Updated 25 February 2016

Sugar secret - What SA needs to know

Manufacturers must reveal how many teaspoons of sugar go into foods as it will help consumers better understand the amount of sugar contained in food products, urges COPE.

The Congress of the People (COPE) wants manufacturers to indicate how many heaped-standardised teaspoons of sugar go into foods.

"Uncontrolled use of sugar is the bane of our time," COPE spokesperson Dennis Bloem told Health24.

Take this quiz: Am I eating too much sugar?

He said an indication of sugar in teaspoons; compared to the weight of sugar by grams, will help consumers better understand the amount of sugar that is contained in food products.

"It is imperative that as many South Africans as possible should come to understand the enormous harm that uncontrolled intake of sugar is doing to their health."

What is sugar?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that comes in many different forms. In its simplest form it is called a monosaccharide and includes:

  • Glucose (occurs naturally in fruits and plant juices)
  • Fructose (occurs naturally in fruits, some root vegetables, cane sugar and honey)
  • Galactose (combines with glucose to form lactose)

Read: Why too much sugar is bad for you

The party also appealed to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to tackle sugar’s role in our nation’s health crisis with the speed it deserves.

Cope called on the minister to obtain screening rights for "That Sugar Film" by Australian actor Damon Gameua.

"This documentary shows how being on a sugar rich diet leads to the development of a fatty liver and how it predisposes one to diabetes and heart problems," Bloem said. "It is graphic, it is simple, it is personal. It will persuade more than statistics. It is really worth watching."

Read: Carte Blanche reveals the shocking dangers of sugar addiction

In an experiment under medical supervision, the actor-turned-director - who gained 8.5 kg and a paunch after a 60-day low-fat diet, including yoghurt, cereal, muesli bars and juices - increased his sugar intake while maintaining his exercise routine, but stayed away from soft drinks, chocolate and ice cream – traditional villains in anti-obesity campaigns.

Doctors said the sugar experiment put the actor at risk of fatty liver disease, while his body fat had risen by 7 percent.

Cope wants the movie to be screened on as many TV channels as possible; as well as for it to be dubbed into other official languages.

The party also called on the ministers of education to arrange for learning institutions to screen That Sugar Film.

"If students, teachers, health workers and policy makers became activists for healthy living and then applied tax measures on sugar, our nation’s health will have improved considerably," said Bloem.

Read: The DA says a sugar tax will be devastating to SA

Watch the trailer of That Sugar Film

Also read:

10 foods with hidden sugar

Why your body needs sugar

Don't fall for the sugar witch hunt

What's SA's most sugary sauce?

What’s SA’s most sugary drink?


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