“Hidden”, “Added” or “Extrinsic” sugars are sugars that do not occur naturally in our foods, and have been added as part of a process in a factory. These can be particularly dangerous to our health as they can contribute to an effective sugar overdose as often these sugars (in their many forms) are insidously added, and can occur in some of the most unlikely places.

These added sugars (such as table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, honey and other syrups (there is an extensive list!)) should not make up more than 5% of the total energy we get from food and drink each day. This is around 35g a day (or 8 teaspoons) of added sugar for adults, 30g (7 teaspoons) for children aged 11 to 18, 24g (6 teaspoons) for children aged 7 to 10, 19g (5 teaspoons) for childred aged 4 to 7 years and NONE for children under 4 years old.

However, recent studies have shows that people in general are having far too much of these ‘added’ or ‘extrinsic’ sugars, and this is becoming an increasing problem in children aged 11 to 18 years with the average child in this aged bracket consuming around 15% of their daily calories are from these sugars.

Sugar is sugar, whether it’s white, brown, unrefined sugar, molasses or honey. So please do not be fooled: there is no such thing as ‘healthy’ sugars. Refined sugars offer no nutritional value and are considered to be nutrient devoid, and our bodies do not need them as al lthey provide is unnecessary and empty calories.

Interestingly, for most of us, the sugar we add to our food accounts for only a small fraction of the added sugar we eat. To really make a difference to our calorie intake, our diet and our health, we need to reduce the sugar we get from processed foods and drinks.

The problem is checking for sugar on food labels can be confusing at the best of tines, as sugar comes in many different forms. These can be listed separately, but they all add up.

If you want to cut down on added sugar in your diet, then get familiar with reading food labels, comparing products where appropriate and choosing low or no sugar foods and drinks. Taking that one step further, I woul encourage you to choose foods that are as unprocessed as possible (yes, whole natural foods).

Examples of common sugars on food labels:

  • corn sugar
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • high-fructose glucose syrup
  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • agave syrup
  • invert sugar
  • isoglucose
  • maltose
  • molasses
  • sucrose

Below are the main sources of added sugar in our diets:

  • Sugar, preserves and confectionery
  • Non-alcoholic drinks
  • Biscuits, buns, cakes, bread and cereals
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Dairy products
  • Savoury foods

The big take away from this article? Learn to read food labels, and start to understand what is in the food and drink you consume.