In 2018 the UK introduced a sugar tax, with the government stating ‘The ‘Sugar Tax’ will help to reduce sugar in soft drinks and tackle childhood obesity’ While many companies have reduced their formulas to now be exempt from this tax, some products are shown as ‘price includes £x sugar tax’, so you would assume that those products in the same store that don’t have this labelling on are better for you.
One such example are popular fast food outlet. One of their frozen drinks has the sugar tax added, it contains Sugar, glucose syrup, dextrose, fructose and lactose. all sugars, some added some found in the raw ingredients. This drink equates to 37% of an adults daily intake of sugar. Another drink they sell does not attract the sugar tax since its a frozen fruit smoothie, the sugar is all derived from fruit and lactose in the milk, and whilst this drink has less fat and one of your ‘five -a-day’ and therefore calories it contains 44% of an adults daily sugar intake. (11 tspoons of sugar)
At the end of the day sugar is sugar, its better for you when taken as a whole fruit since you also consume the fibre. Excess consumption of both glucose and fructose, will lead to weight gain and associated medical conditions. Sucrose, often referred to as “table sugar”, is composed of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule joined by chemical bonds. This means equal amounts of glucose and fructose are released into the bloodstream when sucrose is digested. In Australia most drinks are sweetened by sucrose from cane sugar, while soft drinks are sweetened with sucrose-rich sugar beet (Europe) or high-fructose corn syrup (US). High-fructose corn syrup is also made up of glucose and fructose, but contains a higher fructose-to-glucose ratio than sucrose.
Do they have different health impacts?
Yes, over consumption of fructose has been shown to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and whilst fruit and vegetables in their natural form contain fructose, the fibre they contain when eaten as a whole fruit or vegetable its very difficult to over consume.
High glucose consumption rapidly elevates blood glucose and insulin. This may affect brain function, including mood and fatigue.
So choosing a fruit smoothie may not be the best healthy option in terms of sugar.