Sugar is killing us and we need to do something about it.
The dietary changes we've made over the past 30 years have been a disaster for our health, leading to epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
This has largely been due to our increased intake of two foods that are detrimental to our health: sugar and vegetable oils.
For many years, sugar was a luxury item - "white gold"' - enjoyed only by the rich. With the industrial revolution in the 19th century, sugar refineries could produce refined sugar in large quantities at a fraction of the previous price.
This allowed the development in the 20th century of the confectionery and soft drink industries.
The major source of added sugars, especially among children and teenagers, are soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and flavoured water and teas.
On average, each Australian has 64 grams (16 teaspoons) of added sugar per day. Teenagers consume significantly more.
In 2011-12, Australians consumed an average of 105 grams of total sugars per day.
Just over half of this was free sugars (60 grams, equivalent to approximately 15 level teaspoons of white sugar) with the balance (45 grams) being the intrinsic sugars within intact fruit plus the naturally occurring sugar in milk.
Just over half (52 per cent) of all free sugars consumed were from beverages, led by soft drinks, sports and energy drinks (19 per cent), fruit juice and fruit drinks (13 per cent), with the sugar added to beverages such as tea and coffee contributing 7.3 per cent and cordials 4.9 per cent.
At 14-18 years, the average daily intakes of free sugars were 92 grams for males and 70 grams for females (23 and 17 teaspoons respectively).
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These are the major source of added sugar in the average Australian diet, especially among teenagers.
In a 2011-12 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, almost half (44 per cent) of all Australians aged two years and over had consumed sweetened beverages on the day before: 34 per cent had drunk sugar-sweetened beverages and 10 per cent artificially sweetened beverages (diet drinks).
In an average week, 62 per cent of Australian children drink fruit juice/drinks at least once, 58 per cent consume carbonated soft drinks, 32 per cent drink cordial and 29 per cent consume frozen drinks.
Within the Australian population, consumption of sweetened beverages increases with age from childhood, peaking in the teenage years, then declines among adults with age.
More children (47 per cent) than adults (31 per cent) consume sugar-sweetened beverages.
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