In denial about our sweet tooth

Thursday , 14 January 2016 by Aimee Bourke

Kiwis are in denial about their sugar habit and quick to criticise others, according to research by Southern Cross Healthcare Group. A recent survey of over 2000 New Zealanders showed a vast difference between the amount of sugar people believe they consume daily, and how much they think others eat. This is despite research from last year showing that 63% of respondents believe they consume too much sugar, and 73% believe it’s a cause of the country’s obesity problems. The 2015 survey showed that:

  • 41% believe they consume less than 5 teaspoons of sugar per day – less than what is found in one cup of orange juice.
  • 24% believe the average New Zealander consumes between 10 and 14 teaspoons of sugar a day – between 8 to 10 teaspoons are commonly found in a can of fizzy drink.
  • 20% believe the average Kiwi gets through 15 to 19 teaspoons of sugar per day.
  • 17% believe the average Kiwi gets through 20 or more teaspoons of sugar per day.
  • Comparably, only 4% of Kiwis believe they consume 20+ teaspoons of sugar a day.

Nutrition Foundation nutritionist Sarah Hanrahan says Kiwis are clearly confused about what is in the food they eat – and are paying the price with weight gain.

“The 2008/09 Adult Nutrition survey showed that in reality New Zealanders consume between 24 – 30 teaspoons of sugar per day – which is way above these estimates. If only 4% of people think they’re eating this amount daily there’s a long way to go before we start to tackle our obesity problem.

“Sugars occurring naturally in foods like milk and fruit have valuable nutrients and aren’t the problem, it is the added sugars in processing causing concern. For many people a lot of added sugar in their diet comes from packaged foods, including cereals, soft drinks, sauces and snack foods.

“Eating more wholefoods and cutting back on heavily processed foods can be a good step toward reducing sugar intake.”

Southern Cross Healthcare Group spokesperson Aimee Bourke says the health implications of a sugar-heavy diet are dire.

“New Zealand as a country is getting fatter - one in four Kiwis have a BMI that categorises them as obese. At the same time we’re seeing a rise in chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart disease, and excess sugar intake is linked to all these.”


Editor note:

Conducted by TNS the online survey of 2002 randomly selected New Zealanders was carried out in November 2015.