Never mind free sugar, what about the fibre?

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

Rick Pendrous, editor, Food Manufacture
Rick Pendrous, editor, Food Manufacture

Related tags: Nutrition

Judging from the press coverage it received, it would be easy to get the impression that the recommendations to halve the total daily energy intake derived from free sugars in people's diets from 10% to 5% a day was the only thing of any significance in the 'Carbohydrates and Health' report published last month by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).

But this would be quite wrong. The SACN report – which has been a very long time in its scientific gestation – has much more to say.

This is particularly true for its recommendations on fibre (like sugar, also a carbohydrate). As described by Professor Judy Buttriss, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), it is recommended that intake of dietary fibre should rise from 24g a day to 30g for adults.

Demonisation of sugar

While the demonisation of a single ingredient – sugar – grabbed all the headlines for its contribution to the obesity epidemic across the nation, poor old fibre got very few column inches.

However, fibre intake is very low across the population, which is putting the health of some at serious risk from diseases such as bowel cancer and diabetes.

How to meet recommendations

The BNF has done some simple dietary modelling and developed a seven-day menu to illlustrate how it might be possible to meet the new recommendations on free sugars and fibre, as well as those on salt and saturated fat.

However, some academics doubt free sugars can be reduced to 5% of a person’s daily energy intake in practice, given that the National Diet and Nutition Survey shows the average intake is around13%. And, given that the average intake of fibre is just 18g a day, raising this to 30g will also be a formidable task.

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