Sweet wash – natural sweeteners still heavy on the scales

Cancer Council is warning Queenslanders against health claims on products sweetened with sugar substitutes, many of which still contain higher than recommended levels of sugar.

The warning follows the release of new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines recommending sugar intake be limited to less than 10 per cent of total energy intake to reduce risks of overweight and obesity.

According to the WHO, a further reduction to below five per cent, or about 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said many products using sugar substitutes could still contain significantly more sugar than the recommended daily intake.

“Soft drinks using a substitute such as stevia might be marketed as ‘healthy’, but a 375ml can still has more than five teaspoons of sugar, equal to about 22 grams,” Ms Clift said.

“Many Queenslanders are unaware that products promoted as ‘healthy’ often contain high levels of sugar, fat and sodium and should only be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

“All of us should aim to reduce the sugar in our diet by checking nutritional information panels when buying processed and packaged foods and drinks.

“Consumers should also be aware of ‘hidden’ sugars, which often appear on nutritional panels under other names, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, and fruit concentrates.”

Cancer Council warns that many products contain more than 20 grams of sugar per serve, equal to about five teaspoons.

“Consumers who aren’t careful could consume their whole daily intake of sugar in one sugary snack or sweetened drink,” Ms Clift said.

“Some brands of tomato sauce contain a five grams of sugar in just one tablespoon.

“Limiting sugar intake is proven to reduce risks of overweight and obesity, and chronic diseases such as cancer.

“Up to one third of all cancers can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes including eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight.

“We’re urging all Queenslanders to read the labels, spot the sugars, cut their consumption, and stay healthy.”

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children