New report on the problem of sugar

Highlights sugar's contribution to inexpensive everyday foods and consumer assumptions about healthy foods versus treats

The big bad bear: Sugar has long been the subject of scrutiny in all foods from treats to ‘healthy’ foods

Euromonitor has released a new report: “Sugar: The Fool Proof Target for Obesity or a Can of Worms?”

The new report shows that, while a lot of the anti-sugar movement in the mainstream press has focused on the large amount of sugar in products, the cost of food has largely been left out.

Part of the problem is that processed foods high in sugar are cheap. This and their consumer convenience means that such products have become an integral part of people’s everyday diets.

Sara Petersson, nutrition analyst at Euromonitor International comments:

“Sugar is a relatively cheap commodity and ingredient, which has in part ensured that high-sugar products remain low in cost.”

“If the average global consumer spent one US dollar on sugar, they could buy 30g of it in flavoured yoghurts; 58g in sweet biscuits; 72g in juice; 114g in juice drinks; and 132g on carbonates.”

“With so much sugar bought so easily with so little money, one could argue it is far too easy to exceed the recommended added sugar consumption.”

One could argue it is far too easy to exceed the recommended added sugar consumption.

According to Euromonitor International, countries with a higher prevalence of obesity have a relatively high intake in sugar from packaged food and soft drinks.

This is true in both developed and emerging markets, the latter having previously been associated with malnutrition.

Petersson continues: “Since the beginning of the ‘war on sugar’, many food items, typically regarded as healthy by consumers, have been criticised for their high sugar content.”

“However, Nutrition data show these typically perceived healthier foods do not contribute nearly as much sugar to the average person’s diet as foods commonly considered to be treats.”

Euromonitor’s Nutrition’s per 100g information shows that fruit snacks, for example, have a similar average sugar content to chocolate confectionery, while children’s breakfast cereals can be compared with sweet biscuits.

“What appears as healthier often is not. However, what really matters in the quest to reducing sugar consumption is not just the sugar content of food but the overall sugar contribution food categories make to the average person’s diet,” said Petersson.

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