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Sugar labelling - which measurement method is most meaningful to you?


Hi all, we are looking into the issue of added sugar in food products and are interested in potential labelling solutions.

What measurement method is the most meaningful for you? Here is an example; One serving of Kellogg’s NutriGrain contains;

  • 10.7 grams sugar
  • 2.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2.5 teaspoons of sugar plus an image of 2.5 tsps of sugar
  • 10% of your daily intake

To put this in context. In 2015, the World Health Organisation released a recommendation that no more than 10% of total daily energy intake should come from added sugars . For an average adult intake of 8,700kJ, this equates to 52g or 13 tsps of sugar. Interested in what makes most sense. Especially in regards to grams vs teaspoons.


Fructose - A Debate
Fructose - A Debate

Hi @kday, my preference is for a per 100 grams amount (as this is what I usually look at most often) then a serving size amount. Following that it would be very helpful to see an image, such as a cup and a half. This would be especially useful if I don’t have my glasses at the ready.


I prefer the 2.5 teaspoons of sugar as the best option BUT please be aware that this only takes into account the amount of cane sugar present. Often there are even more sugars included (fructose etc) and these too should be included as “total sugars”.

I’ve always read the ingredient labels of all processed foods, and have learned over the years that the higher the position on the list, the greater the proportion of that ingredient.


I too prefer an image of the amount of total sugar contained in a product . Unless I measured it out I would have no idea of what 10 grams or 100 grams of sugar equates to in actual size .


I agree with @kathryng76, grams per 100 grams of food is a useful measure, it’s a number directly representing the percentage sugar contained.

Also, actual size pictures of the teaspoons of sugar that are contained in the packet/container would really show just how much sugar there is. Of course, some products may need to drastically increase their label size to fit all the teaspoons in!


Thanks @vax2000 @gordon @jezemeg8 @kathryng76 - very useful. So if you had labels with teaspoons of sugar pictured, would you like to know the breakdown of what sugars are naturally occurring in the product (i.e. from fruit and lactose) and what sugars are added to the product? Maybe the teaspoons could be colour-coded? Green indicating natural sugars, red indicating added??

Or considering the health advice from the Australian Dietary Guidelines and World Health Organisation is to reduce added sugar intake would you just want the teaspoons of sugar to illustrate the sugars added to the product?


Naturally occurring in one colour and added in another colour spoon .


I really don’t have a preference. What annoys me most is the “no added sugar” labelling. All that really means is that the last processor hasn’t added any more sugar, it does not tell us how much sugar has already been added to a product they’ve sourced from elsewhere for example in juice concentrate…if they were compelled to include ALL the sugars, whether natural or added by whatever means during whichever process it would give a far clearer picture.


I think the natural green and added red spoons is a good idea. Perhaps some shading or other indication of the proprtions of glucose, sucrose, fructose etc, although it could get a bit too complicated that way, so perhaps just list the breakdown in the table.


I prefer actual measurement…SI units rather than teaspoons. Teaspoons can mean different things to different people unless one knows that a teaspoon is 5mL in metric cooking.

SI units also would cater for imported ingredients.

Knowing actual sugars embodied in non-sweetner ingredients woukd be useful along with added sugar.

Providing added sugars are tightly defined to prevent additional sugars being reported as ‘natural’ sugars. Concentrated juices for flavouring could be one example of a sweetner that is reported as a ‘natural’ sugar.


I think both the table and the graphics would be handy, not everyone knows how much 5g is.

Standard SI units are metre, kilogram, second these days, although it used to be centimetre, gram, second, so some decimal places might be required! :wink:


Well my first problem is what is “One serving”, how many regular users of products use or bother to know the given serving size? I think for some cereals this is about 40g and I know I don’t weigh mine. Then you have kids using products like Nutri Grain and they just adsorb it through skin contact (that’s what it seems like at times).

So a measure against 100 ml/g is probably a great starting point, I acknowledge the previous posters of this idea, maybe as a bar with the amount of added sugar as one colour and natural as another , then the number of spoons per serving of added sugar with the serving size shown in large, bold, print and then a statement this is ???% of your daily recommended allowance.


I usually don’t even look at things like sugar content, but if I did I’d prefer the % of daily recommendations.


Thanks @grahroll, yes there are big problems with serving sizes, especially in breakfast cereal (I doubt teenagers pour themselves 40g of Nutri-Grain!).

Thanks for your thoughts!


Hi Katinka

My preference is to see what percentage of the product is sugar, and also what percentage 100g or 100ml of that product is of the maximum recommended daily intake of sugar.
{For example, 43.28% sugar(s) & 36.78g sugar per 100g/ml is 162% RDI etc.}

[I have edited the example above to make it clearer]


I prefer to know how much sugar per 100g and then it’s easy to calculate up or down depending on your own serving size.


I’m old school, I prefere teaspoons


I would prefer to read 1 teaspoon and see an image of the sugar. X


@kday I am accustomed to the g / 100g as I have been checking labels for so long. But the image, especially colour-coded, would make the labelling more universally acceptable - and encourage children to pay attention to what they are eating - and also useful when the print is too small for me to read! Yes there needs to be differentiation between added and naturally occurring sugars.


Added sugar, carbohydrates and natural occurring sugar is still all sugar. I like the current method of total sugar per, 100 grams.