Aussie children's regular diet is so filled with added sugar that the average intake, according to a new study, exceeds that of the recommended levels by the UN World Health Organisation (WHO).
A joint research conducted by experts from the University of Wollongong and the University of Sydney showed that daily consumption of calories among Australian kids surpassed the points that according to global experts could be considered as excessive ingestion of added sugar.
Aussie children’s regular diet is so filled with added sugar that the average intake, according to a new study, exceeds that of the recommended levels by the UN World Health Organisation (WHO).
Added sugar, the study said, is different from the natural sugar that comes with fruits, milk and grains and too much could lead to alarming health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
In Australia, added sugar is mostly found on soda drinks, chocolates, cereal bars and even biscuit, all of which are popular and preferred snacks by kids aged two to 16.
The new study, which lead researcher Associate Professor Timothy Gill of University of Sydney presented to the Australia and New Zealand Obesity Society, grouped the subject children in two age brackets - two to three year olds and nine to 16.
The findings indicated that the first group regularly consumes about nine per cent of calories no thanks to added sugar while the latter gobbles down 13 per cent or even more.
The alarming trend, Prof Gill said, is more noticeable on boys in the 9 to 16 age bracket, with the analysis of their nutrition and physical activity data suggesting that at least 22 teaspoons of sugar were being swallowed on daily basis by these teenagers.
The report pointed out that Aussie kids were into calorie levels that were beyond the safe zone of 10 per cent set by the WHO, with soda drinks emerging as the main culprit for the problem.
The study said at least 16 per cent of children's sugar intakes could be blamed on sweetened beverages, which Prof Gill said in an interview the Australian Associated Press (AAP), was not surprising at all.
He added that the research countered earlier reports' assertions "that total sugar consumption in Australian children may have declined slightly in recent times, this new work suggests that added sugar intake remains high."
One aim of the study is "to help separate added from naturally occurring sugars in food products consumed in Australia ... because our food composition datasets do not currently distinguish between total and added sugars."
Achieving such distinction, according to Jimmy Louie of the University of Wollongong, will in the end boost efforts by health experts in developing nutrition and food labelling guide that would empower consumer to make better choices in the future.
Commenting on the study, Professor Peter Clifton of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute is happy that researchers have brought over more solid support on health experts stance that "sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials are still a problem and need to be dramatically reduced as they have no other nutrients, just unwanted calories."
Prof Clifton insisted, however, that "the whole diet needs attention," as he added "focusing just on sugar is misplaced as for many children pizzas, pies, white bread and fast food are more of a problem than sugar."
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