We all consume way too much sugar than is good for us. I’ve tried hard to reduce my own sugar intake over the last two years, and, I thought, quite successfully, until a friend recently pointed out the sugar content of Mrs. Ball’s chutney and All Gold tomato sauce – staples in the Fourie household. He won’t be invited for dinner again.
But the consequences of our overindulgence is no joke. Excess sugar consumption is linked to a range of diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. In South Africa, these issues are of particular concern. The 2016 South African Demographic and Health Survey finds that 68% of women, 31% of men, and 13% of children are overweight or obese. The National Income Dynamic Survey exposes the large gender gap for the poor: while only 4% of men in the poorest income quintile is obese, 31% of women in the same quintile are. That is why obesity-related diseases are among the top causes of death in the country; its prevalence only rivalled by HIV/Aids.
Most of these sugars come from what we drink. The World Health Organization recommends that a male adult should consume no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar per day; a 330ml can of Coca-Cola contains eight. Such soft drinks are a particularly large contributor to dietary sugar among the young, the poor, and those with high overall dietary sugar intake.
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10 September 2020