In For A Sugar Shock?

Sugar has been enemy number one in the media lately – but do you know just how much you’re consuming? The white stuff could be lurking in some surprising places, writes Susan Griffin

There’s no point sugar-coating the facts; we’ve got an obesity crisis on our hands. A quarter of all adults and a fifth of children are classified in this way, and it’s taking its toll on our nation’s health – an estimated one third of UK adults also have pre-diabetes.

Sugar is increasingly being blamed as one of the key culprits in this worrying epidemic, but it’s not just the frosty coating on a doughnut, or the number of teaspoons of the white stuff you add to your cups of tea that’s the problem (after all, the occasional treat is allowed!).

No, the biggest problem is hidden sugar, the – sometimes vast – quantities that’s been heaped into seemingly ‘non-treat’ foods and drinks to add flavour and sweetness.

Because despite efforts to label foods more clearly, it’s still not always possible to know (unless you’ve done a lot of homework beforehand) what’s sugar-laden and what’s not.

Thanks to the recent scary news reports, we do now know that a single can of fizzy drink contains seven to nine teaspoonfuls of sugar – but it’s not simply a case of cutting out the obvious suspects like these drinks, or chocolate and cakes from your diet. There’s a whole heap of hidden nasties lurking in our food these days.

“We are a country hooked on sugar, which has been added to our food to improve taste. Most people are wise to the products that contain high sugar levels, however, they may not be aware just how much they are consuming,” says Zoe Frith, in-house nutritionist for Prestige Purchasing.

“The biggest surprise for consumers is the hidden sugars in savoury products which can be unexpectedly high, such as canned goods, ready meals and sauces. We have got used to these sweetness levels in our food and, as such, are in a viscous circle – a sweet-tooth nation which would notice the difference if sugar levels were lowered.”

The Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is recommending that around 5% (down from 10%) of people’s daily energy can come from free sugars (those added to food or contained in fruit juices, honey, syrups and sweetened drinks). That would amount to 25 grams of sugar for women and 35 grams, or seven to eight teaspoonfuls, for men.

If you want to keep to this, it’s crucial you know exactly what sugar really goes into what, so the chairman of Action on Sugar, Professor Graham MacGregor, warns of some of the worst culprits you need to be wary of…

:: So focused are we on opting for the ‘healthy’ option that we don’t take the time to read the label properly. Yeo Valley O% Fat Vanilla Yoghurt contains the equivalent of five teaspoons of sugar and the Muller Crunch Corner Strawberry Shortcake Yoghurt fares even worse with six teaspoons.

:: When time is of the essence, most of us will pop into a coffee shop for a quick pick-me-up but without realising what sugar high we’re setting ourselves up for. The Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino with whipped cream (and skimmed milk) contains the equivalent of 11 teaspoons of sugar, while the Pret A Manger Very Berry Latte (with milk) isn’t far behind with seven teaspoons.

:: You might think water is a much safer option – and you’d be right if you kept it plain and simple, but Glaceau Vitamin Water, Defence was found to have the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar, that’s the same as a packet of Butterkist Toffee Popcorn or a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosties (with semi-skimmed milk).

:: We might already associate quick and easy ready meals with dubious amounts of salt, but sugar is hiding in there too. For instance, Sharwood’s Sweet And Sour Chicken With Rice contains the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar (the same as Cadbury’s Hot Drinking Chocolate); Heinz Classic Tomato Soup has four; Ragu Tomato And Basil Pasta Sauce comes in at three and Pot Noodle Curry King Pot two.

Still think sugar is sweet? No, it all leaves rather a sour taste…

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Click below to submit your query online.


* Nurses are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Midwives and pharmacists are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm; and Sunday, 8am to 12pm.
Actual response time will depend on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts but the team will always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.
Please note that our Expert Help services are there to offer health information and support. They do not diagnose or prescribe, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice given in the context of an individual consultation.


The following two tabs change content below.
Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fuelling fun for the young at heart!

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
21st Sep 2014
Thanks for voting!
It is so difficult to find any manufactured food without lots of sugar, even yoghurts, coleslaw or a healthy bean salad! Manufacturers should be restricted on the amount of salt and sugar they add to foods. They should also be banned from putting all the sugary foods at the front of the shop! My colleague bought loads of donuts the other day when she went to buy salad, because the donuts were given a prominent position whereas the salads were in the middle of the store! She fell to temptation. If supermarkets focused their promotions on the fresh and healthier foods and gave them greater prominence, I feel certain it would help to reduce obesity and increase well being.
4th Aug 2014
Thanks for voting!
I am a diabetic and I'm amazed that since its cut out fat in ur diet how many augers can we put in instead to make it taste ?good lol I try and cook fresh that way ?I'm in control but I'm still surprised how much augers are in Everyday food stuff its no wonder people are obese if the PEOPLE demandeded less augers the manufactures would have to see that happened even plain old porridge oats have augers so help the kids of the future don't start them on a road of obesaty teach them from birth to like food as it is natural n fresh and see the differance as I know its sometimes difficult if ur working so plan ahead it only takes an hour or to do it whilst sitting watching telly and will make a difference as everyone is responsible for the future planet and surely it will a better place if everyone was responsibe for what they put in their own mouths
28th Jul 2014
Thanks for voting!
The packets are clearly marked. People concerned with their intake should simply take other upon themselves to check every single label, and keep a rough track of what they've consumed recently. It's not difficult, it just takes a little getting used to.
susanna humphreys
22nd Jul 2014
Thanks for voting!
weightwatchers yogurts are fat free but contain about 8 g carb per pot. Very suitable for diabetics.

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!