Many Australians, particularly children, consume excessive amounts of sugar. In those surveyed as part of the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, sugar contributed almost one-quarter of total energy intake. This is of concern as sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay. Recent evidence also suggests that the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk of weight gain.
In Australia, sugar is a popular addition to many manufactured and pre-prepared foods, contributing to flavour, colour and texture, and acting as a preservative. Among foods rich in added sugars are confectionery, cakes, pastries, biscuits, fruit drinks, cordials and carbonated soft drinks.
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 World Health Organization recommends that no more than 10 per cent of energy should come from added sugars. This is less than current Australian levels of consumption.
To help Australians limit their intakes of added sugars, the Food and Health Dialogue will aim to reduce the sugar content of commonly consumed manufactured and pre-prepared foods and drinks, particularly those targeted towards children.