What Is Sugar?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sugar is a carbohydrate, a natural source of energy found in many types of food.


A top down shot of a brightly coloured drink on a pile of sugar

There are six types of simple sugars.

The six types of simple sugars

Know Your Limits

In 2015, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition reviewed the role of carbohydrates in the diet, and UK recommendations were changed to recommend that no more than 5% total energy should come from free sugars 1, 2.


In Practical Terms

5% of daily energy intake corresponds with:

Adults and Older Children (11yrs+)
7.5 teaspoons (30g) of free sugars per day

Children (7-10yrs) 
6 teaspoons (24g) of free sugars per day

Children (4-6yrs) 
5 teaspoons (19g) of free sugars per day


What Are Free Sugars?

Free sugars include all added sugars, all sugars naturally present in honey and syrups,  fruit juices, vegetable juices, smoothies and similar products in which the structure has been broken down, as well as;  lactose and galactose added as ingredients. It does not include the sugars naturally present in milk and dairy products, fresh and most types of processed fruit and vegetables and in cereal grains, nuts and seeds. ‘Total Sugars’ consists all the sugars found in a food.3


What About Juices? Experts Say:

  • Compared to whole raw fruit, fruit juices contain less fibre and some micronutrients.
  • Limit consumption of fruit juices to 150ml per day, which counts as 1 of 5 a day. Too much juice increases the risk of tooth decay.2
  • Choose juicy waters or water down pure fruit juice to increase the volume of the drink, without increasing sugar consumption. 

The impact of adding excess free sugars to diets


Tell Me More

Berries, mint leaf and sauce next to a sorbert

Many consumers are looking to limit sugars in their diet and appreciate transparency. Why not help them out?

You can help by displaying front of pack nutrition information on menus, cups, wrappers, or other containers. In line with EU guidelines, nutrition information displayed must either state the energy value (kJ and kcal) alone or energy value (kJ and kcal) plus amounts (in grams) of fat, saturates, sugars and salt.

Those who are looking for the information will appreciate your support. It may help guide them to the menu choices that are right for them, or reassure them that their old favourites fall within their needs.

Contact us if you’d like more information on the work we’ve done to reduce sugar and calories in our products. 



  1. SACN, Carbohydrates and Health, 2015
  2. NHS Choices, How does sugar in our diet affect health? 2017 
  3. PHE, A definition of free sugars for the UK, 2018 
  4. PHE, National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2018
  5. UK Government, Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action, 2016
  6. PHE, Public Health Matters, 2017