Bad news for your sweet tooth: People's average consumption of sugar should be cut in half, a British government advisory group has recommended.
A draft report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition said that in order to curb obesity, people should reduce their sugar intake so that it only accounts for five percent of their daily energy intake, down from the current recommended level of 10 percent. The group also said people should minimize consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages because of their association with type 2 diabetes, as well as increase their fiber intake.
“There is strong evidence in the report to show that if people were to have less free sugars and more fiber in their diet they would lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer," said Committee chair Dr. Ann Prentice.
England, like the United States, is facing a severe weight problem. One third of the country's 10 and 11-year-olds are overweight or obese, with the majority of those children living in the most deprived communities, according to Alison Tedstone, the chief nutritionist at the government agency Public Health England.
Public Health England issued a report detailing how it would respond to the new recommendations. Initiatives mentioned in the report included local public health funding and working with businesses to reduce calories in food and drink products.
The five percent target energy intake from free sugars amounts to five to six teaspoons for women and seven to eight teaspoons for men, based on the average diet. One can of soda would account for the recommended five percent daily limit in adults, according to the BBC.
But health officials say these recommendations do not have to inconvenience consumers.
"It doesn't mean having a completely different diet from today, it's thinking about swapping high sugar foods for a lower-sugar alternative," Tedstone told the BBC. "Instead of fizzy drink, have water or low-fat milk, instead of a chocolate bar, have a piece of fruit."
The Committee's recommendations follow similar guidelines issued by the World Health Organization in March. Health officials are still trying to determine how to realistically get people down to five percent when many are still currently eating far more sugar on a regular basis. Some countries, such as Mexico, have tried implementing a sugar tax, but England has yet to do so.