If you’ve been following current affairs in the UK over the last few weeks, then you’ll be aware that a new sugar tax is set to hit the soft drinks industry. For health campaigners, the move is a significant victory in the battle against the obesity epidemic that has started to envelope the country over the last decade.
The new levy will start by cracking down on the fizzy drinks industry. For now, pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be excluded, and smaller producers will be exempt.
Was this move really necessary?
Well, when you consider that the typical can of fizzy drink contains up to, and sometimes over, 9 teaspoons of sugar, and that this has zero nutritional benefit, then the answer is surely a resounding Yes.
The trouble is, sugar isn’t present in high quantities in fizzy drinks and fizzy drinks only. Even if you don’t touch the stuff, if you eat processed food at any point during the week then you are still likely ingesting surprising amounts of sugar.
Hidden Sugar in Your Diet
You might think that by avoiding chocolate, sweets and fizzy drinks you’re sure to be in the safe zone when it comes to sugar. However, according to BBC’s Good Food website, the vast majority of foods advertised as ‘diet’ or low-fat often include extra levels of sugar to balance flavours and add bulk and texture in order to compensate for the reduced fat.
Savoury foods like ready-made soups and sauces often contain added sugar, while some fruits (like apples) have been bred specifically for their sweetness. A single bowl of some breakfast cereals can contains up to 23 grams of sugar and even a single slice of bread can have around 16 grams!
When you’re shopping, take a look at the label on the packaging, specifically the figure under ‘carbohydrates – of which sugars’. Less than 5g of sugar per 100g is considered low, while more than 15g per 100g is high.
Why Is Sugar Bad for You?
There’s a reason sugar is cited as ‘the new tobacco’. We all know that overdoing the sugary treats can contribute to tooth decay, but what are the other reasons it’s considered to be so unhealthy?
- A high sugar intake can cause insulin resistance, which can in turn lead to diabetes.
- The negative effects that the carbohydrate has on metabolism can have cancer causing properties.tai
- Regular consumption of sugar encourages the accumulation of fat.
- It also raises cholesterol and contributes to heart disease.
And, like nicotine, sugar is also highly addictive. Experts attribute this to the huge dopamine rush we get after a binge, which leads us right back to the treats cupboard when we start to feel hungry.
How to Lower Your Sugar Intake
The Huffington Post has some good suggestions for reducing your sugar intake. Cutting out obvious sources such as fizzy drinks, fruit juices and sweets and chocolate is a good first step.
When you’re out and about, try taking low sugar snacks like fresh fruit, rice cakes and granola bars. This will help you to avoid the temptation of a sweet treat when you’re hungry. Finally, remember to keep an eye out for hidden sugars in processed foods by looking at the packaging on the label.