A food labelling campaign is hoping to be the first to offer consumers a way of identifying foods which are low in added sugar.
Scientists have developed a test which distinguishes between a product’s total sugar and added sugar content.
If it meets the low added sugar grade, the product is eligible to gain a Sugarwise logo.
The idea was proposed by mother Rend Platings, who says she struggled to find food for her daughter which she knew was low in sugar.
She said: “When I looked at toddler and baby foods I was shocked to see the amount of sugars in them.
“There you are thinking you’re getting the best thing for your baby but some of the products are actually really high in sugars.
“I was shocked to hear my daughter’s generation may live a shorter life than their parents.
“It’s not that we don’t know about the dangers of sugar – we do. The problem relates to our lack of access to healthier choices.”
Last year, health experts at the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition advised that added sugars make up just 5% of a person’s daily calorie intake.
Added or free sugars are those that are broken down quickly by the body and are accompanied by little fibre and other nutrients. They are those added to foods, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.
Health campaigners hope that clearer food labelling will help cut the confusion for consumers and support the fight against the growing problem of obesity and sugar related illness such as tooth decay and type-2 diabetes.
Dr Tom Simmonds, a research scientist from The University of Cambridge who helped develop the Sugarwise test, said the knock-on effect could be huge: “The majority of the population far exceeds the 5% free sugar guideline amount and, at the same time, obesity and sugar-related illness rates are soaring.
“Because of this, we developed the Sugarwise test and certification to let people make simple and informed decisions”.
But some experts have reservations as to how effective the scheme will be.
Dietician Lucy Jones from Public Health England said: “This target for us to consume 5% or less of our energy intake from sugars is about our daily overall intake.
“It’s not that every food needs to contain less than 5% sugar. And most of us are perfectly able to have some treats within our diet that are higher than 5% added sugars or free sugars.”