Newly formed group Action on Sugar has been in the spotlight in recent weeks because they are trying to face up to the dangerously levels of refined sugar added to processed foods.
Newly formed group Action on Sugar has been in the spotlight in recent weeks because they are trying to face up to the dangerously levels of refined sugar added to processed foods. They’re calling on our food industry to cut 30% of sugar from British food. As students, I think we can all put our hands up and admit that we‘re all guilty to getting the occasional processed meal from the supermarket because they’re cheap and cheerful. (Trust me; I’ve worked in a supermarket). Two of the most stereotypical student foods contain higher levels of added sugar than you might have expected.
Heinz Baked Beans
Your bog standard size tin of “The beans that are good for the heart” is 415g and as students are often cooking for just themselves, it’s not uncommon to indulge in a tin to yourself. After examining the packaging for Britain’s favourite canned brand, I learnt that half of a tin is 10.3g of sugar meaning that gobbling down the whole thing gobbles down 20.6g of sugar! You wouldn’t expect that from a tin that also claims to be one of your five a day now would you?
A jar of pasta sauce
Another student favourite! On inspecting the Ragu Tomato and Basil pasta sauce in my fridge, I realised that my 400g jar has 6.9g of sugar per 100g serving. That’s a lot of sugar to be consuming in what is considered a good meal, especially pre adding the cheese and pasta.
When we look at the numbers, it looks like as a nation, we’re consuming far too much of the sweet stuff. And it’s true. The majority of people are guzzling down far too many sugary and fatty foods. It’s campaigns like this that make people sit down and realise how much negative stuff they’re putting into their bodies, accidentally or not!
The obesity experts behind Action on Sugar are launching their campaign to pressurize the government and food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of processed food/drinks by up to 30% cutting our calorie intake by a whopping 100kcal per day. The government and the food industry need to take a greater interest in what goes into food before it’s shelved in the supermarkets. It may not be the key to tackling obesity but if people know exactly what’s hidden in what they’re choosing to eat, it could be a step in the right direction.
I am by no means a health expert. I wouldn’t even describe myself as someone who has ever taken an interest in eating healthily. In fact, I only really started taking an interest in what I eat since I started university – or rather when my mum was no longer within calling distance, telling me what to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I just knew I didn’t want to be one of those students who eats takeaways every night! I’m a believer, as I think everyone should be, of a traditional balanced and varied diet. “Kids, you can have your cake if you eat your vegetables!”
You also have a right to know what you’re putting into your body (we wouldn’t want a repeat of the horse meat scandal revelations) as well as how much of a substance you’re feeding yourself. We rely on our health and the health of a new generation by religiously reading packaging so lets make sure that the food industry is providing us with the correct information. No blurred lines.
Image: John Robinson