So the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has just come out with a new recommendation for sugar intake – suggesting a drastic reduction with free sugars accounting for no more than 5% of daily energy intake. That equates to 30 grams or 7 sugar cubes per day for anyone 11 years and over. Just one can of Coca Cola contains 39 grams of sugar, while a 7-11 32 oz Big Gulp of coke has 91 grams.
Free sugar is defined by the World Health Organization and the US Food and Agriculture Organization as “all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, and fruit juices.”
Professor Ian Macdonald, chair of the working group of the Committee, said: “The evidence is stark – too much sugar is harmful to health and we all need to cut back.”
By the way, Professor Macdonald is a nutritionist who worked in the past for Coca-Cola and the Mars candy company. And an investigation by the UK’s Channel 4’s Dispatches program, revealed that 5 of the 8 members of the Government’s Scientific Committee on Nutrition received funding from large confectionery companies.
Of course this new advice didn’t go down well with the food industry. Dr Alison Boyd, who happens to be the director of the lobby group Sugar Nutrition (maybe they don’t know sugar has no nutritional value!), had this comment: “The conclusion in the report that ‘free sugars’ should not exceed 5% of total energy intake doesn’t seem to represent the current balance of scientific evidence.
“We are concerned that the basis for the calculation of this 5% value is misrepresentative of the data and it is unclear how replacing energy from ‘free sugars’ with that from other carbohydrates would achieve the desired energy deficit. Sugar can be part of a healthy balanced diet.”
Gavin Partington of the British Soft Drinks Association was rather upset. “Today’s recommendations make little sense and will further confuse people,” he suggested. “It is baffling that soft drinks have been singled out and the industry’s work to reduce the nation’s sugar intake ignored.”
And not to be outdone, Ian Wright of the Food and Drink Federation, dismissively moaned: “Sensationalist commentaries on this everyday ingredient that are not based in science should now be relegated to the past.”