How to Halve Added Sugar in Your Diet: WHO Guideline
The World Health Organization has recommended that people should aim for just 5% of their daily calories from added sugar, which is half what most people eat now (about 10%).
This is equivalent to 50g of sugar for women and 70g for men.
In terms of teaspoons, this is 13 teaspoons for women and 15 teaspoons for men.
In terms of total sugars in foods, not just added sugar, the general recommendation is about 90-100g (22 teaspoons of sugar; 380 Calories).
But what is the best way to cut down on the amount of added sugar in your diet and your children's diet?
The best place to start is by examining where the added sugar in your diet comes from, and what you can do to lower sugar intake by changing your diet.
Sources of Added Sugar in the Diet - Age Groups
Average Added Sugar in the Diet of Various Age Groups
Looking at the back of a processed food packet such as breakfast cereal, snack bars or soft drinks will often show the amount of sugar in a serving of the food as well as total sugars and calories from sugar. A good way to compare foods is to see how many teaspoons of sugar is contained in a serving of these foods.
There are some glaring examples such as popular sodas and fruit juice drinks. One 330ml can of regular Coca-Cola or Pepsi contains 35g (about 9 teaspoons) of sugar, all of it added sugar. But there are many surprises as well. One of the worse is sweetened orange juice which can contain 7 teaspoons of sugar in a single glass. Processed breakfast cereals also have very high sugar levels with Honey Smacks having 14 teaspoons of sugar in a single bowl. Fruit Loops style cereals have 11 and Cocoa Puffs 9 teaspoons of added sugar.
One way to explore how to reduce your intake of added sugar is to look at where most of the added sugar in your diet, and your family members diet, is coming from.
The image shows how the amount of added sugar consumed varies with age groups.
The key points are:
- All age groups exceed the recommended maximum level of than the 11% level, but children consume excessive amounts of added sugar.
- Teenagers get about 40% of their daily added sugar from soft drinks
- Sweets, jams, lollies, confectionery contribute about 20% of children's sugar intake.
- Young children get most of their added sugar from cereals and drinks including fruit juice.
- Adults aged from 19-64 get most of their added sugar from cereals, confectionery and jams and from soft drinks and juices. Alcohol adds another 10% to the amount of added sugar consumed.
A detailed comparison of the various sources for added sugar is shown below
Children (younger than 3 years)
#1 27% Soft drinks
#2 25% Cereals, cakes, snacks, biscuits
#3 19% Sugars, jams, sweets (candies)
#4 18% Milk Products
#5 11% Other
Children (4-10 years)
#1 30% Soft drinks
#2 29% Cereals, cakes, snacks, biscuits
#3 22% Sugars, jams, sweets (candies)
#4 12% Milk Products
#5 7% Other
Teenagers (11-18 years)
#1 40% Soft drinks
#2 22% Cereals, cakes, snacks, biscuits
#3 21% Sugars, jams, sweets (candies)
#5 7% Milk Products
#4 10% Other
Adults (19-64 years)
#2 25% Soft drinks
#3 21% Cereals, cakes, snacks, biscuits
#1 26% Sugars, jams, sweets (candies)
#6 6% Milk Products
#4 12% Other
#5 10% Alcohol
Adults (65+ years)
#3 16% Soft drinks
#1 29% Cereals, cakes, snacks, biscuits
#2 26% Sugars, jams, sweets (candies)
#5 8% Milk Products
#4 15% Other
#6 6% Alcohol
Choosing Healthier Alternatives to Reduce Added Sugar Intake
Below is a summary of the foods with the highest and lowest amounts of added sugar
Teaspoons of Sugar in Confectionery
Marshmallows (100g) - 14 teaspoons of sugar
Milky Way bar (58g) - 8 teaspoons of sugar
Milk chocolate bar (44g) - 6 teaspoons of sugar
Snickers bar (57g) - 7 teaspoons of sugar
Dove chocolate bar (37g) - 5 teaspoons of sugar
Starburst packet (45 grams) - 5 teaspoons of sugar
Lower Sugar alternatives (note smaller servings)
Hard-boiled sweets, 3 sweets - 2 teaspoons of sugar
Chocolate mint 1 piece - 2 teaspoons of sugar
Liquorice, 1 strip - 1 teaspoons of sugar
Caramel 1 piece (10g) - 2 teaspoons of sugar
Teaspoons of Sugar in Beverages
Soft drink, 1 can – 10 teaspoons of sugar
Cola, 11 fl. oz. – 9 teaspoons of sugar
Red Bull (one can) - 7 teaspoons of sugar
Fruit juice drink, orange, 1 glass – 7 teaspoons of sugar
Flavoured milk, 300 ml carton – 6 teaspoons of sugar
Lower Sugar Alternatives
Cranberry Juice; 100g Serve - 3 teaspoons of sugar
Orange squash (one glass) – 3 teaspoons of sugar
Lucozade Sport; 100g Serve – 1 teaspoons of sugar
Lemonade (Diet); 100g Serve - 1 teaspoons of sugar
Milk, plain, 1 cup (unsweetened) – zero teaspoons of sugar
Teaspoons of Sugar in Breakfast Cereals (1 bowl)
Honey Smacks – 14 teaspoons of sugar
Fruit Loops - 11 teaspoons of sugar
Frosted Flakes - 9 teaspoons of sugar
Lucky Charms – 9 teaspoons of sugar
Cocoa Puffs - 9 teaspoons of sugar
Cocoa Krispies - 10 teaspoons of sugar
Lower Sugar Alternatives to Breakfast Cereals
Corn Flakes – 1 teaspoon of sugar
Rice Krispies - 3 teaspoons of sugar
Cheerios - 1 teaspoon of sugar
Rice Chex - 2 teaspoons of sugar
Sultana Bran - 3 teaspoons of sugar
Teaspoons of Sugar in Cookies, Desserts, Cakes
Highest Sugar in Baked Goods
Ice Cream Sauce; 100g Serve – 16 teaspoons of sugar
Cake, frosted, 1/16 average - 6 teaspoons of sugar
Country Slice; 100g Serve – 10 teaspoons of sugar
Sponge Cake; 100g Serve - 9 teaspoons of sugar
Angel food cake 4 oz piece - 7 teaspoons of sugar
Chocolate cake, iced 4 oz piece - 10 teaspoons of sugar
Chocolate Fudge Cake; 100g Serve - 7 teaspoons of sugar
Madeira Cake; 100g Serve – 7 teaspoons of sugar
Scones - Fruit; 100g Serve – 5 teaspoons of sugar
Lower Sugar Alternatives for Baked Goods
Milk Arrowroot, 2 biscuits - 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
Bread, 1 slice – zero teaspoon of sugar
Muffin, 1 medium - zero teaspoon of sugar
Banana Cake 4 oz piece - 2 teaspoons of sugar
Gingersnaps Biscuit 1 cookie - 4 teaspoons of sugar
Pound cake, 1 slice – 4 teaspoons of sugar
Danish pastry, 1 slice - 4 teaspoons of sugar
Savoury Biscuit; 100g Serve - 1 teaspoons of sugar
Oatmeal cookie 1 cookie - 2 teaspoons of sugar
Clearly, small changes in diet and care in choosing low sugar alternatives can easily halve the amount of added sugar in the diet.
© 2014 Dr. John Anderson