The lowdown on sugar
What is sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate. It’s found naturally in food such as fruit and milk and is also added to many foods. Eating too much can lead to issues such as obesity and tooth decay. A US study also found a diet high in sugar may raise your risk of dying from heart disease even if you aren’t overweight.
The fructose myth
Fructose has had some bad press, with claims it’s responsible for obesity and type 2 diabetes. But Nutrition Australia and National Health and Medical Research guidelines say while you should limit all sugar, there’s no need to cut out fructose; small quantities in a balanced diet are fine. There is only a small amount in fresh fruit, so don’t stop eating it!
How much do we eat?
Australians are consuming, on average 14 teaspoons of sugar, each day, according to the Australian Health Survey (2011-12). This is the equivalent of 60g of sugar every day.
Of the sugars we eat, 80 per cent are from processed foods. Soft drinks, juices, cakes, confectionary and sports drinks are the main culprits.
World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines say no more the 10% of your total daily kilojoule intake should be made up of free sugars. For an adult Australian consuming 8700kJ a day, this means no more than 55g or 13 teaspoons of sugar a day. WHO says a reduction to below five per cent a day would provide additional health benefits.
What are the types of sugars?
There are many different kinds of sugar. Simple sugars, or monosaccharides, include glucose, fructose and galactose. Disaccharides, or double sugars, include sucrose, or table sugar, maltose and lactose, the sugar in milk. Disaccharides are broken down in the body into simple sugars such as glucose and fructose.