Sugar cut would hit average Kiwi

Last updated 19:44 06/03/2014

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The average New Zealander would need to cut their daily sugar intake to a sixth of what it is now to meet new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

WHO today announced its draft to cut the daily recommended amount of sugar from 10 per cent of calorie intake to 5 per cent.

The guidelines are open to public comment until March 31.

For the average adult, this equals about six teaspoons – or 25 grams – of sugar per day.

New Zealanders, on average, consume about 54 kilograms of sugar per year. That is equivalent to 37 teaspoons of sugar per person per day.

Many people did not realise how much sugar was "hidden" in processed foods, WHO said in a statement.

A can of fizzy drink (355 millilitres) could contain up to 10 teaspoons, or 40 grams, of sugar. A tablespoon of tomato sauce could contain one teaspoon of sugar.

The new recommendation applies to sugars that are found naturally in fruits, honey and syrups, as well as sucrose (table sugar).

The United Nations health agency said the recommendations were based on the totality of evidence regarding the relationship between free sugars intake and body weight and dental caries.

Rob Beaglehole, principal dental officer for Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, said the cutback would be a struggle for most Kiwis, but a vital one to stem the tide of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in February promoted a tax on sugary drinks as a way of curbing intake in New Zealand.

The paper's author, Professor Tony Blakely, of the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, said the tax would be a simple and smart move to fight obesity and related illnesses

A 20 per cent tax on sugary soft drinks could prevent 67 deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and diet-related cancers per year, the study said.

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