Children eating 1.2kg less sugar every year

Ibec research shows marked reduction in sugar intake between 2005 and 2017

Having surveyed 235 products on the market, Ibec found that sugar intake fell 8 per cent between 2005 and 2017. Photograph: iStock

Having surveyed 235 products on the market, Ibec found that sugar intake fell 8 per cent between 2005 and 2017. Photograph: iStock

 

About 1.2kg of sugar was removed annually from children’s diets between 2005 and 2017, a study into the food and drink sector has found.

Research from business lobby group Ibec found that significant changes in the drinks industry led to a marked reduction in sugar intake, with children benefitting most.

Teenagers reduced their intake by 2.7g per day in the same period while adults and pre-schoolers saw decreases of 0.8g per day and 0.2g per day respectively.

For the most part, the decline in intake was driven by the beverage category with intake for high consuming adults falling 3.3g per day and for high consuming children by 6.3g per day.

Ibec’s study set out to calculate the impact on Irish diets of efforts in the food and drink industry to reformulate recipes and develop new products. Among the companies that provided data for the study were Britvic, Coca-Cola, Danone, Glanbia, Kellogg’s, Kerry foods, Mars, Nestle, Pepsico and Unilever.

While there was a reduction in sugar, saturated fat intake in the average diet decreased while sodium, total fat and energy intake remained stable.

Having surveyed 235 products on the market across 15 companies, Ibec found that total fat fell 0.3 per cent, saturated fat dropped 10.1 per cent, energy dipped 1.6 per cent, sodium intake declined 38 per cent while sugar fell 8 per cent in the period.

‘Striking’

The reduction in sugar was seen as “striking” by Ibec, given that the fall occurred without overall increases in fat, saturated fat or sodium.

It noted the research predates the introduction of the sugar-sweetened drinks tax by the State.

Meanwhile, some meat products and savoury snacks saw an increase in sugar consumption. “These minor increases may be attributed to the rising popularity of more convenience-driven sub-categories of these foods, which may contain more sugar versus other products in this category,” the lobby group said.

“It is widely acknowledged that no single intervention can reverse obesity or improve eating patterns,” Linda Stuart-Trainor, director of prepared consumer foods at Ibec said.

“This report demonstrates the food and beverage industry’s commitment to the societal effort to tackle obesity and to make progress towards meeting nutritional targets for the Irish population.”