In 2012, the United Nations World Health Assembly advocated a significant new health goal: to reduce avoidable deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory disease kill 35 million per year. The UN has identified tobacco, alcohol and poor diet as central risk factors. The first two have been regulated by governments in order to protect public health, but poor diet is actually responsible for more disease than smoking, alcohol and physical inactivity combined.
But what component of the western diet should be targeted? The evidence suggesting that added sugar should be the target is now overwhelming. Unlike fat and protein, refined sugars offer no nutritional value and, contrary to what the food industry want you to believe, the body does not require any carbohydrate from added sugar for energy. Thus it is a source of completely unnecessary calories.
Sugars are added to the majority of processed foods in the UK. Yet disturbingly, many consumers are unaware of its presence in such large quantities. In the UK and Europe guideline daily amounts for sugar have not been updated since 2003. These obsolete guidelines still suggest one can consume a staggering 22 teaspoons of sugar daily.