Sugar is a commonly used ingredient in many recipes for a variety of foods and drinks that many Malaysians love.
Frequent consumption of foods and drinks high in sugar will result in excessive intake of calories. If these extra calories are not “burned” up in the body through physical activities, the person is said to be in positive energy balance.
However, there is nothing positive about this condition, as the excess energy is deposited as fat in the body.
This situation can easily lead to weight gain and obesity, both of which are recognised risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart diseases.
The Malaysian Dietary Guidelines (MDG) emphasise limiting the intake of sugar, regardless of whether it is used in foods or drinks.
Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) also strongly recommends that the intake of free sugars (i.e. both added sugars and sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates) be limited to less than 10% of a person’s total energy intake.
This recommendation applies to both adults and children.
For instance, if your child is between seven and nine years old, his daily energy requirement is 1,800kcal (for girls, it is 1,600kcal). Thus, his maximum daily sugar intake from all foods and drinks should not exceed 180kcal.
What this means in terms of amount of sugar is not more than nine teaspoons or 45 grams of sugar per day.
If a child consumes a can of soft drink or a piece of chocolate cake (see table), he would have reached the maximum recommended daily sugar intake.
Watch out for sugary traps
It is often easy to have a high sugar intake as there are many added sugars in food and drinks. You have to be more alert in order to reduce any excessive intake of any foods and drinks that are sugar-rich.
As a consumer, you will have to be more savvy in learning how to identify the “hidden and added” sugars that pre-packaged foods may…