Do YOU know how much chocolate, biscuits and ice cream you can eat in a week? MailOnline graphic tests whether you know your sugar limits
- NHS guidance states the average adult should have no more than 30g per day
- Sugar found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables do not count to the limit
People who eat too much sugar risk weight gain, tooth decay and an array of health conditions, experts have long warned.
But while NHS guidance sets the maximum daily intake at 30g of free sugars a day, or 210g per week, it can be difficult to know what combination of food you can actually eat before hitting this limit.
Those with a sweet tooth who enjoy tucking into chocolate, biscuits and ice cream every day may be in for a shock.
MailOnline’s graphic offers up four combinations of sugar-packed treats — but only one falls within the health service’s sugar guidelines.
NHS guidance states that the average adult should have no more than 30g of sugar every day or 210g per week
Option one — a single bar of Dairy Milk — has a whopping 201.6g of sugar, which means the first option on the graphic is the only one that falls within the NHS target, as long as it is consumed over the course of a week. However, doing so leaves just 8.4g of free sugars for the rest of the week’s meals and drinks.
The NHS sugar limits only apply to free sugars — those added to products — rather than those found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables.
But the other combinations of sugary snacks shown in MailOnline’s graphic well surpass the NHS guidelines.
Campaigners told MailOnline that they want stricter policies from the Government that force food manufacturers to slash the sugar content in their products — as many treats are impossible to enjoy while sticking within the 30g per day limit.
Those who ate one bar of Dairy Milk and five chocolate digestives over the course of one week, the second option in this website’s graphic, would consume 225.6g of sugar.
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This combination, plus a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough, contains 327.9g.
Those who also then consume two Mars bars over seven days would be eating a whopping 389.9g of sugar — nearly double the NHS target.
Campaign Lead at Action on Sugar, Dr Kawther Hashem said: ‘Whilst it is important to guide the public on the maximum daily limit, many adults are oblivious to this information.
‘We therefore need strict government policies for the food industry, to ensure they reduce levels of sugar in their everyday products and protect our health from avoidable illnesses and early deaths.’
Many people, unaware of the guided sugar levels, fill their lunches with crisps, chocolate and biscuits to get them through the work day.
Data from the British Nutrition Foundation suggests that the average woman actually consumes 44g of sugar, while men have 55g.
But enjoying a bar of chocolate on your lunch break can quickly eat through most of the Government’s recommended ‘free sugars’ for the entire week.
As well as the 30g of free sugars per day limit, the government recommends that that these sugars should not make up more than 5 per cent of the calories a person gets from food and drink each day.
This means a bar of chocolate every day for your lunch — which have around 10 to 31g of sugar — can almost guarantee you go over the limit every day.
Campaigners are now calling for stricter policies from the government as many UK treats make it almost unrealistic to enjoy a snack while maintaining a balanced diet as just one of these treats can take the majority of your sugar allowance for the week
If you prefer to enjoy a little treat while watching some night-time TV, this could also make staying in those tight guidelines almost impossible.
But some combinations do fall within the NHS sugar limits of 210g per week.
These include six Mars bars (186g), two Terry’s Chocolate Orange Milk Balls (185.26g) or two tubs of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream contains (204.6g).
Two packets of McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives Biscuits (151.62g) and two bags of Haribo Starmix (164.5g) also fall within the NHS guidelines, if consumed over the course of seven days.
Nutritionist Nichola Ludlam-Raine, based in Leeds, said: ‘It’s a stark reminder that indulging in even one of these treats can consume a significant portion, if not all, of our weekly sugar allowance, excluding sugars from drinks and regular meals.
‘The guidelines might seem stringent, but they’re designed to encourage a shift in our consumption patterns towards more whole, nutrient-dense foods and away from sugar-laden processed products.
‘While it’s okay to enjoy treats occasionally, it’s essential to be mindful of their sugar content and balance them with other nutrient-rich foods.’
Sugar is one of the biggest culprits fuelling Britain’s bulging waistline.
One in four adults and 23 per cent of children aged 10-11 years in England are obese, making the UK one of the worst countries in Europe for obesity, behind Malta and Turkey.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide
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