WAR ON SUGAR: US LAGS BEHIND OTHER DEVELOPED NATIONS
Daily sugar consumption in the US is more than double the WHO’s healthy upper limit. What makes hitting healthy targets on sugar consumption so difficult? Datamonitor Consumer’s new research on sugar consumption sheds light on the sticky issues.
NEW YORK – 21st January 2015 – New research from Datamonitor Consumer reveals that whilst sugar consumption in the US is going in the right direction, there remains a long battle ahead to win the war.
The WHO recommends the average adult consumes no more than 50g of sugar (about 12 teaspoons) per day inclusive of both added and naturally occurring sugars. However the average American adult currently consumes more than double this at 29 teaspoons per day (116g).
US habits slow to change
Despite their placing as one of the top 10 sugar consuming nations, Americans are slow to change their habits. With US consumption falling at an average rate of just 0.2% per year, it would take several hundred years for American consumption to reach the WHO recommended healthy upper limit. Indeed, of all the major developed nations (including Canada and UK) consumption is falling at a slower rate indicating more drastic intervention will be needed to accelerate the decline.
Teens are the biggest sugar consumers
American teenagers consume the most sugar, with 15-19 year olds getting through 32 teaspoons daily, from sources including fruit, breakfast cereals, confectionery and soft drinks. Worryingly, the rate of decline in consumption is even slower among the younger generations at 0.1% per year, highlighting the need for greater emphasis on dietary education from an early age to help transform eating habits as they move into adult life.
Whilst the US figures appear discouraging, the Americans are not the worst when it comes to consumption. Currently placing seventh out of 25 markets covered in the new Datamonitor Consumer analysis, US consumption is predicted to fall to eighth place by 2019; being overtaken by South Africa. Brazilians are the biggest offenders, consuming a staggering average of 40 teaspoons of sugar per day. In contrast, the Chinese could be considered the “healthiest” nation, consuming just eight teaspoons per day. However, this could change.
“Whilst consumption in China is currently low, it is increasing significantly as the Chinese increasingly adopt ‘westernised’ dietary habits,” explains Melanie Felgate, Food and Drink Analyst at Datamonitor Consumer. “In fact, based on our predictions, Chinese consumption is likely to exceed the recommended 50g daily limit within the next 30 years.”
Encouragingly, food habits are changing for the better
More positively, changing consumption habits resulting from increasingly health-attentive consumers will likely help speed up the decline in consumption over time.
“Our most recent study found over a quarter of US consumers to be very concerned about having too much sugar, and well over half (62%) are actively trying to limit their intake,” continues Felgate. “As they become more aware of how much sugar is really in their food and drinks, their consumption habits are changing. For example, there are people who are switching away from sugary fruit, towards vegetable-based juices and snacks, to better meet their “five a day” target.”
For more highlights from Datamonitor Consumer’s latest databook “Sugar Consumption in 25 Markets, 2008 to 2019,” please access the new infographic here.