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Post recommendation, free sugars may not be so ‘free’ anymore!

Posted:  Thursday, July 23, 2015

Do you like your favourite hot beverage with an extra cube or two of sugar? Then, it is time to kiss that habit goodbye for health’s sake. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), upon a request from the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency evaluated the effects of consuming carbohydrates, sugars, starch and fibre on a range of health outcomes. Based on the review, they have asked the UK government to cut down the intake recommendation of free sugars and also increase the recommended intake of dietary fibre in the population’s diet.

The review by the SACN revealed that higher intake of sugar was associated with greater risk of tooth decay and energy intake. In addition, high sugar beverages could not only result in weight gain and increase in body mass index (BMI) but also increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. In lieu of these findings, the SACN recommended the following:

- The average population intake of free sugars should not exceed 5% of the daily dietary energy intake. This translates to 19 grams or 5 cubes for children aged 4 to 6 years; 24 grams or 6 cubes for children aged 7 to 10 years; and 30 grams or 7 cubes for children aged 11 years and older.

- The term ‘free sugars’ should be used instead of terms such as ‘Non Milk Extrinsic Sugars (NMES)’ and ‘added sugars’.

- The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages such as fizzy drinks, soft drinks and squash should be minimised by both children and adults.

- The current recommendation on starchy carbohydrate consumption states that wholegrains should form 50% of the daily calorie intake wherever possible.

- Fibre intake should be increased for all age groups. Most specifically, 2 to 5-year olds should consume 15 grams; 5 to 11-year-olds should consume 20 grams; 11 to 15-year-olds should consume 25 grams; and those aged 16 and over should elevate their fibre intake to 30 grams a day.

"We have known for a number of years, and further evidence presented, shows that as a nation, we are consuming too much sugar,” said Chairman of the British Dietetic Association, Dr Fiona McCullough. She further added, “I also welcome the need to increase fibre in the nation's diet. The experts have presented credible evidence and the ball is now firmly in the Government's court to seize this opportunity to improve the nation's health.”

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