People who consume too much sugar risk weight gain, tooth decay and a host of health problems, experts have long warned.
But although NHS guidelines set the maximum daily intake at 30g of free sugars per day, or 210g per week, it can be difficult to know what combination of foods you can actually eat before reaching this limit.
Those who have a sweet tooth and enjoy eating chocolate, cookies, and ice cream every day may be in for a shock.
MailOnline’s graphic offers four combinations of sugar-packed treats, but only one falls within the health service’s sugar guidelines.
NHS guidance states that the average adult should consume no more than 30g of sugar per day or 210g per week.
Option one, a single bar of dairy milk, has a whopping 201.6g of sugar, meaning the first option on the chart is the only one that falls within the NHS target, provided it is consumed in the course of a week. However, doing so leaves only 8.4g of free sugars for the rest of the week’s meals and drinks.
NHS sugar limits only apply to free sugars (those added to products) rather than those found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables.
But the other sugary snack combinations shown in MailOnline’s graphic far exceed NHS guidelines.
Campaigners told MailOnline they want stricter policies from the Government forcing food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their products, as it is impossible to enjoy many delicacies if the 30g per day limit is adhered to.
Those who ate one Dairy Milk bar and five chocolate digestifs over the course of a week, the second option on the graph on this website, would consume 225.6g of sugar.
This combination, plus a tub of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough, contains 327.9 g.
Those who then consume two Mars bars over seven days would consume a whopping 389.9g of sugar – almost double the NHS target.
Dr Kawther Hashem, campaign manager for Action on Sugar, said: “While it is important to educate the public about the daily maximum limit, many adults are unaware of this information.
“Therefore, we need strict government policies for the food industry, to ensure they reduce sugar levels in their everyday products and protect our health from preventable diseases and premature deaths.”
Many people, unaware of the indicated sugar levels, fill their lunch with chips, chocolate and cookies to get them through the work day.
Data from the British Nutrition Foundation suggests that the average woman consumes 44g of sugar, while men consume 55g.
But enjoying a chocolate bar during your lunch break can quickly use up most of the government’s recommended “free sugars” for the entire week.
In addition to the limit of 30g of free sugars per day, the government recommends that these sugars make up no more than 5 percent of the calories a person gets from food and drink each day.
This means a chocolate bar every day for lunch, which is about 10 to 31g of sugar – you can almost guarantee that you go over the limit every day.
Campaigners are now calling for stricter policies from the government as many UK delicacies make it almost unrealistic to enjoy a snack while maintaining a balanced diet as just one of these delicacies can consume most of the serving of sugar for the week.
If you prefer to indulge in a little treat while watching TV in the evening, this could also make meeting those strict guidelines nearly impossible.
But some combinations do fall within the NHS sugar limits of 210g per week.
These include six Mars bars (186g), two Terry’s Orange Chocolate Milk Scoops (185.26g) or two tubs of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream (204.6g).
Two packets of McVitie’s milk chocolate digestive biscuits (151.62g) and two bags of Haribo Starmix (164.5g) are also within the NHS guidelines, if consumed within seven days.
Leeds-based nutritionist Nichola Ludlam-Raine said: “It’s a stark reminder that indulging in even one of these treats can eat up a significant portion, if not all, of our weekly sugar ration, excluding sugars from foods. usual drinks and meals.
‘The guidelines may seem strict, but they are designed to encourage a shift in our consumption patterns towards more whole, nutrient-dense foods and away from sugar-laden processed products.
“While it’s okay to enjoy treats from time to time, it’s essential to be aware of their sugar content and balance them with other nutrient-dense foods.”
Sugar is one of the main culprits behind Britain’s bulging waistline.
One in four adults and 23 per cent of children aged 10 to 11 in England are obese, making the UK one of the worst countries in Europe for obesity, behind Malta and Turkey.
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 amounts
• 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