What the 30-year-old did not know was that her daily diet starting from her breakfast cereal to the cookies she munched in the evenings included ‘hidden’ sugar. Medical experts say several people are unaware of the amount of such free sugars they consume everyday . Keeping this in mind, WHO has recommended that adults and children reduce their daily sugar intake to less than 10% of their energy intake.
And doctors are pushing for public health interventions such as mandatory nutrition labelling of food products, restricting marketing to children of food and non-alcoholic drinks high in free sugars and dialogue with food manufacturers to reduce free sugars in processed foods.
“Much of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets.For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 g (around 1 tea spoon) of free sugar. Excess consumption of these empty calories increases insulin levels, messes with your metabolism, turns into belly fat and boosts odds of tooth decay and heart disease,” said Dr Viswanathan. So a further reduction to below 5% or roughly 6 teaspoons a day would provide additional health benefits.
Consultant nutritionist Dr Deepa Agarwal said added sugars contain a bunch of calories with no essential nutrients.
“There are no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar.When people eat up to 10-20% of calories as sugar, this can become a major problem and contribute to nutrient deficiencies,” she warned.
Eating healthy means choosing different types of food throughout the day to get the nutrients you need, such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fibre, said Dr Agarwal.
“It is essential to read food labels before buying a product. It can help you decide what to choose as part of a healthy eating plan,” she said.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India recommend that all food labels show the nutrition and health information to allow consumers to compare different foods and make the right choice.