Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Yes, sugar consumption has declined

This tweet was doing the rounds last week, attracting the best part of 3,000 retweets and 10,000 likes.

The tweeter seems to have monetised his interest in the keto diet. It's unclear whether he's referring to the UK or the USA. Either way, his figures are wrong.

Sugar consumption in Britain is currently somewhere around 30 to 35 kilograms per year, as multiple sources confirm. That's 66 to 77 pounds.

We have been consuming more than 5 pounds of sugar a year since the 1710s and we were consuming 90 pounds of it by the start of the twentieth century. It reached a low under rationing during World War II but even then the amount consumed (70 pounds) was about the same as is consumed today. The peak seems to have been in the 1970s when the figure was 115 pounds.

If Britons stuck to the new guidelines, which have no scientific justification, per capita consumption would be well under 25 pounds a year, a level last seen in the early nineteenth century.

That is what the facts say - and we have plenty of facts on the production, import, sale and consumption of sugar. I have written about this before, but nobody wants to believe it because it doesn't fit the current, laxy narrative and it doesn't offer easy answers.

Nevertheless, sugar consumption is lower today than it was when obesity was at a fraction of the current level. A new study published this month confirms it, and finds a similar decline across the English-speaking world. Published in Nature Food, the authors 'analysed data for 171 countries on the availability of 18 food groups from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization' since 1961 and found that...

...in many Western countries the supply of animal source foods and sugar declined.
The animal source and sugar score increased most over the half-century in China, followed by countries in southern and eastern Europe, east Asia and parts of central Asia. Meanwhile, six of the nine largest decreases took place in high-income English-speaking countries (that is Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America).
...although east Asia also experienced a large rise in the animal source and sugar score, many Western countries, especially high-income English-speaking countries, experienced declines.
South Korea, China and Taiwan experienced the largest changes, with animal source foods and sugar, vegetables and seafood and oilcrops all becoming a more abundant component of food supply. This contrasts with high-income English-speaking countries, in which the animal source and sugar score has declined substantially.

Naturally, the study was not reported by the media anywhere.

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