Sugar is a source of energy for our bodies and is required as part of a healthy diet, however over consumption can have a server impact on our health. Food high in sugar provides our body with large quantities of energy, taking in excess amounts of energy can lead to weight gain and numerous other health problems. Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) but there are large quantities of added sugars hiding in foods marketed to us as healthy, foods that unbeknownst to us are doing our bodies harm.

These added sugars offer no nutritional value to our bodies but add plenty of calories to our diets. On average, Australians consume approximately 30 teaspoons of sugar each day more than double the 12 teaspoons recommended by the World Health Organization.

Research has found links to high sugar diets and obesity which can increase our risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and fatty liver disease. Sugar can also wreak havoc on our metabolism, mood and brain function.

We all know foods such as sweets and soft drinks contain high levels of added sugars however there is an alarming number of supposedly healthy foods such as breakfast cereals, muesli bars, energy bars, fruit juices as well as low fat and fat free products that contain high levels of added sugars. These low fat alternatives generally replace the saturated fats with sugar to maintain the taste. As we become more health conscious we are turning to these foods unaware of the sugar hiding in them. For example an Uncle Toby’s Forest Fruit muesli bar contains 25.3 grams of sugar per 100 grams. It’s alarming that a quarter of that muesli bar is sugar.


It is vital that we understand what we are consuming; reading and understanding the nutritional panel on food labels as well as the ingredient list is where we need to start. As a guide we want to look for products that contain 5g or less of sugar per 100g, where as any product containing over 15g of sugar per 100g should be avoided.

You should also carefully read that ingredient list, sugar isn’t always listed as ‘sugar’ on packaging. It can be disguised under many different names. Names such as sucrose, maltrose, dectrose and fructose or many other ingredients ending in the “ose,” suffix.  Other forms of sugar are disguised as cane juice, corn syrup, dextrin and malt syrup.

Remember, fructose in its natural form is not bad. When it comes in apples, bananas etc, don’t worry about it. It is when we see it added to processed foods that we have a problem.

Now that we know what to look out for it comes down to making smarter choices. We can limit added sugar in our diets by doing simply that; cutting down on adding sugar in our recipes and in our coffees, using natural substitutes such as stevia and raw honey, swapping out cakes and biscuits for fruit as well as cutting down on processed foods and comparing labels to find the best alternative. If we can start with these few simple things we can go a long way to reversing the damage done to our bodies by something so sweet.

Pat Chirico


World Health Organisation . 2015. World Health Organisation . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 04 March 15].

World Health Organisation . 2015. World Health Organisation . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 04 March 15].

Howard BV PhD &, Wylie-Rosett J, RD, EdD ‘Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease,’ AHA Scientiic Statement, Available <> [2012]

Yang Q PhD; Zhang Z, MD, PhD; Gregg EW, PhD; Flanders WD, MD, ScD, Merritt R, MA, ‘Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults’ JAMA Intern Med, vol 174, no 4, pp 516-524, [April 2014]

World Health Organisation [Online] Available at <> [4 May 2015]