When was the last time you ate muscovado, panela, rapadura or turbinado? These are some of the more exotic names consumers will see on labels for a basic pantry staple: sugar. In Australia, many people are over-consuming added sugar and may not even realise it. Government intervention is necessary to give Australians tools to make better choices about their food. Fruit, vegetables and dairy products contain intrinsic sugars and have the added benefits of vitamins, other nutrients and dietary fibre. However, sugars added to foods and drinks are devoid of these nutritional benefits and add unnecessary kilojoules to a diet. An estimated 74% of packaged foods in the United States contain added sugars and the situation in Australia is likely similar.1 International health bodies and experts recommend limiting consumption, but in Australia over half the population is exceeding the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation to limit added sugar consumption to no more than 10% of daily energy intake.2 Added sugars provide empty kilojoules, or kilojoules with little or no associated nutrients.3 Excess intake of added sugar is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, dental caries and cardiovascular disease.4 Consumers in Australia have no clear way of knowing how much sugar has been added to a food. The Nutritional Information Panel (NIP) displays total sugars and, while the types of sugars are included in the ingredients list, there are over 43 different names for sugars making identifying added sugar a time-consuming and difficult process. Right now, consumers are struggling to identify if a product has added sugar, let alone how much added sugar is included. The results from this report show that by requiring labels to list added sugar, Australians would have the tools they need to improve their diet. This report looks at six simple food swaps an individual could make throughout the day. These swaps show that an individual could remove 26 teaspoons of unnecessary sugar from their diet in a day and up to 38.3 kilograms of unnecessary sugar over the course of a year.5 The solution is simple. Label added sugars clearly, following the precedent set by the US and Canada. This is a necessary step to allow Australians to take their health in their own hands and make informed choices.
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