The nation’s addiction to sugar is reaching crisis point as it is revealed that on average Irish people are consuming more than four times the recommended amount.
The problem is escalating out of control and now babies as young as ten months old are being treated for obesity.
The issue was investigated by Dr Eva Orsmond as part of a RTÉ documentary called Sugar Crash.
Dr Orsmond warned that even foods that appear to be healthy can hide large amounts of sugar. She said: “There are around 50 different names for sugar which the food industry uses, but only 11 are included under the EU guidelines.
“So technically you could say your product has no added sugar if you are using one of the other 39.
“And labels don’t tell you if the sugar occurs naturally or is added. For example half a gram of sugar is naturally present in a portion of oats for porridge.
“But I picked up a portion from a coffee chain which was breakfast porridge for one where you just add water and microwave it.
“I looked up the calories and first of all for the same amount of ordinary oats you would have around 150 calories, but this came to just under 300.
“And this had 17 grammes of sugar in this portion – which would taste much nicer than the porridge you would have at home when our daily limit for health is 25 grammes.
“But the product is being marketed as a warming, filling porridge so if you don’t look at the label you would still believe you are eating healthily.”
The hidden sugars in our foods is the main concern for health experts, with countless manufacturers adding sugar to products marketed as low-fat to improve the flavour.
On average, people in Ireland are consuming more than four times the World Health Organisation’s recommended amount of sugar per day.
It is predicted that Ireland will become the fattest nation in Europe by 2030 if things don’t change.
There has been a steady rise in the number of patients receiving sugar addiction treatment and health experts warn that the puiblic need to be aware of the contents of the foods they are eating.
Dr Orsmond explained: “Since the 70s food manufacturers reduced fat content with consequences we are only now understanding.
“Sugar meets all of the same criteria as alcohol. It is an energy source but not a nutrient and when consumed in excess alcohol does damage to your body.
“We keep alcohol out of the hands of children but we don’t think twice about giving them a glass of soda or orange juice.”
The documentary will be broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.30pm tonight.
It also examines the problems excessive sugar intake can cause to our teeth, and also warns that it is not just obese people that need to watch their sugar intake.