The release yesterday of the World Health Organization's guidelines around sugar has prompted a coalition of leading health organisations to call for a national strategy around obesity that includes policies to directly impact the amount of added sugars in Australians' diets.
Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, Jane Martin said diet-related illness was now the number one burden of disease in Australia, followed by overweight and obesity.
"The WHO recommends that added sugars make up a maximum of 10% of people's daily energy, and ideally no more than 5% (or 6 teaspoons per day) for the biggest health benefit. At present, we consume far more than this.
Most of the added sugar comes from the sugary drinks and highly processed ‘extra' foods that make up more than a third of our diet.
"While sugary drinks have to be the number one target to reduce our sugar intake, we also need to pay attention to the highly processed foods, like breakfast cereals and yoghurts which people often don't realise are high in sugar.
"It is astounding that we do not have a national strategy to deal with the burgeoning obesity problem. There are a lot of inexpensive and effective policies that the government could implement to reduce the sugar-coated environment in which we live – many countries are moving in this direction. They include restricting the sale of sugary drinks in schools and healthcare settings, ensuring that the star front of pack labels are implemented widely for all packaged foods, restricting marketing of foods high in sugar to children, reformulating foods and taxing high sugar drinks," said Ms Martin.
The World Health Organization definition of free sugars are all monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) that are added to food by the manufacturer, the cook or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.