Researchers of University of North Carolina have sounded alarming bells citing increased sugar consumption all over world, especially in beverages which include aerated and energy drinks and they sought imposition of sugar tax and urgent governmental intervention.
They found that currently 68 percent of packaged foods and beverages in the United States contain caloric sweeteners, 74 percent include both caloric and low-calorie sweeteners, and just 5 percent are made with low-calorie sweeteners.
The study also reveals that in low- and middle-income countries, sugar consumption is rising fastest but that it is declining in high-income regions such as North America.
Barry M. Popkin, Professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and faculty fellow at the Carolina Population Center, said “The added sweeteners come from hundreds of different versions of sugar, all of which have roughly the same health effect.”
Seeking an immediate intervention, Prof. Pokin said rest of the world will also move soon toward a similar pervasiveness of added sugars in the packaged food and beverages as is evident in many developing countries already. However, in high-income countries, the diet-conscious consumption of less calories and sugars is showing up some positive results, he noted.
The study found that the consumption of sweetened beverages is rising fastest in low and middle-income countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. “The four regions with the current highest consumption are Latin America, North America, Australasia and Western Europe, though intakes are beginning to decline in the latter three,” said Prof. Popkin.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Panel of 2015 among other country-specific organizations have warned against consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to improve public health, Popkin said.
“The continued evaluation of not only sugar taxes, but also new marketing controls and front-of-pack labeling, is important and represents the next frontier in attempting to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and all food products with added caloric sweeteners,” he said.