As a nation we’re eating an awful lot of sugar. So could a simple cut to the added sugar in soft drinks help to reduce our over-consumption?
Many of us enjoy a sugary treat every now and again. Some of these treats are obvious – a slice of cake for example – but others are not so blatant in their sugar content, perhaps a glass of orange juice or lemonade. Well these sugary treats all have their consequences when consumed in excessive amounts.
According to a recent academic study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, a gradual reduction in sugars added to sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices by 40% over five years could lead to around half a million fewer adults being overweight and one million from being obese.
According to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), a large proportion of our sugar intake comes from sugary soft drinks. And particularly so among young people.
In fact, sugary drinks account for almost a third of a child’s daily sugar intake. So as well as halving recommended sugar intakes overall, the Committee recommended cutting consumption of these sugary drinks.
This latest study supports the need for more to be done to help people cut down. If manufacturers gradually reduced the sugar content in our food and drink in the first place, similar to what’s been done with salt, we’d all consume a lot less sugar without necessarily realising it. In turn, this would lead to longer-term health benefits.
If this study is accurate then it would prevent 274,000-309,000 cases of obesity-related type 2 diabetes over the following two decades.
But lowering sugar levels alone won’t be enough. Obesity and diet-related diseases have a complex mix of causes and require a broad range of actions.
It’s a sticky problem
From our research and that by others such as Public Health England, we know that other issues, such as the way that foods high in sugar are more heavily promoted in-store, or are still too heavily advertised to children clearly have an influence on what we eat and frustrate people too.
While food labelling has come a long way, there’s still a need for greater transparency about how much sugar is in some foods as some manufacturers still don’t put traffic light labelling on their products. Our research has regularly highlighted how there can be high levels of sugar in unsuspecting products, such as in some savoury ready meals for example.
Which is why we have stressed that these issues, along targets for sugar reduction, should be included in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, which is due to be published soon.
Do you think more needs to be done about sugar in soft-drinks? What about hidden sugar in our food?