What are your 2015 New Year’s resolutions? This January the Departments of Health’s Change4Life campaign has kept with the theme of the Action on Sugar’s campaign which dominated the media last year, and has suggested ways for the public to reduce their sugar intake with their new Sugar Swaps campaign to bring in the New Year.
While government guidelines state that no more that 10% of a person’s daily energy or calorie intake should be made up of sugar, at present, children aged 4 to 10 years are consuming up to 50% more than this.
This is hardly surprising when you look more closely into in the amount of sugar some of our well- loved supermarket brands contain. For example have you been fooled into thinking your bowl of Bran Flakes plus juice was a good start to the day? It actually accounts for half our recommended daily amount of sugar. Do you think a smoothie is a healthy beverage alternative, well, an analysis of over 200 juices, smoothies and fruit drinks by the health group Action on Sugar revealed more than a quarter of the beverages tested contained at least as much sugar as a glass of Coca-Cola, with up to six teaspoons per 250ml glass!
Action on Sugar has called for manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar they add to their products, and for the Government to withdraw its advice that a small glass of unsweetened fruit juice can count towards fruit and vegetable intake recommendations.
Despite raising levels of obesity and related diseases it is clear from the above that manufacturers are not looking out for our long-term health or our waist lines, as long as their food tastes ‘good’! By packing our everyday foods with sugar and salt we become immune to this taste, making everything else taste bland! Therefore it is up to us as consumers to start to take responsibility in our hands and not be so easily influenced by the manufacturers!
I think the Change4Life campaign has hit the nail on the head, in terms of providing simple solutions to a large problem:
Example of changes includes:
- The breakfast swap: sugary cereal for plain cereal, like a wholewheat biscuit cereal
- The drink swap: from sugary drinks to sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks
- The after school swap: for example from muffin to fruited teacake
- The pudding swap: for example from ice cream to low-fat lower-sugar yoghurt
There is no need to go analysing the label of every single food item, the campaign suggests some small changes that make you think about your food choices and not necessarily reach for the first sugary drink or cereal that your spot on the shelf. Compared to fad diets, the suggestions are realistic and sustainable, let’s hope everyone sticks to their new year’s resolutions and that more similar campaigns come our way!
by Leanne W.