soft drink sugar

Public health officials have called on parents to completely remove sugary soft drinks from their children’s diets, as the government agreed to cut recommended sugar intakes in half to tackle the growing diabetes and obesity crisis.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition report on carbohydrates said consumption of free sugars (including added and naturally occurring sugars) should account for just 5% of daily energy intake, compared with the existing target of 10%.

SACN dropped a recommendation from the draft report that had said a 10% level would be an “acceptable upper limit”.

SACN’s report also called for a huge increase in the amount of fibre people eat, up from 24g/day to 30g/day for adults, which would mean consumers having to eat at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

SACN said while its seven-year study had found no link between the intake of added sugar in general and type 2 diabetes, there was a greater risk associated with sugar-sweetened beverages.

The report called on all age groups to “minimise” their consumption of such drinks, warning just one 350ml can of typical fizzy drinks would take up almost the entire daily recommended allowance for sugar (five to six teaspoons for women and seven to eight teaspoons for men).

After the SACN report came out, Public Health England urged parents to go further and ban sugary drinks for children completely. “Sugary drinks have no place in a child’s daily diet but account for almost a third of their daily sugar intake,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England. PHE’s call came despite furious denials from Tedstone last year after The Grocer reported she had said at a press conference there was “no reason at all” for buying fizzy drinks.

SACN’s report itself was also toughened up from its draft, which had said 10% of sugar intake was an “acceptable upper limit” for individuals, despite the recommended level of 5%.

“The evidence is stark - too much sugar is harmful to health and we all need to cut back,” said report author Professor Ian Macdonald.

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: “We are accepting the recommendations made in this expert report and the government will be using them to develop our forthcoming national strategy on childhood obesity.”