The Sugar Timebomb
By Megan Smiley, Oct 23 2015 04:52PM
Yesterday, Public Health England (PHE) released their long awaited report into sugar. There's no surprise in the fact that it clearly states that sugar consumption in this country is out of hand and if action isn't taken, weight gain and health related issues will increase even further from the current worrying levels we're already at.
With almost 25% of adults in England classed as obese and significant numbers also being overweight, and treatment of obesity and its consequences (type-2 diabetes being one of the most significant) already costing the NHS £5.1bn every single year, if we let this problem escalate further there will be not only catastrophic health, but also economic issues.
The Scientific Advisory Committee of Nutrition (SACN) have recommended the public to halve their sugar intake, so that just 5% of their calories come from sugar. This currently looks pretty unachievable without some drastic change. One can of fizzy drink contains way over the amount of sugar to stick to the 5% recommendation.
I strongly believe that Government, organisations such as PHE, SACN and food manufacturers have a vital and urgent role to play in this battle, and if the recommendations in PHE's report, listed below are fulfilled then this would definitely be a start to addressing this problem.
* A sugar tax between 10% and 20%
* Significantly reducing advertising high sugar food and drink to children
* Targeting supermarkets, takeaways and other food outlets special offers and promotions
* Setting clear definitions for high sugar foods to help create better regulations
* Sugar reduction in everyday food and drink
* Ensure the sale of healthier foods in hospitals and other public places
* Ensure training in diet and health is delivered to influencers of food choices in catering, fitness and leisure sectors
* Continue to raise awareness of this issue to the public, health professionals, employers, the food industry and provide and encourage practical steps on how to reduce sugar intake
The last point above touches on this: it is also down to individuals. Yes, the public needs more information and needs educating, and to not be tricked or persuaded into marketing traps e.g. low fat foods being healthy options when they're actually loaded with extra sugar. But, ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their own health and look after their bodies.
The sugar crisis is pretty much due to added sugar – yes, all sugar is sugar. However when you have a piece of fruit yes, it contains fructose but also vitamins, minerals and fibre. Plus not many people eat excessive amounts of fruit like they do cakes/ biscuits/ fizzy drinks etc. Processed sugary foods like that have very little, if any nutritional value; this is why they're known as “empty calories”.
So, guess what? Yes that's right, if people avoid/reduce processed foods and eat natural unprocessed foods then this problem would slowly but steadily disappear!