Sugar Focus

September 14, 2017

As a nation – and even around the globe – we are eating far too much sugar every day, and our children are no exception. The intake of added sugars appears to be increasing steadily across the South African population. Avoiding the obvious sources is one thing, but added sugars can be found in many foods where you may not expect it.

South African children typically consume approximately 10-15 teaspoons (40-60 g) of added sugar, possibly rising to as much as 25 teaspoons (100g) a day in teenagers.

A study done in South African children showed the main sources of added sugar included white sugar, sugar-sweetened cool drinks (squash type) and carbonated soft drinks. Overweight and obesity was associated with higher added sugar intakes and children consuming more sugar had a lower intake of vitamins and minerals.

So it’s come as no surprise that in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that adults and children reduce their daily intake of ‘free sugars’, which includes added sugars, to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or 6 teaspoons (25g) per day would provide even more health benefits. That’s half the recommendation in place since 2002. We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. , ,

Free and added sugars
Free sugars are energy-providing sugars such as monosaccharides (e.g. glucose, fructose, galactose) and disaccharides (e.g. lactose, maltose and sucrose – (also called table sugar) that are added to foods and drinks during processing by the food manufacturing companies, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. Free sugars include ‘added sugars’. Free sugars exclude fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk.

Food label Savvy
The first step in reducing your family’s added sugar intake takes place when shopping. Make label reading a habit. Spotting added sugar on food labels can require some detective work. But, rather than obsessing over grams and teaspoons, focus on reducing added sugars by limiting products that contain them. Scan ingredient lists for added sugars.

Check the ingredient list for sugar or names such as glucose, sucrose or other words ending in ‘ose’ and syrups such as corn syrup, and molasses. Ingredients are listed by weight. The ingredient listed first is present in the largest amount and the last ingredient is present in the least amount.
KABRITA Instant Full Cream Goat Milk is available as an easy-to-use goat milk powder for the whole family; it’s free of added sugars and provides nutrients that support health.

The nutritional table shows glycaemic carbohydrates, these are carbs available to the body for energy. The total sugars mentioned includes all sugars, both those found naturally in the food (not listed separately in the ingredient list) as well as those sugars added to food (listed).

Drink this
For beverages, rather try water, goat milk or unsweetened tea. There’s no nutritional benefit to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. If unsweetened juice is used, dilute and drink in limited amounts.

Make a healthy relationship with food and regular activity the overall focus instead of a completely sugar-free diet – and save the sweet stuff for special occasions.

2 Position Statement on the Proposed Taxation of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in South Africa. March 2017
5 Monasta L, Batty GD, Cattaneo A, et al. Early-life determinants of overweight and obesity: a review of systematic reviews. Obes Rev. 2010; 11(10):695-708.
6 Naidoo, S. Oral health and nutrition for children under five years of age: a paediatric food based dietary guideline. S Afr J Clinical Nutr. 2013; 26:3 S50-55.

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