Say no to ‘free sugar’ | Sunday Observer

Say no to ‘free sugar’

19 February, 2023

Researchers have highlighted the risks of ‘free sugar’, which is mainly added to food rather than occurring naturally and is found in products including fizzy drinks and cake.

It was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in a study of more than 110,000 people in the UK, whose health was tracked for nine years on average.

People who ate more free sugar were more likely to suffer a stroke or develop ischaemic heart disease – a category of heart problems, including heart attacks, caused by blood clots.

The average person in the UK gets about 12 percent of their daily calories from free sugar.

But if someone increases that intake by 5 percent – for example, by having an extra small bar of chocolate a day – based on the study results, their risk of suffering a stroke would be raised by 10 percent.

That extra intake was linked to a 6 percent increased risk of ischaemic heart disease.

Prof. Tim Key, co-author of the study from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: ‘These findings suggest free sugar in general, and not just fizzy drinks, are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and strokes.

‘Those with a sweet tooth can get non-free sugar from fruit, which is much healthier.’

The study, in the journal BMC Medicine, looked at middle-aged people from the UK Biobank study who were asked about their typical food and drink consumption over 24 hours.

These questionnaires, filled out at least twice, were analysed to work out their free sugar consumption.

The study suggests people who replaced 5 percent of their daily calories that come from free sugar with the equivalent amount of non-free sugar, from fruit and vegetables, could reduce their stroke risk by 9 percent.

Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugar a day, which is roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes, according to the NHS. -Daily