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Sugar , Sugar

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Hi Everyone,  I know its been a while since I last posted, but there are reasons – I will post more – promise

In the meantime, I was going through some of the draft blog posts I had started but not finished. and came across this one, So I dusted it off and finished it off.  I don’t know if the proposed legislation has been implemented or if it’s been altered since I started it.  In any case here it is:

3 cubes of sugar

 

 

On 16th March 2016 , the Chancellor of the exchequer, George Osbourne unveiled a new budget,chief among the new policy was a levy on sugary soft drinks – The nation is grip of an obesity epidemic and fizzy, sugary drinks have been identified as the culprit. according to other press agencies, Jamie Oliver did a little victory dance outside the Houses of Parliament as it was announced.

 

I got a lot of time for Jamie’s Efforts for institutions to raise their nutritional game it was certainly eye-opening watching his food revolution and the hostility toward him by communities that felt threatened.

however I cant help but be sceptical about all this.  Chefs on tv tells you their food is nutritious because they use the best ingredients and then smother everything in melted butter – so I figured, lets take a look at some of this celebrity chef’s menus and see how nutritious it actually is.

First up, lets define a benchmark,  According to the NHS live well website advises a reference intake – which is based on an average-sized woman doing an average amount of physical activity . the figure they have are:

Energy: 8,400 kJ/2,000kcal
Total fat: 70g
Saturates: 20g
Carbohydrate: 260g
Total sugars: 90g
Protein: 50g
Salt: 6g

total sugars can be subdivided up between sugars from milk, fruit and added sugar  like honey for example.  for the purposes of this investigation, let’s lump all sugars together

using the reference index, there are certain concentrations of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.  in 2013, these guidelines were reviewed and in some cases changed by the Department of Health. The updated figures are as follows:

Total Fat
High in fat: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low in fat: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated Fat
High in saturated fat: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low in saturated fat: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g

Sugars
High in sugars: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
Low in sugars: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g

Salt
High in salt: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g
Low in salt: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g

Jamie’s Italian has It’s menu online, and thoughtfully, it has included nutritional information for its meals, lets pick a few dishes and see  what they are like

Prawn Linguine

Calories 353
Fat 12g
Saturates 2g
Protein 17g
Salt 1g
Carbs 46g
Sugar 3g
Fibre 3g
RI 18%

well that’s really helpful, I know that this small portion of prawn linguine has 18% of my Reference intake of calories but what about the rest? lets sort that out shall we?

interestingly, Jamie Italian works on the principle that the daily recommended calorie intake is slightly less than 2000 calories – in this case 1961 calories working to those principles here’s the nutritional breakdown:

Calories 353
Fat 12g
Saturates 2g
Protein 17g
Salt 1g
Carbs 46g
Sugar 3g
Fibre 3g
RI 17.65% 17% 10% 34% 1% 17% 3.33% N/A

Nothing mentioned in the reference intake about how much fibre is too much- for this investigation we will ignore that

but lets take a second to look at the warnings again

for fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar there are 2 threshold figures that signify if a meal is high or low in salt, sugar or fats.  this is calculated per hundred grams which is handy, because that is , in effect a percentage.

that in mind we can assume:

  • if there is more that 17.5% total fats in a meal then it’s classed as High in fat
  • if there is less than 3%  total fats  in a meal then its is low in fat
  • if there is more that 5%  saturated fat in a meal then it is High in Saturated fat
  • if there is less than 1.5% saturated fat in a meal then it is Low in Saturated fat
  • if there is more than 22.5% sugar in a meal then it is high in sugar
  • if there is less than 5% sugar in a meal then it is low in sugar
  • if there is more than 1.5% salt in a meal then it is high in salt
  • if there is less than 0.3% salt in a meal then it is low in salt

So how well did the main courses at Jamie’s do ?

 

Not great. 100% of dishes were high in salt, 90% were high in saturated fat, 60% where high in fat.  In terms of sugar, only 40% of the menu had dishes that were high in sugar.  the Healthiest Meal in the list? probably the crab spaghetti, though it is high in salt.

here’s some other key points to consider about taxing sugary drinks:

  • Soft drink companies will be taxed on the volume of sugary drinks they import or produce
  • Drinks that have more than 5g of sugar per 100ml will be taxed.
  • There will be two levy bands, a high one for those products with 8g per 100ml or more and a lower band for those above 5g per 100ml.
  • The charge will equate to 18p per litre for the lower band and 24p per litre for the higher rate.
  • Pure fruit juices and milk-based products will be exempt from the tax.

interesting. I drink coke zero at home which should be tax exempt – I know that Coke zero has been rolled out to certain chains as the draught coke choice – Cineworld Cinemas are one example. Also the stevia and standard Diet coke should also be exempt.what I find more interesting is that milk and pure fruit juices will be exempt –

The main message this legislation seems to give is that drinks like Coke and Pepsi are largely responsible for our ballooning waistlines. so the drinks are taxed. and the legislation is put into place to make fruit juices and milk based drinks the healthy viable alternative right?

If we take a baseline as a 100ml bottle of standard Coke – the brand that would be taxed, lets look at some other drinks brands shall we?

It would appear that the healthy choices we are being steered to are no better, if not worse than the taxed soft drinks industry,  If the principle behind the taxation is to encourage a reduction in sugar intake in drinks, and if the legislation designed to do that, steers people to drink what is thought to be a healthy alternative, but is in fact, worse for them,  would that mean that the legislation was wrong or should it be amended that any drink with sugar levels over 5g per 100ml  should be taxed?

 

 

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