In July 2015, a government report announced that the UK should halve its sugar intake. Despite this guidance and the introduction of the sugar tax, it was found that in 2019 sugar consumption has increased. People are seeing the harmful impact of sugar on their health at younger ages than ever before and it’s time to take real action.
High sugar intake has been linked to tooth decay, weight gain, and type two diabetes. Current recommendations are that adults consume less than 30g sugar each day, the equivalent to about a 375ml glass of orange juice. Children between the ages of seven and ten should consume even less: a maximum of 24g.
Kids are especially vulnerable to sugary cravings as they are more sensitive to bitter, sour, and salty flavours. Sugar masks these flavours. We have evolved to be drawn to high energy foods, which often taste sweet, and shy away from potentially toxic foods, which tend to taste bitter. This instinct is especially important when we are young and need to grow quickly and before we have learnt what food is safe and what is not.
Despite some fads – like the paleo diet – we are no longer cave men or hunter-gatherers. Energy rich food is plentiful and we don’t have to go hunting or climbing trees to reach it. Our insticts don’t fit our environment so we need to be more aware of what we are putting into our bodies.
In recent years, alternatives to added sugar – such as fruit sugars – have become more popular. They are being combined with healthy fats and fibre to create meals and desserts that are both delicious and great for our health.
At Radish, we’re keen to encourage more uptake of healthy foods and reduce the amount of sugar we use. Wherever possible, our foods are sweetened with natural sugars. For example, using fruit in our desserts means we can use less added sugar.
This Spring term we will be introducing the Sugar Sheriff to all of our primary schools. This interactive and engaging campaign will teach our children to be ‘sugar smart’. Each week, our menu will have one day of food without any added sugar, marked by the Sugar Sheriff. We don’t use any bought in sauces as these are often high in sugar. We even make our own ketchup!
An important part of this campaign is educating children on why we are reducing sugar in our food. A school assembly on sugar facts and mini quizzes hosted by our Sugar Sheriff will kick off the campaign at the start of term. The Sugar Sheriff will work alongside our current healthy eating campaigns.
On the days where we use recipes with added sugar, we test every part of the menu, adding as little extra sugar as possible while creating dishes that are still sure to go down a treat. Our menus have been created with our company nutritionist and at least 75 per cent is prepared freshly on site. School food standards are followed, ensuring all food is healthy and balanced.
We’re also working with Public Health England to meet their sugar reduction targets by 2020. We’re proud to help children to make healthier choices at school, and set them in the right direction for the rest of their lives.