Sugar can cause tooth decay - so encourage kids to clean their teeth regularly, especially after meals or sugary foods.
  • Too much sugar means excess energy, which can lead to stored fat in the body. And this can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Where is the sugar hiding?

Spoonful of sugar

There are lots of different words used to describe sugar - glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, corn syrup and honey - so it’s not just the word ‘sugar’ that you need to look out for. With so much added to foods these days, it’s hard to know what to buy.

Things like cakes, sweets, biscuits, jam, chocolate and fizzy drinks can be high in sugar, but some are worse than others. For example, wafer biscuits are a less sugary alternative to chocolate biscuits. And sugar-free versions are better still.

Traffic light food labeling system

Get the green light

Some foods have a traffic light system to show if they’re low in sugar. Coloured lights on the pack show you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. Red means high. Amber isn’t high, or low - and is an OK choice most of the time. But green means low, so try and choose green more often.

Your sugar intake - how much is too much?

As different brands put different amounts of sugar in their products, the only real way to tell how sugary something is, is to look at the label. This will usually show a 'guideline daily amount' or 'GDA' which will let you see how much of the total amount of sugar adults should have in a day.

What’s high sugar and what’s low sugar?

  • Anything over 15g of sugar is high, so try to eat these less often
  • Between 5g and 15g is medium
  • Healthier options have with 5g of sugar or less - this is low

*Source: NDNS 2000/01

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