Healthy sugar consumption is way off track
New research from Datamonitor Consumer reveals that whilst sugar consumption in Britain is going in the right direction, there may be a hundred years long battle ahead to win the war.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the average adult consumes no more than 50g of sugar (about 12 teaspoons) per day inclusive of both added and naturally occurring sugars. However the average British adult currently consumes almost double this at 23 teaspoons per day (92g). Datamonitor Consumer’s research suggests that although consumption is falling at around 0.6% per year, it could take until 2116 for average daily intake to reach the WHO’s recommended healthy upper limit.
Teens are the biggest sugar consumers
British teenagers consume the most sugar, with 15-19 year olds getting through 25 teaspoons daily, from sources including fruit, breakfast cereals, confectionery and soft drinks. Worryingly, the rate of decline in consumption is slowest among the younger generations at 0.5% per year, highlighting the need for greater emphasis on dietary education from an early age to help transform eating habits as they move into adult life.
Whilst the UK figures appear bleak, the British are far from the worst when it comes to consumption. In fact, of the 25 markets covered in the new Datamonitor Consumer report, the UK falls outside the top twelve. Brazilians are the biggest offenders, consuming a staggering average of 40 teaspoons of sugar per day. In contrast, the Chinese could be considered the “healthiest” nation, consuming just eight teaspoons per day. However, this could change.
“Whilst consumption in China is currently low, it is increasing significantly as the Chinese increasingly adopt ‘westernised’ dietary habits. In fact, based on our predictions, Chinese consumption is likely to exceed the recommended 50g daily limit within the next 30 years.”
Melanie Felgate, Food and Drink Analyst at Datamonitor Consumer
Encouragingly, food habits are changing for the better
More positively, changing consumption habits resulting from increasingly health-attentive consumers will likely help speed up the decline in consumption over time.
“Our most recent study found a quarter of UK consumers to be very concerned about having too much sugar, and over half (56%) are actively trying to limit their intake. As they become more aware of how much sugar is really in their food and drinks, their consumption habits are changing. For example, there are people who are switching away from sugary fruit, towards vegetable-based juices and snacks, to better meet their “five a day” target.