The world health organisation (WHO) recommends that we have 25g of added sugar in or diet or about 5% of our energy intake. The average intake of added sugar in western countries is around 20% of daily calorie intake around 100g per day which is four times the ideal level set by the WHO.
Despite efforts to control sugar intake, we all know the saying – ‘room for dessert.’ Neuroscience can actually explain this phenomenon. A study in 20016 researchers measured the desire for sweet, salty, fatty and savoury foods before and after a meal. The study found that the desire for sweet foods remained the same, despite being full and the desire for all other foods went down. They also found that we have a very strong emotional connection to sweet foods, possibly because it once was so rare in nature. It has also been found that when sugar is combined with fat an even higher hedonic point in the reward centre is reached and this actually contributes to overconsumption.
This research really highlights that it requires a lot of will power to ‘just have one chocolate or sweet’ due to the reward centres in the brain. Therefore we should implement practical strategies to reduce the urge to over consume. When it comes to buying sweets, only purchase a small amount because we are wired to overconsume sweets. Keep sweets out of the mind’s eye – out of sight out of mind, swap refined sugar for fruit sugar and cook more at home to control artificial amounts of sugar.