Aboriginal #Nutrition Health and #Sugar : @healthgovau Health Star Rating System review closes 17 August

 ” The Health Star Rating System has been marred by anomalies. Milo powder (44% sugar) increased its basic 1.5 Stars to 4.5 by assuming it will be added to skim milk. About one in every seven products bearing health stars goes against the Department of Health’s own recommendations.

Those of us working in public health question why obvious junk foods get any stars at all.”

See Sugar, sugar everywhere MJA insight article in full Part 3 below

  ” In 2012-13, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2 years and over consumed an average of 75 grams of free sugars per day (equivalent to 18 teaspoons of white sugar)1. Added sugars made up the majority of free sugar intakes with an average of 68 grams (or 16 teaspoons) consumed and an additional 7 grams of free sugars came from honey and fruit juice. “

ABS Report abs-indigenous-consumption-of-added-sugars 

See Part 1 below for Aboriginal sugar facts

The Health Star Rating (HSR) Advisory Committee (HSRAC), responsible for overseeing the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the HSR system is undertaking a five year review of the HSR system.

The five year review of the system is well underway, with a public submission process opening on 8 June 2017 on the Australian Department of Health’s online Consultation Hub.

Since the consultation period has been opened there has been strong interest in the system from stakeholders representing a diverse range of views.

To ensure that as much evidence as possible is captured, along with stakeholders’ views on the system, a further two week extension to the consultation period has been agreed and it will now close on 17 August 2017

See full survey details Part 2 Below

Part 1 Aboriginal sugar facts

ABS Report

abs-indigenous-consumption-of-added-sugars

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consume around 14 per cent of their total energy intake as free sugars, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that free sugars contribute less than 10 per cent of total energy intake.

Director of Health, Louise Gates, said the new ABS report showed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are consuming an average of 18 teaspoons (or 75 grams) of free sugars per day (almost two cans of soft drink), four teaspoons more than non-Indigenous people (14 teaspoons or 60 grams).

OTHER KEY FINDINGS

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people derived an average of 14% of their daily energy from free sugars, exceeding the WHO recommendation that children and adults should limit their intake of free sugars to less than 10% of dietary energy.
    • Free sugars made the greatest contribution to energy intakes among older children and young adults. For example, teenage boys aged 14-18 years derived 18 per cent of their dietary energy from free sugars as they consumed the equivalent of 25 teaspoons (106 grams) of free sugars per day. This amount is equivalent to more than two and a half cans of soft drink. Women aged 19-30 years consumed 21 teaspoons (87 grams) of free sugars, which contributed 17 per cent to their total energy intake.
    • The majority (87%) of free sugars were consumed from energy dense, nutrient-poor ‘discretionary’ foods and beverages. Two thirds (67%) of all free sugars consumed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people came from beverages, led by soft drinks, sports and energy drinks (28%), followed by fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (12%), cordials (9.5%), and sugars added to beverages such as tea and coffee (9.4%), alcoholic beverages (4.9%) and milk beverages (3.4%).
    • Intakes were higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in non-remote areas where the average consumption was 78 grams (18.5 teaspoons), around 3 teaspoons (12 grams) higher than people living in remote areas (65 grams or 15.5 teaspoons).
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumed 15 grams (almost 4 teaspoons) more free sugars on average than non-Indigenous people. Beverages were the most common source of free sugars for both populations, however Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people derived a higher proportion of free sugars from beverages than non-Indigenous people (67% compared with 51%).

Part 2 @healthgovau Health Star Rating System review closes 17 August

Introduction

The Health Star Rating (HSR) Advisory Committee (HSRAC), responsible for overseeing the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the HSR system, is undertaking a five year review of the HSR system. The HSR system is a front-of-pack labelling (FoPL) scheme intended to assist consumers in making healthier diet choices. The findings of the review will be provided to the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) in mid‑2019.

In parallel with this consultation on the HSR system five year review, the HSRAC is conducting a dedicated investigation of issues and concerns raised about the form of the food (‘as prepared’) rules in the Guide for Industry to the HSR Calculator. These enable additional nutrients to be taken into account when calculating star ratings based on foods prepared according to on-label directions. A specific consultation process seeking input into this investigation opened on 19 May 2017 and will close at 11.59 pm 30 June 2017. The form of the food (‘as prepared’) consultation can be viewed on the Australian Department of Health’s Consultation Hub.

The HSR system

The HSR system is a public health and consumer choice intervention designed to encourage people to make healthier dietary choices. The HSR system is a voluntary FoPL scheme that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It is not a system that defines what a ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ food is, but rather provides a quick, standardised way to compare similar packaged foods at retail level. The more stars, the healthier the choice. The HSR system is not a complete solution to assist consumers with choosing foods in line with dietary guidelines, but should be viewed as a way to assist consumers to make healthier packaged food choices.  Other sources of information, such as the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the New Zealand Eating and Activity Guidelines, also assist consumers in their overall food purchasing decisions.

The HSR system aims to:

1. Enable direct comparison between individual foods that, within the overall diet, may contribute to the risk factors of various diet related chronic diseases;

2. Be readily understandable and meaningful across socio-economic groups, culturally and linguistically diverse groups and low literacy/low numeracy groups; and

3. Increase awareness of foods that, within the overall diet, may contribute positively or negatively to the risk factors of diet related chronic diseases.

The HSR system consists of the graphics, including the words ‘Health Star Rating’, the rules identified in the HSR system Style Guide, the algorithm and methodology for calculating the HSR identified in the Guide for Industry to the HSR Calculator, and the education and marketing associated with the HSR implementation.

The HSR system is a joint Australian, state and territory and New Zealand government initiative developed in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups. The system is funded by the Australian government, the New Zealand government and all Australian jurisdictions during the initial five year implementation period.

From June 2014, food manufacturers started to apply HSRs to the front of food product packaging. Further information on the HSR system is available on the HSR website. The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) website also provides information on the HSR system in New Zealand.

Purpose and scope of the review
The five year review of the HSR system will consider if, and how well, the objectives of the HSR system have been met, and identify options for improvements to and ongoing implementation of the system (Terms of reference for the five year review).

With a focus on processed packaged foods, the objective of the HSR system is:

To provide convenient, relevant and readily understood nutrition information and /or guidance on food packs to assist consumers to make informed food purchases and healthier eating choices.

The HSRAC has agreed that the areas of communication, system enhancements, and monitoring and governance will be considered when identifying whether the objectives of the HSR system have been achieved.

Although HSRAC will need to be a part of the review process, a degree of independence is required and independent management and oversight of the review is an important factor to ensure credible and unbiased reporting. An independent consultant will be engaged to undertake the review. Specific detail about the scope of the review will be outlined in the statement of requirement for the independent consultant. A timeline for the five year review of the HSR system has been drafted and will be updated throughout the review.

Next steps in the review process

As part of the five year review, HSRAC is seeking evidence based submissions on the consultation questions provided in this discussion paper.

This consultation is open to the public, state and territory governments, relevant government agencies, industry and public health and consumer groups.

Making a submission

The HSRAC is seeking submissions on the merits of the HSR system, particularly in response to the consultation questions below. The aim of the questions is to assist respondents in providing relevant commentary. However, submissions are not limited to answering the questions provided.  Please provide evidence or examples to support comments. Some areas of this review are technical in nature therefore comments on technical issues should be based on scientific evidence and/or supported by research where appropriate. Where possible, please provide citations to published studies or other sources.

While the HSRAC will consider all submissions and proposals put forward, those that are not well supported by evidence are unlikely to be addressed as part of the five year review.

Enquiries specifically relating to this submission process can be made via email to: frontofpack@health.gov.au. Please DO NOT provide submissions by email.

After the consultation period closes the HSRAC will consider the submissions received and will prepare a summary table of the issues raised which will be published on the HSR website. All information within the summary table will be de-identifiable and will not contain any confidential material.

HSRAC will treat information of a confidential nature as such. Please ensure that material supplied in confidence is clearly marked ‘IN CONFIDENCE’ and is provided in a separate attachment to non-confidential material. Information provided in the submissions will only be used for the purpose of the five year review of the HSR system and will not be used for any other purpose without explicit permission.

Please see the Terms of Use and Privacy pages at the bottom of this page for further information on maintaining the security of your data.

For further information about the HSR system, including its resources and governance structure, please refer to the Australian HSR website and the New Zealand MPI website.

Part 3 Sugar Sugar MJA Insights

Originally published Here

IT’S hard to escape sugar, not only in what we eat and drink, but also in the daily news and views that seep into so many corners of our lives.

There’s nothing new about concern over sugar. I can trace my own fights with the sugar industry back to the 1960s, and since their inception in 1981, the Australian Dietary Guidelines have advised limiting sugary foods and drinks. The current emphasis in many articles in newspapers, magazines, popular books and online blogs, however, go further and recommend eliminating every grain of the stuff from the daily diet.

Taking an academic approach to the topic, the George Institute for Global Health has published data based on the analysis of 34 135 packaged foods currently listed in their Australian FoodSwitch database. They found added sugar in 87% of discretionary food products (known as junk foods in common parlance) and also in 52% of packaged foods that can be described as basic or core foods.

The George Institute’s analysis is particularly pertinent to the Department of Health’s Health Star Rating System, and found that some of the anomalies in the scheme could be eliminated by penalising foods for their content of added sugars rather than using total sugars in the product, as is currently the case.

The definition of “added sugars” used in Australia also needs attention, a topic that has been stressed in the World Health Organization’s guidelines. I will return to this later.

In Australia, the nutrition information panel on the label of packaged foods must include the total sugars present. This includes sugars that have been added (known as extrinsic sugars) as well as any sugars present naturally in ingredients such as milk, fruit or vegetables (intrinsic sugars).

There is no medical evidence to suggest that intrinsic sugars are a problem – at least not if they occur in “intact” ingredients. If you consume fruit, for example, the natural dietary fibre and the bulk of the fruit will limit the amount of the fruit’s intrinsic sugars you consume. However, if the sugar is extracted from the structure of the fruit, it becomes easy to consume much larger quantities. Few people could munch their way through five apples, but if you extract their juice, the drink would let you take in all the sugar and kilojoules of five apples in less than a minute.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines do not include advice to restrict fruit itself because there is high level evidence of its health value. The guidelines do, however, recommend that dried fruit and fruit juice be restricted – the equivalent of four dried apricot halves or 125 mL juice consumed only occasionally.

Contrary to the belief of some bloggers, Australia’s dietary guidelines have never suggested replacing fat with sugar. That was a tactic of some food companies who marketed many “low” or “reduced” fat foods where the fat was replaced with sugars or some kind of refined starch.

The wording of Australia’s guideline on sugar has changed. The initial advice to “avoid too much sugar” led to the sugar industry’s multimillion dollar campaign “Sugar, a natural part of life”. This included distributing “educational” material to the general public, politicians, doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other health professionals discussing the importance of a “balanced diet”.

In spite of fierce lobbying by the sugar industry, the next revision of the guidelines retained a sugar guideline, although it was watered down to “eat only moderate amounts of sugars”. Some school canteen operators reported that they had been confronted by sweet-talking sellers of junk foods omitting the word “only” from this guideline.

The evidence for sugar’s adverse effects on dental health have long been known, but the evidence against sugar and its potential role in obesity and, consequently, in type 2 diabetes and other health problems has grown stronger. The most recent revision of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Dietary Guidelines, therefore, emphasises the need to “limit” added sugars and lists the foods that need particular attention.

Sugary drinks have been specifically targeted because the evidence against them is strong and extends beyond epidemiological studies. Double-blind trials now clearly link sugary drinks with weight gain, the only exceptions being a few trials funded by the food industry.

Added sugar is not the only topic for public health concern, and hence the government’s Health Star Rating System was set up to introduce a simple front-of-pack labelling scheme to assist Australians reduce their intake of saturated fat, salt and sugars from packaged foods.

A specially commissioned independent report (Evaluation of scientific evidence relating to Front of Pack Labelling by Dr Jimmy Chun Yu Louie and Professor Linda Tapsell of the School of Health Sciences, University of Wollongong) found that added sugars were the real problem, but the food industry argued that the scheme should include total sugars because this was already a mandatory inclusion on food labels and routine chemical analysis couldn’t determine the source of sugars.

This was a strange argument since food manufacturers know exactly how much sugar they add to any product, just as they know how many “offset” points the Health Star Rating System allows for the inclusion of fruit, vegetable, nuts or legumes. The content of these ingredients is only disclosed on the food label if used in the product’s name.

The Health Star Rating System has been marred by anomalies. Milo powder (44% sugar) increased its basic 1.5 Stars to 4.5 by assuming it will be added to skim milk. About one in every seven products bearing health stars goes against the Department of Health’s own recommendations.

Those of us working in public health question why obvious junk foods get any stars at all.

How can caramel topping or various types of confectionery, such as strawberry flavoured liquorice, each get 2.5 stars? Why do some chocolates sport 3.5 stars, while worthy products such as Greek yoghurt without any added sugars get 1.5 and a breakfast cereal with 27% sugar gets four stars?

The fact that over a third of Australian’s energy intake comes from discretionary products (40% for children) is the elephant in the room for excess weight. We need to reduce consumption of these products and allotting them health stars is not helping.

It’s clearly time to follow our dietary guidelines and limit both discretionary products and added sugar. Of the nutrients used in the current algorithm for health stars, the George Institute’s analysis shows that counting added rather than total sugars has the greatest individual capacity to discriminate between core and discretionary foods.

However, in moving to mandate added sugars on food labels and using added sugars in health stars, it’s vital to define these sugars. The World Health Organization has done so: “Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates”.

Regular sugar in Australia could be described as cane juice concentrate. It has no nutrients other than its carbohydrate. Fruit juice concentrates are also just sugars with no nutrients other than carbohydrates. At present the Health Star Rating System allows products using apple or pear juice concentrate to be counted as “fruit” and used to offset the total sugars. This is nonsense, and gives rise to confectionery, toppings and some breakfast cereals scoring stars they do not deserve.

Other ways to boost health stars also need attention. Food technologists boast they can manipulate foods to gain extra stars (Health Star Rating Stakeholders workshop, Sydney, 4 August 2016). For example, adding wheat, milk, soy or other protein powder, concentrated fruit purees or a laboratory-based source of fibre such as inulin will all give extra “offset” points to reduce adverse points from saturated fat, sugar or salt. Indeed, some food technologists have even suggested they could revert to using the especially nasty trans (but technically unsaturated) fatty acid from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to replace naturally occurring saturated fat.

My alternative is to go for fresh foods and minimise packaged foods. If the stars look too good to be true, check the ingredient list. But remember that Choice found sugar may go by more than 40 different names. Buyer beware!

Image

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Sugar TV Doco: APY community and the Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation.

Sugar

Amata was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

The thing that I say in community meetings all the time is that, the reason we’re doing this is so that the young children now do not end up going down the same track of diabetes, kidney failure, dialysis machines and early death, which is the track that many, many people out here are on now,”

Mai Wiru, meaning good health, and managed by long-time community consultant John Tregenza.

Watch The Sugar Trip on Australian Story  Monday 5 September  at 8:00pm on ABC TV.

View HERE

In the language of the Pitjantjatjara people of Central Australia, there is an expression — “Ngapartji Ngapartji”.

It means: “What are you going to give back in return for this favour?”

Melbourne filmmaker Damon Gameau was introduced to the concept a couple of years ago while making his now acclaimed documentary That Sugar Film, which raised awareness of the hazards of any diet containing too much sugar.

He wanted to include a segment about an innovative health program initiated by Indigenous communities in the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands, where stores were stocking healthy foods and nutritionists were advising customers on the best food choices.

It was called Mai Wiru, meaning good health, and managed by long-time community consultant John Tregenza.

“He said he was making a film. I was fairly wary,” Mr Tregenza told Australian Story.

“I undertook to help Damon on the basis of Ngapartji Ngapartji … that if the film was a success he would set up a foundation to assist the people to understand the sugar message.”

At the time, the Mai Wiru project was starting to hit trouble. Government funding had been withdrawn and, while the stores were commercially viable, the community could no longer afford key elements of Mai Wiru, such as employing nutritionists.

Fast-forward 18 months and Gameau’s film had become a box office juggernaut — one of the highest-grossing Australian documentaries of all time.

True to his word, Gameau set about helping Mr Tregenza revitalise the health project.

He created the Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation and recently returned to the APY Lands with two nutritionists and an action plan, all paid for by funds generated by the new foundation.

Where it all began — meeting David Gulpilil

Gameau’s connection with Indigenous communities began nearly 15 years ago when he appeared in Rolf de Heer’s landmark film The Tracker, starring David Gulpilil.

Meeting Gulpilil was a life-changing experience according to Gameau.

“To go and spend time with him and live with his family and live off the land and hunt; I was only 23, it blew my mind. I felt the magic of that,” he said.

“But there was an element when I’d seen how much Coke people were consuming and that kind of really shocked me.”

Back then Gameau himself was no role model when it came to diet and health. He regularly ate junk food, smoked a packet of cigarettes a day and partied hard.

But in 2008, while working on the film Balibo in Timor-Leste, he met his future wife Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, who was a healthy eater.

“I knew as soon as I met her, I’m going to have to change some things in my life,” he told Australian Story.

“She’s the one, but I’ve got some work to do.”

He adopted a new diet, cutting out all processed foods and sugar. Within weeks he felt and looked healthier.

Turning his hand to directing, he won Tropfest in 2011 with an animated short film Animal Beatbox.

It gave him the impetus to look for a bigger directing project.

Sugar at that time was literally becoming “flavour of the month” in the media, so with his recent experience of improved health he embarked on an experiment using himself as a lab-rat and filmed what would become That Sugar Film.

Over 60 days, Gameau consumed 40 teaspoons of sugar a day — all hidden in processed, so-called healthy foods.

“By the end I’d developed pre-type two diabetes, I had heart disease, I had 11 centimetres of visceral fat. But the big one was, the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was almost in a full-blown state,” he said.

Although Gameau had proved that a high sugar diet was dangerous, he wanted to examine the reverse effect in his documentary — showing a community that had removed sugar from their diet.

That was when he discovered the APY Lands’ Mai Wiru project, and visited the small town of Amata some 100 kilometres from Uluru.

Amata was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

The community elders stepped in with Mai Wiru to address the problem.

Mai Wiru had prospered commercially but, by the time Gameau arrived, the government funding cuts meant the community could no longer afford a nutritionist.

High consumption of sugar was again taking its toll and the health focus of the project was waning.

Soon after That Sugar Film was released in March last year, Gameau successfully applied for it to be accepted into a new philanthropic funding initiative, Good Pitch, which had been adopted in Australia from the UK and US.

“It’s the first time it happened in Australia,” Gameau told Australian Story.

“They put you in a room with a lot of philanthropists, and people contribute to what is called an outreach campaign that really backed what we were doing.”

This support, including a financial start-up contribution of about $90,000 from philanthropists, and a percentage of the profits from his documentary, enabled Gameau to honour his promise to Mr Tregenza and the APY community by establishing the Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation.

 

     

       

Thumbs up for nutrition

Mr Tregenza chose the tiny town of Pipalyatjara for a pilot program.

Gameau and two nutritionists recently travelled to Pipalyatjara to work with the community in developing an education program on diet and sugar.

Pipalyatjara Store

A screening of That Sugar Film at the local women’s centre set the scene.

This was followed by in-store demonstrations on how to read food labels to detect “hidden” sugar, and by the installation of “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” signs on shelving to denote good and bad food options.

Cooking sessions using only healthy foods that could be sourced from the Mai Wiru store were also held for anybody who wanted to attend.

The meals were consumed with gusto.

“The thing that I say in community meetings all the time is that, the reason we’re doing this is so that the young children now do not end up going down the same track of diabetes, kidney failure, dialysis machines and early death, which is the track that many, many people out here are on now,” Mr Tregenza said.

With encouraging signs from the first stage of the pilot program, Mr Tregenza is now looking five to 10 years ahead.

Gameau and his team plan to return to Pipalyatjara before the end of the year to set up a healthy eating cafe — building infrastructure and assisting locally trained chefs to cook daily for the community.

Ngapartji Ngapartji. The favour is being repaid.

Watch The Sugar Trip on Australian Story tonight at 8:00pm on ABC TV.

NACCHO Aboriginal #healthElection16 Check : How much sugar is it OK to eat ?

Sugar

“Consuming too much energy – whether from fat or carbohydrates, including sugar – will make you gain weight. If left unchecked, this excess weight increases your risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

In recognition of this, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends adults and children limit their intake of “free sugars” to less than 10% of their total energy intake. Below 5% is even better and carries additional health benefits.”

Originally published in the Conversation

So how can you cut down on your added sugars?

First, eat fewer foods with free sugars. Reduce your intake of sweets such as chocolate and lollies, cakes, biscuits, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters and sports drinks.

Second, make some swaps. Swap your cereal for a lower-sugar variety and limit the amount of sugar you add. Drink plain tap water and swap brands for sugar-free or those with lower added sugar. Swap fruit juices for whole fruits, which also give you fibre and other health-promoting nutrients.

Finally, read the labels on packaged food and drink. If the product has more than 15g of sugar per 100g, check to see if sugar is one of the main ingredients. If it is, use the nutrient information panel to compare and choose products containing less sugar.

Full Article here

Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose) and disaccharides (sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer. It also refers to sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Free sugars are different from sugars found in whole fresh fruits and vegetables. There is no scientific evidence that consuming these sugars leads to health problems. So the guidelines don’t apply to fresh fruit and vegetables.

If you’re an average-sized adult eating and drinking enough to maintain a healthy body weight (roughly 8,700 kilojoules per day), 10% of your total energy intake from free sugar roughly translates to no more than 54 grams, or around 12 teaspoons, per day.

But more than half of Australians (52%) usually exceed the WHO recommendations.

Most sugar we eat (around 75%) comes from processed and pre-packaged foods and drinks. The rest we add to tea, coffee and cereal, and other foods we cook.

Sugary drinks account for the largest proportion of Australians’ free sugar intake. A single can or 600ml bottle of soft drink can easily exceed the WHO recommendation, providing around 40-70g sugar. One teaspoon equates to 4.5g white sugar, so soft drinks range from 8.5 to 15.5 teaspoons.

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More insidious sources of sugar are drinks marketed as “healthier” options, such as iced teas, coconut water, juices and smoothies. Some medium-sized smoothies have up to 14 teaspoons of sugar (63.5g) in a 475ml drink.

Flavoured milks are also high in free sugars (11 teaspoons in a 500ml carton) but can be a good source of calcium.

Other foods high in sugar are breakfast cereals. While some sugar is derived from dried fruit, many popular granola mixes add various forms of sugar. Sugar content for one cup of cereal ranges from 12.5g for creamy honey quick oats to 20.5g for granola. A cup of some types of cereal can contain 30% to 50% of your daily free sugar allowance.

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A surprise for many is the added sugars in savoury foods including sauces and condiments. Tomato and barbecue sauce, salad dressing and sweet’n’sour stirfry sauces contain one to two teaspoons of sugar in each tablespoon (20ml).

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Popular “health foods” and sugar-free recipes can be particularly misleading as they can contain as much sugar as their sweet alternatives. Usually this is referring to “sucrose-free” (what we know as white sugar) and doesn’t exclude the use of other sugar derivatives such as rice malt syrup, agave or maple syrup, typical of popular sugar-free recipes. These are still forms of sugar and contribute to energy intake and unhealthy weight gain when consumed in excess.

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We know treats such as chocolate, pastries and ice-cream do contain sugar, but just how much might surprise you. A chocolate-coated icecream will contribute five teaspoons of sugar, or almost half the daily limit.

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Sugar added to foods and drink can have different names depending on where it comes from. When reading labels, alternative names for sugar include:

  • sucrose
  • glucose
  • corn syrup
  • maltose
  • dextrose
  • raw sugar
  • cane sugar
  • malt extract
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • molasses.

The main ingredient is sugar if any of these are listed as the first three ingredients.

Note that products with “no added sugar” nutrition claims may still contain high levels of natural sugars, also considered as free sugars. A good example of this is fruit juice: the sugar content of 200ml of sweetened orange juice (21g) is 7g higher than unsweetened juice (14g).

So how can you cut down on your added sugars?

First, eat fewer foods with free sugars. Reduce your intake of sweets such as chocolate and lollies, cakes, biscuits, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters and sports drinks.

Second, make some swaps. Swap your cereal for a lower-sugar variety and limit the amount of sugar you add. Drink plain tap water and swap brands for sugar-free or those with lower added sugar. Swap fruit juices for whole fruits, which also give you fibre and other health-promoting nutrients.

Finally, read the labels on packaged food and drink. If the product has more than 15g of sugar per 100g, check to see if sugar is one of the main ingredients. If it is, use the nutrient information panel to compare and choose products containing less sugar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : New ABS data reveals how much sugar we really consume

Sugar

WHEN it comes to sugar consumption, it appears that Australians are simply not getting the message.

New data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows we are consuming more added sugars in our diets than ever before, but the problem is worse in teenagers.

Download the report ABS Sugar Consumption April 2016

See previous NACCHO Sugar posts

NACCHO Aboriginal health news alert :War on sugar: Food industry likened to big tobacco in debate

CHECK OUT The Challenge

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities rethink sugary drinks.

We now have specific dietary data available that pinpoints exactly where these sugars in our diet are coming from, and the news is not good for soft drink and fruit juice manufacturers.

From NEWS Health

The World Health Organisation recommends our sugar consumption should only make up five per cent of our total daily calorie intake, which equates to about 25g or six teaspoons per day.

The Australian Health Survey found that in 2011-2012, Australians were consuming an average of 60g of sugars each day, or the equivalent of 14 teaspoons of white sugar.

Not surprisingly, the majority of these sugars were coming from “extra” foods and drinks.

Soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, as well as fruit and vegetable juices make up 32 per cent of the added sugars in our diets. Almost nine per cent of the added sugars we consume are in confectionery, cakes and muffins.

Sugar intake was highest among teenage males, who consumed an average 92g or 18 teaspoons per day. That figure is particularly alarming, because as teenagers we develop food habits we’re likely to maintain throughout our adult lives.

Facts

Did you know?

  • Sugary drinks, or sugar sweetened beverages, include all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar such as non-diet soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks and cordial.
  • Sugar sweetened beverages are high in kilojoules, leading to weight gain and obesity.
  • Obesity is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers (including endometrial, oesophageal, renal, gallbladder, bowel and postmenopausal breast cancers).
  • Research has shown that consuming 340ml of sugary drink a day (which equates to less than one can) increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 22% when compared to drinking one can a month or less.1
  • American estimates show that consuming one can of soft drink per day could lead to a 6.75kg weight gain in one year (if these calories are added to a typical US diet and not offset by reduction in other energy sources)*.2
  • Young Australians are very high consumers of sugar sweetened beverages, and sugar sweetened soft drinks in particular. The 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that 47% of children (2 to 16 years of age) consumed sugar sweetened beverages (including energy drinks) every day.3,4
  • In the 12 months to October 2012, Australians bought 1.28 billion litres of carbonated/still drinks with sugar, with regular cola drinks being the most popular (447 million litres).5
  • Many drinks contain acid that harms your teeth, including regular and diet soft drinks, sports/energy drinks and fruit juices. Acid weakens tooth enamel which can lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease in Australia.6
  • Sugar sweetened beverages produce more acid when the sugar combines with bacteria in the mouth. Try drinking water instead – it has no acid, no sugar, no kiljoules and if you get it from the tap it’s free.sugary-drink-infographic

What does 60g of sugar actually look like?

Sugars are found naturally in many foods including fruits, vegetables and dairy food. Glucose, the building block of all sugars, fuels the muscles and the brain. Natural sugars consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet are fine. The major issue in our diets are the extra sugars we get through processed foods and sugary drinks.

While 60g of sugar or 14 teaspoons may sound like an obscene amount of the white stuff, it really is not that difficult to consume this much added sugar on a regular basis.

For example, a smoothie contains 30g of sugar, a large fruit juice can contain up to 60g per 500mL and a fruit yoghurt has around 30g.

Now, if you consume soft drinks, processed cakes, muffins and confectionery, your sugar intake could be as high as 190g, or almost 20 teaspoons of added sugars every day.

So, what can I eat and still come in at the recommended 25g of sugar per day?

While your fruit and vegetable intake do not need to be included in this amount, once you include a little sugar from a breakfast cereal, fruit yoghurt and some dark chocolate you will have easily reached 25g.

That’s not taking into account any liquid sugars, sauces or foods eaten away from the home.

So how do I cut down on my sugar consumption?

If you are serious about cutting down on sugar, the first place to start is with your drinks.

Avoid fruit-based drinks and soft drinks altogether, and choose vegetable-based juices.

Don’t add sugar or honey to your tea and coffee. Only eat sweet treats a couple of times a week, and keep the portions small.

The most important thing is to check your food labels.

If sugar is listed as an ingredient, particularly on foods targeting children, avoid them altogether. You will be surprised how many snacks, yoghurts, sauces and pre-made foods contain added sugars, which are often listed as glucose, honey or rice malt syrup.

Parents of teenagers should keep an eye on their consumption of iced tea, soft drink and energy drinks. Once they get a taste for the white stuff, it is a tough habit to break.

Here are some healthy food swap suggestions:

  1. Fruit muesli – plain oats
  2. Fruit yoghurt – natural yoghurt
  3. Sugar – cinnamon, or vanilla
  4. Milk chocolate – 70 per cent cocoa dark chocolate
  5. Dried fruit – fresh fruit
  6. Muesli bars – nut-based snack bars
  7. Rice crackers – roasted chickpeas
  8. Wraps – rye crackers
  9. Mayonnaise – avocado
  10. Sweet chilli sauce – chilli sauceCrap

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