World Health Organization Sugar Update Welcomed by Heart FoundationNews /
The release yesterday of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines around sugar has been welcomed by the Heart Foundation.
The updated WHO recommendations state that added sugars be limited to a maximum of 10 per cent of people’s daily energy, and ideally no more than 5 per cent (or 6 teaspoons per day) for the biggest health benefit. At present, Australians consume far more than this.
National Heart Foundation, CEO Mary Barry, said that excess sugar intake is of concern to the Heart Foundation because it increases the risk of overweight and obesity which is an independent risk factor for heart disease.
In those surveyed as part of the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey, total sugar (both added and naturally occurring sugar in dairy and fruit) contributed to an average 19-20 per cent of total energy intake (depending on gender) for adults aged over 19 years. The primary contributors of added sugars were:
- Cereal based products and dishes – such as sweet biscuits, cakes, muffins
- Soft drinks, flavoured mineral waters, electrolyte, fortified and energy drinks
- Sugar products and dishes.
“While a moderate intake of sugar can be an acceptable part of a healthy diet, people who consume a lot of high-sugar foods and drinks, at the expense of more nutritious options, risk missing out on the nutrients required for good health.
“The Heart Foundation has always recommended limiting foods that are high in sugar such as sugar sweetened beverages (soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, vitamin waters and energy drinks), confectionary, cakes, dairy desserts, pastries and biscuits. These foods are considered ‘discretionary foods’ along with others like pastries, pies, pizza, fried fish, hamburgers, hot chips and sugary, fatty and salty snack foods, all of which should be limited in a heart healthy diet,” Ms Barry said.
“We have long held the position that the majority of people’s dietary intake should come from a variety of foods including vegetables, wholegrain, lean meats, oily fish, fruit, low fat dairy and vegetable and seed oils. Remember to also include plain, unsalted nuts, seeds and legumes,” Ms Barry said.
The Heart Foundation’s mandate is for all Australians to have a high standard of heart health, and the best way for people to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, is to reduce their intake of discretionary style foods (which are often high in sodium and saturated fat, along with sugar and energy) and increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.
Ms Barry said it is clear current eating patterns are far from ideal with over 35 per cent of foods adults eat containing very little nutrition and are deemed ‘indulgence foods’.
“The area of nutrition is complex and it’s not possible to reduce it to one item over another. There is no single super food or food demon; rather, it’s more important to ensure your diet is balanced for good health and if you have specific concerns an Accredited Practicing Dietitian is best placed to offer individual dietary advice,” Ms Barry said.
The Heart Foundation has been calling on the government to recognise that sugary drinks are an issue in Australia.
“Australia is ranked in the top ten countries for soft drink consumption. Sugary drinks provide no nutritional value and are empty kilojoules. We know almost 50 per cent of children consume a sugary drink on a daily basis, consuming on average 1.2 cans of soft drink per a day.”
The Heart Foundational also joined Diabetes Australia and the Cancer Council on a campaign that encourages Australians to Rethink Sugary Drink.
Media contact: Dominique Lemon National Media Adviser (03) 9321 1533 Mob: 0411 310 997