Sugar content from cakes analysed

Scientists from Queen Mary University London have published research comparing the sugar content from 29 different types of cake. They analysed cakes from the UK’s nine leading supermarkets.

The average sugar content across all cakes sampled was 36%.

Top of the league was the Battenberg. It was found to contain up to 62% sugar by weight, with a single 50g slice providing an adult’s maximum recommended daily sugar intake.

As the obesity crisis worsens, there has been a lot of focus on fizzy drinks and confectionery such as sweets and chocolates. Campaigners feel more needs to be done on sugary products in general.

Kawther Hashem, co-author of the study and registered Nutritionist, for Action on Sugar at Queen Mary University of London says

“This research clearly shows the levels of sugar and calories in products can be reduced since there was a large variation in sugar and calorie content within the same category of cakes and biscuits yet worryingly not all manufacturers are complying. If some manufacturers can produce chocolate cake bars with 22% fewer calories per 100 g, so can others.”

Graham MacGregor, co-author of the study and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and Chairman of Action on Sugar says;
“Large amounts of cakes and biscuits are consumed in the UK so a reduction in the amount of sugar and calorie content could play an important role in helping prevent obesity and tooth decay. The majority of the food and drink industry in the UK have asked the government for a more robust and mandatory programme of reformulation.4It is a tragedy for our children that this has not been done.”

Katherine Hale, World Cancer Research Fund’s Head of Health Information, says;
“The difference in levels of sugar in very similar foods that this study has revealed is shocking, but it does show that if one manufacturer can reduce sugar levels in their products, then it is possible for other manufacturers to do the same. We now need the government to take stronger action and make it compulsory for food manufacturers and retailers to reduce sugar levels in their products. Eating too much sugar leads to overweight and obesity, which our latest cancer prevention report shows is a cause of 12 different types of cancer. Healthy lifestyle patterns depend not only on individual choices but also on governments creating an environment that encourages people to eat healthily and do more exercise. WCRF calls on the government to prioritise cancer prevention through the development and implementation of effective policies to address the rising burden of obesity and cancer in the UK.”

Martyn Gray, Managing Director of Nairn’s says;

“We know that biscuits are something of an institution – Mintel report that biscuits are eaten by 9 out of 10 people in the UK. At Nairn’s we recognise that it’s ok to treat yourself every now and then and we make it even easier for people to make that treat something that is healthier but doesn’t compromise on taste. We use less sugar in our award winning oat biscuit ranges than other biscuit brands. We also compare them against over 100 other ‘similar’ products to get a comparative average. Depending on the flavour, our biscuits contain between 30-45% less sugar than the average of those other biscuits”.

The research, published in the journal BMJ Open, provides a baseline data of the cakes and biscuits market in the UK for evaluation of the recently launched sugar-reduction programme.

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