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Sugar intake should be drastically reduced, says report

11:00 EDT 17 Jul 2015 | NHS

"Sugar intake 'should be halved'," BBC News reports. The headline is prompted by a government report that recommends no more than 5% of our calorie intake should come from "free sugars". The previous recommendation was 10%.

The new advice says children aged 11 or over and adults should consume no more than seven teaspoons of added sugar a day – 30g, equal to less than a single can of Coca-Cola, which contains 39g.

Children should consume much less than that. The report recommends no more than 19g for children aged four to six (around the amount of sugar in a pouch of Capri Sun) and no more than 24g for children aged seven to 10 (around the amount of sugar in a Snickers bar).

The BBC tells us "all age groups in the UK consume twice as much as this limit", so the gulf between what is good for our health and what we actually do is now wider than ever. The main sources of free sugars are sugar-sweetened drinks, cereal, chocolate, sweets, fruit juice and added sugar at the table.

The Mail Online said that, "Hitting [this] new target will mean cutting out almost all fizzy drinks from diet" and that, "Crisps and chocolate bars will need to become [a] once or twice-week luxury".

Experts generally welcomed the new recommendations, considering them evidence-based and balanced. But some cautioned against too much of a focus on sugar, warning fat is also an important source of calories and should not be overlooked.

The government has reportedly accepted the new recommendations, which will be used as part of a wider strategy to tackle obesity.

This report confirms most of us are consuming way too much sugar and it is damaging our health and our kids' health. But it is one thing setting out what people should aspire to eat to be healthy and quite another making it happen.

Read more about practical ways to lower your free sugars to meet the new recommendations.

What is the basis for these reports?

The story follows new recommendations from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).

The SACN advises Public Health England, who run the NHS in England, and other government agencies and departments on nutrition and related health issues.

Dietary carbohydrates, which include sugar and fibre, and their role in health were last considered in reports published in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then considerable new evidence has emerged, SACN says.

In 2008, the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health asked SACN to provide clarification on the relationship between dietary carbohydrates and health and make public health recommendations. The new report was prepared in response to this request.

Links To The Headlines

Scientific experts: Sugar intake 'should be halved'. BBC News, July 17 2015

Halve the recommended daily amount of sugar in our diets, scientists tell government. ITV News, July 17 2015

Sugar should be no more than 5% of daily calories, say nutrition experts. The Guardian, July 17 2015

Remove sugary drinks from children's diets, health officials say. The Daily Telegraph, July 17 2015

Parents urged to cut sugary drinks out of their children's diets following landmark report. The Independent, July 17 2015

'Eat no more than SEVEN teaspoons of sugar a day': Government advisers tell families to slash intake by HALF (to less than one can of Coke). Daily Mail, July 17 2015

Now just ONE can of fizzy drink contains child's sugar limit - as official recommended daily amount is slashed in half for all. Daily Mirror, July 17 2015

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