Only one serving of most soft drinks sold in the UK contains more sugar than what you should be consuming in a day, according to a recent study published in BMJ Open.
The UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that any one over 11 years old should not consume more than 30 g (2.4 tablespoons) of sugar each day. Four to six-year-old children should consume no more than 19 g (1.5 tablespoons) of sugar each day, and seven to ten-year-old children should consume no more than 24 g (1.9 tablespoons) of sugar each day. In addition, the SACN’s recommendation to limit sugar intake to 5 percent of a person’s total daily caloric intake echoes the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for daily sugar intake.
The researchers recorded the sugar content of 169 carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the following major United Kingdom supermarkets that in aggregate hold 93.2 percent of the grocery market share: Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Co-operative and Waitrose.
The findings are based on the study-standardized 330 ml serving size. The drinks were categorized into groups labeled by their respective flavors: cola, cream soda, dandelion and burdock, elderflower, ginger beer, ginger ale, flavoured cola, orange, lemonade and other. Supermarket own brand and branded categories were also created.
Ginger beer varieties contained the most amount of sugar with an average 38.5 g (3.1 tablespoons) per a 330 ml serving; 81 percent of Ginger beer contained more sugar than the maximum daily recommended intake.
Ginger ale, the drink with the least amount of sugar, contained an average 22.9 g (1.8 tablespoons) per 330 ml serving; 36 percent of Ginger ale drinks contained more sugar than the maximum daily recommended intake. Among another type of drink with less than 50 percent of products that contained more sugar than the maximum daily recommended intake was Lemonade. On average, Lemonades contained 25.8 g (2.1 tablespoons) of sugar per 330 ml serving.
The most popular flavor in the UK, Cola, contained an average 35 g (2.4 tablespoons) of sugar per 330 ml serving.
Overall, supermarket generic soft drinks contained an average 27.9 g (2.2 tablespoons) of sugar per 330 ml serving. That’s almost four grams less than more popular branded soft drinks, which contained an average 31.6 g (2.5 tablespoons) of sugar per 330 ml serving.
“Among all of the 169 products, 55% exceeded the maximum UK’s daily recommendation for free sugars intake (30 g) per 330 mL can size,” the peer-reviewed BMJ Open reads. “Additionally, 73% of the products exceeded the maximum daily recommendation for free sugars intake for a child (24 g).”
In October of this year, WHO called on governments to tax sugar-sweetened drinks to prevent noncommunicable diseases. Last year, findings published in the journal Circulation revealed that 184,000 adult deaths were caused by consumption of sugary beverages worldwide in 2010; 25,000 adult deaths were caused by consumption of sugary beverages in the United States in 2010. In a report WHO released in May 2015, it found that hiking up soft drink prices by 20 percent would reduce consumption of sugary drinks.
A study published in the journal BMJ earlier this year found that one year after Mexico taxed sugar-sweetened beverages sales of taxed sugary drinks dropped by 6 percent. A model published in the journal PLOS Medicine projected that in 10 years consumption of sugary drinks will drop by 10 percent, in the current tax environment, and consumption of sugary beverages will drop by 20 percent if the tax on sugary drinks is increased alongside other measures aimed to reduce consumption.
The study forecasts with 95 percent certainty that between 2013 and 2022 type 2 diabetes cases will drop by 189,300, strokes and myocardial infarctions will drop by 20,400 and deaths will drop by 18,900.
Here in the states, taxes on sugary drinks were first imposed in Philadelphia and Berkeley, California. A study published in the journal AJPH found that the tax on sugary drinks has caused a 21 percent drop in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in Berkeley.
This last election voters in San Francisco, Oakland, Albany, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Cook County, Illinois (which includes Chicago) all passed measures to tax sugary soft drinks.