Sugar comes in many forms and is added to many common packaged foods consumed in Australia. Sugar is used to enhance the taste and flavour of foods but what is most frightening is that many of these food products are foods designed for young children.
Sugar can be defined as added or naturally occurring. Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in a range of foods such as fruit and milk. Added sugars – such as white sugar – are added in the manufacturing of many foods including discretionary foods such as confectionary. Below is a list of commonly added sugars that can be found in our packaged food products:
Firstly, added sugars are commonly referred to as empty calories. Whilst they provide the body with immediate energy, they don’t provide any beneficial nutrients, particularly if found in foods such as confectionary.
One of the factors that may influence overweight and obesity includes early adopted eating behaviours and poor food choices which include the introduction of added sugar at a young age.1 Whilst we are all born with some preference to the sweet taste, evidence suggests that minimising the intake of added sugars may help to reduce the burden of overweight and obesity in children.1-2
The rate of childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions where 1 in 4 Australian children between the ages of 2-17 were recorded as being overweight or obese.3 This can be associated with the early development of diabetes, cancer and heart disease, which can impact on life expectancy.2-3 In addition, children may be affected by the stigma associated with being overweight, which can impact significantly on self-esteem and mood.4
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it suggests that no more than 5-10 teaspoons of added sugars should be consumed per day for adults and children respectively.5 However, it is estimated that Australians can consume an average of 25 teaspoons of sugar per day!3 So which foods may contain added sugars?
The table below highlights the equivalent teaspoons of sugar found in commonly eaten foods. Sweetened beverages have more added sugars than other foods such as cereal and some yoghurts.5
|Food with added sugar||Teaspoons of sugar|
|1 chocolate bar (50g)||7|
|300mls Flavoured chocolate milk||7|
|250mls Orange Juice||6|
|1 tub regular yoghurt (175g)||5|
|2/3 cup Coco pops cereal||3|
|1 Muesli bar||2|
|1 tbsp tomato ketchup||1|
There are now over 30 countries that have adopted a sugar tax on sweetened beverages to reduce the added sugar intake overall, but particularly amongst children, with Australia soon to adopt the same tax and this is also because discretionary foods also know as junk food, is still consumed frequently across all age groups.6
Naturally occurring sugars can be consumed for all children through consumption of milk and fruit and shouldn’t be confused with added sugars.
There are three things you can look at on packaged food products to determine if there are added sugars.
Source: Kellogg’s Coco Pops
Source: Carmen’s Muesli Bars
Easy tips for reducing the intake of added sugars in children’s meal times include:
Below is an example meal plan that can be adapted for adults and children:
Bellamy’s Organic are the only certified organic brand, made in Australia, that offers a babies’ and children’s range from birth. There are a number of products across the range that are made using the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables such as apple, berries and pumpkin. All products across the range are certified organic by NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture in Australia) and ACO (Australian Certified Organic), which are Australia’s principal and trusted certifying bodies for organic produce providing assurance that our products are free from any synthetic and potentially toxic chemicals.