15 Jan 2018

Sugar high: NZ soft drinks sweeter than overseas

8:05 pm on 15 January 2018

Soft drinks in New Zealand contain significantly more sugar than elsewhere in the world, a new study has revealed.

Bottles of soft drinks, isolated on a white background. (file photo)

Sugar content in NZ soft drinks is higher than elsewhere in the world. Photo: 123RF

The University of Waikato study compared the nutritional content and serving size of five categories of non-alcoholic beverages in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK.

Lead author Lynne Chepulis said New Zealand drinks had the highest sugar levels.

"The average fruit juice or soda in New Zealand has up to five or six teaspoons of sugar, compared to maybe three or four teaspoons in the United Kingdom," she said.

Dr Chepulis blamed a lack of regulation in the food and beverage industry for the high sugar levels.

"The UK is bringing in a sugar tax for example, this has lead to a reduction by manufacturers in the sugar content of their drinks and New Zealand seems to be lagging behind in this department."

New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate in the OECD but Dr Chepulis said there had been some reluctance to the idea of a sugar tax here.

However, consumer demand was beginning to change that, she said/

"Manufacturers themselves are beginning to bring in low-sugar options... We are starting to see a shift in the New Zealand market place."

For consumers trying to make sense of nutrition labels on drinks, it was important to consider the amount of sugar in a serving, not per 100 grams, she said.

"A bottle may be 600mls, which may include two to three servings, so if you're going to drink that entire bottle you need to multiply those numbers up accordingly."

The World Health Organisation recommends keeping sugar intake below 30g to 40g a day.

Dr Chepulis said milk and water were good options for drinks, and sugary options should be consumed in moderation.

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