Nutrition Matters

Free Sugars - what are they all about? 

Have you seen or even used the new ‘Sugar Smart’ app? The app is available for download to encourage us all to make smart changes with our food and drink choices, and reduce the amount of sugar that we consume each day. Simply scan the bar code of a food or drink product and the app will tell you how much sugar the product contains. Did you know that it is now recommended that children aged over 11 years and adults, should be aiming to have no more than 30g sugar each day, which is equivalent to 7 sugar cubes, and it's even less for younger children. This includes sugar added by:

  • A food manufacturer, to sweeten the taste of a product

  • A chef where you might eat out or get a takeaway from

  • You as a consumer e.g. on your breakfast cereal or in a hot drink

All of these different sources of sugar are now described as ‘free sugars’, which although sounds like they can be ‘freely consumed’ it is in fact the opposite, as they need to be limited in our every day diets. Free sugars also include sugar that is naturally present within honey, syrup and unsweetened fruit juices. Although unsweetened fruit juice does contribute to one of your five a day, because all of the naturally occurring sugars within the fruit have been released during the food manufacturing process, it does mean that juices are naturally high in sugar, whilst also being very easy to consume. Therefore if you are having a drink of juice every day, this should be limited to drinking no more than 150ml a day.

The new 30g per day guidance has come about because it’s recognised that as a nation we are all consuming too much sugar in our diets, which is making a significant contribution to our daily calorie intake. If we consume more calories than what our bodies need, and we don’t exercise to ‘burn off’ those calories, then weight gain is inevitable.

Content Sugarman3

You may be thinking that as you don’t add sugar to your brew you don’t need to be concerned, but you may be consuming hidden sugar that you are not be aware of. For example, an average can of cola contains 9 cubes of sugar, a muffin can contain five cubes of sugar, and an average 330ml bottle of pure fruit juice contains more than the 30g of free sugar just from a drink!  That is why the only drinks that we serve to pupils at lunch time is milk or water.

To further support children with reducing their free sugar consumption, we've been gradually changing our dessert offer. Our 'second course' menu option now offers a range of lighter and savoury recipes, such as fruity yoghurt crunch, our own version of dippers featuring breadsticks, crudites with a low fat cream cheese. Fresh fruit and yoghurts also remain popular second course options. As a result of the new second course menu, we've worked out that in the last year we've reduced the amount of free sugars served in school meals by circa 97 ½ tonnes or 3 large limestone lorries worth!

Mfstc 2571

If you have any feedback or ideas for us about the second course options, please let us know using our contact us page. For more information about free sugars, and to download the app please visit:

nhs.uk/change4life-beta/campaigns/sugar-smart/home