Britons are the second largest consumers of sugary drinks in Western Europe, according to a study.
People in the UK consume almost four and a half sugary drinks a week on average, including fizzy colas, lemonade, energy drinks and fruit-flavoured drinks, according to the latest data available for 2018.
That makes us the second worst country in Western Europe, after Belgium, despite evidence that too many sugary drinks cause tooth decay and obesity, and are linked to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.
A study comparing 185 countries looked at the average amount of sugary drinks people consumed: one drink was equivalent to eight fluid ounces, which is just under half a pint in the UK.
Between 2005 and 2018, despite growing awareness of the harms of sugar, people in the UK increased their consumption of sugary drinks by about a tenth of a drink.
People in the UK consume almost four and a half sugary drinks a week on average, including fizzy colas, lemonade, energy drinks and fruit-flavoured drinks, according to the latest data available for 2018 (shown in the graph). Our total was also well above the 2.8 drinks recorded in France, 2.7 in Germany and 3.1 drinks per week in Australia.
The UK also ranked among the five worst countries for sugary drink consumption, with an average of 4.4 drinks a week, almost three times the 1.5 drinks recorded in Italy, and double the 2.2 drinks weekly consumed on average in Sweden. Our total was also well above the 2.8 drinks recorded in France, 2.7 in Germany and 3.1 drinks per week in Australia.
And this increase was greatest in people ages 20 to 39, who are the largest consumers of unhealthy drinks, consuming almost seven sugary drinks per week.
The researchers, who found the highest consumption of sugary drinks in sub-Saharan Africa, listed 24 high-income countries in their analysis.
The UK also ranked among the five worst countries for sugary drink consumption, with an average of 4.4 drinks a week, almost three times the 1.5 drinks recorded in Italy, and double the 2.2 drinks weekly consumed on average in Sweden.
Our total was also well above the 2.8 drinks recorded in France, 2.7 in Germany and 3.1 drinks per week in Australia.
The British came just behind Americans, consuming an average of 4.9 sugary drinks per week, while the Belgians consumed 5.2 drinks, while the Maltese were the worst among high-income countries, consuming an average of 6.2 drinks per week.
Professor Dariush Mozaffarian, lead author of the study, from Tufts University in the United States, said: “Intake of sugary drinks has increased since 2005, particularly among people under 40 in the UK, despite the efforts of public health to reduce its attractiveness”.
‘This is worrying, but it makes sense as the advertising is mainly aimed at younger people.
‘These drinks are designed to look fun and cool, and are advertised by inspirational sports stars and popular singers.
“In addition, young people often feel invincible, so they are less likely to think about the health effects of soft drinks.”
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found a 16 percent increase in global consumption of sugary drinks between 1990 and 2018.
In the UK, as seen around the world, men tended to drink more than women.
The findings are based on large national surveys that asked people over 20 about their diet.
In the United Kingdom, people were asked to remember what foods and drinks they had consumed in the previous 24 hours, and indicated how many servings of different types of foods and drinks they normally consumed in a separate questionnaire.
Survey results up to 2018 were not available for this country, but were estimated based on previous years and similar countries.
The highest number of servings of sugary drinks was recorded in Rwanda, where the weekly average was 34 drinks, and in the West African nation of Togo, where the average was 29 in 2018.
But in India, China and Bangladesh, the weekly average was just one-fifth of a drink.
Overall, some of the world’s highest consumption of sugary drinks occurred among highly educated urban adults in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The study did not include tea or coffee sweetened with sugar because, unlike the sugary drinks examined, their content is usually less than 50 calories per cup.
It has been five years since the UK introduced a sugar tax, forcing makers of drinks with too much added sugar to pay a tax.
Hattie Burt, from Global Action on Salt, Sugar and Health, commented on the study: “This new research highlights the importance of policies designed to improve the nutritional quality of foods and drink.”
He said the sugar tax had worked well to encourage manufacturers to remove sugar from soft drinks, but added: “Stronger measures like this from the government are needed to improve our food environment, including restrictions on marketing and promotion of foods considered rich in fat”. , salt and sugar.’
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS.
• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Base meals are based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains.
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole grain crackers, 2 thick slices of whole wheat bread, and one large baked potato with skin.
• Eat some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) by choosing low-fat, low-sugar options.
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish each week, one of which should be fatty).
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small quantities
• Drink 6 to 8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should consume less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day.
Fountain: NHS Eatwell Guide