Fine Gael Senator for Dublin, Catherine Noone, has today (Thursday) called for sugar levels in treats and fizzy drinks to be capped at 20%. Senator Noone proposed the measure following a World Health Organisation recommendation that no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar should be consumed in 24 hours.
WHO actually recommends that no more than 10 per cent of calories come from sugar. This works out as 12 teaspoons a day for women. They have opened a consultation about whether this should be lowered, but the idea that the recommendation should be halved (ie. to six teaspoons for women) is supported by "poor quality evidence" and relates only to tooth decay, not obesity.
“The vast majority of people are totally unaware of how much sugar they are actually consuming,” said Senator Noone. “For example, there are an incredible 9 teaspoons of sugar in a can of cola and 11 in a caramel Frappuccino.
“Even among those who are making a conscious effort to be healthy, many people don’t realise that the low fat options like yogurts, cereal bars, juice boxes etc. are often full of sugar to improve the taste.
“New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has concluded that sugar is more nefarious health-wise than fat.
That study actually shows that people enjoy eating sugar more than they enjoy eating fat. Unless enjoyment per se is viewed as nefarious by politicians—a possibility that certainly cannot be discounted—Noone has misrepresented the findings.
Meanwhile, other experts in the field have said sugar is as threatening to our health as tobacco.
A few quacks have made this claim, it is true. Experts, on the other hand, have said that such a comparison is "alarmist and misleading".
“Almost all chocolate bars contain between 30% and 60% sugar. The taste buds then adapt to this level of sugar, which in turn cause cravings and sugar addictions. In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has compared sugar addiction to drug addiction.
“The most terrifying part of the sugar crisis is that the majority of people simply don’t know that it’s happening. Who among us would eat a chocolate bar knowing it contains 60% sugar, never mind give it to our children?"
I know chocolate contains a lot of sugar because (a) it says so on the wrapper, and (b) I am not a moron. And yes, I would (a) eat a chocolate bar, and (b) give a chocolate bar to a child. As far as I am concerned, chocolate is primarily for children. Children eat sweets. Adults drink beer. That's how it works.
"The public expect a certain amount of sugar in treats but not over 50%."
Really? Why do you think they are called 'sweets'? What do you suppose makes them sweet? When you see sherbert or candy floss, what do you think the primary ingredient is? Lobster? Long grain rice?
I can't speak for the Irish public, but I suspect that they know that there is a lot of sugar in sugary treats.
Pressure must now be put on the Food manufacturers to assume a duty of care to their customers; they should cap the levels of sugar and sweetners for chocolate and other such treats at 20%.
What does that even mean? In what sense is a chocolate bar 50 or 60 per cent sugar? Are you measuring it by weight? By size? Neither of those make any sense. Or perhaps you mean as a proportion of total calorie content? If so, then it is mere tautology to say that a high proportion of calories in sweet products are made up of sugar. Your ridiculous idea would ban sweets almost by definition.
“In addition the issue of misleadingly labelling food as a 'low fat’ option when it is full of sugar, must also be addressed as a matter of urgency."
How should products that are low in fat be labelled? As 'high fat'? With a skull and crossbones?
Let's not forget why there are so many low fat products with added sugar in the first place. It is because of the 'scientific consensus' about killer saturated fat convinced governments around the world to bully food producers into reducing fat in food products, to which they added sugar to make them palatable. It has since been shown that saturated fat is not as 'nefarious' as the denizens of public health claimed at the time and we now seem destined to go through the whole panic again with sugar taking the place of fat as public enemy number one. And when the unintended consequences of this panic become clear in twenty years time we will have cretins like Senator Noone to thank.