A 25 gram challenge

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that adults consume only 25 grams of sugar per day, but most people fall short of this number by overconsuming sugar. Indeed, sugar is the most recent bugbear of the developed society, and of quite a few of the developing ones.

Even the much-vaunted Mediterranean diet is becoming less prevalent in the countries that gave birth to it. Italy, Spain and Greece are all seeing increases in obesity, and their children are the fattest in Europe, according to the Guardian newspaper website. “Sweets, junk food and sugary drinks have displaced the traditional diet based on fruit and vegetables, fish and olive oil,” said Dr Joao Breda, head of the WHO European office for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.

But what to do? Manufacturers are working to cut sugar in their products and consumers are looking at the reduced calorie/lower sugar claims. And, interestingly, UK organisations such as Eating Better and encouraging people to eat less dairy. This is just a mistake – we know that dairy is a highly nutritious and fairly low fat way to get those nutrients. Yes, there is naturally occurring sugar, but a chocolate milk has a lot of intrinsic values over many other drinks available. Sometimes, people throw the baby out with the bathwater on nutrient advice, and in this case, removing dairy doesn’t lead to less weight gain and lower sugar intake.

I saw a talk years ago at Kings College in London, and the professor said, bluntly, obese children don’t eat more dairy, they eat less. They eat sugary foods and drink fizzy drinks. The way to help with the sugar issue is not to ban certain food groups, but to ensure that the bulk of their intake is healthy and nutritious. These are qualities that dairy has in abundance.

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