Sugar can certainly taste sweet but the dangers that it entails is beyond any imagination, hence the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended reducing the consumption of sugar by 10 per cent of the total energy consumed by an individual, which would help reduce the incidence of overweight, obesity, diabetes, heart and arterial disease, and tooth decay.
Let alone the hereditary diabetic-prone individuals, the hidden sugar enters the body system in different ways from various foods and drinks. A proper, balanced nutrition is one of the most important components of a healthy, disease-free life.
Contrary to the popular belief that sugar is found only in sweets, there are many foods and drinks that contain added hidden sugar, such as ketchup, ready-made soups, pasta sauces and salads, soft drinks, some fruit drinks, energy drinks, and coffee creamers, as well as snack foods such as biscuits and various types of bread and baked items.
A range of non-sugar sweeteners have been developed as an alternative to sugars and are widely used both as an ingredient in pre-packaged foods and beverages and added to food and beverages directly by the consumer.
"A wide range of diseases is the result of such a reckless diet and they include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults besides damaging other organs due to the consumption of sugar and sugary beverages," says Manal al Shaqsia, Nutrition Technician at the Ministry of Health.
In keeping with the requirements of the times, the availability of fast food, sweets, and sweetened drinks has become easy and available to everyone with the click of a button, which has led to an increase in the spread of obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases among different groups in society.
Sugar plays a major role in improving the taste and quality of food. It is also one of the most important sources of energy, as it provides the body with 4 calories per gramme. It is found naturally in all foods that contain carbohydrates, such as grains, fruits and vegetables, which contain fiber, essential minerals and antioxidants. Antioxidants and dairy products contain protein and calcium necessary for bone growth.
As far as hidden sugar is concerned, Dr Manal says that there is sugar under other names, such as corn syrup, cane syrup, barley syrup, fruit syrup, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, and words that end with 'goose' and others and careful attention should be made in choosing the foods without excess sugar.
Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised not to use non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) for weight control in its newly released guideline which recommended a word of caution against the use of NSS to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
The recommendation is based on the findings of a systematic review of the available evidence which suggests that use of NSS does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children.
AVOIDING HIDDEN SUGAR
1) Read the nutritional label on the product to know the type and amount of sugar.
2) Eat fruits instead of drinking juice or prepare it at home without adding sugar.
3) Drink water instead of juices when thirsty. It is preferable not to drink flavoured milk or sweetened yogurt and replace it with plain or prepare flavours from fresh fruit.
4) Avoid drinking sweetened coffee.
5) Replace sugar with healthy flavours such as dried fruits and cinnamon when preparing food.
6) Reduce the consumption of ready-made sauces and soups as they contain hidden sugar.
7) Prepare bread at home to ensure it does not contain added sugar.
8) And above all, one should develop the ability to say 'no' to sugar although it is tempting.
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