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Are Australians addicted to sugar?

Research 4 Jul 2016
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One in two Australians have more than their recommended sugar intake, according to new Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.

Over 52% of Australians usually exceed the World Health Organization's recommendation that so-called free sugars make up less than 10% of their total energy intake every day. Free sugars include sugar that's added during food and beverage processing and preparation as well as honey and the sugar naturally found in fruit juice.

Louise Gates, the Director of Health at the ABS, says the new report shows that the average person consumes about 60 grams a day of free sugars (that’s equivalent to about 14 level teaspoons of white sugar). Males aged 14-18 years were the biggest fans of sugar, averaging about 22 teaspoons a day. Those aged between 51 to 70 years were least likely to exceed the recommendations (38% of males and 35% of females).

Jean Hailes dietitian Anna Waldron says that about half of the free sugars consumed are from drinks, mainly soft drink, sports and energy drinks and fruit juice. As a first step, we should look at what we’re drinking and try to cut down on any drinks that contain sugar. In food, much of the free sugars comes from discretionary foods such as cakes, muffins, lollies, chocolate, cereal bars and sweet biscuits.

"There are many healthier snacks that will also provide lots more nutrition," says Ms Waldron. "For example, a handful of nuts, fresh fruit, wholegrain biscuits with cheese or dip and yoghurt. These are the snacks we should be having on a daily basis and having the higher sugar and more processed options only occasionally. Next time you feel like a sugary snack, think about whether you really want that muffin with your coffee and is there an alternative drink you can have instead of a soft drink?"

Read more about what you can do to ensure you eat the healthiest diet you can or visit the Jean Hailes Kitchen for some cooking inspiration and tips.