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


I find the best way to eat healthily is to avoid processed foods as much as possible, then you don’t have to spend time poring over ingredients and “nutrition” lists trying to figure out how much added sugar there is :wink: When my fruit trees are in season I consume a lot of it (eg. half a dozen pears and a couple of apples yesterday), so will no doubt be over the RDI for sugars, however, I do a lot of mountainbike riding at fairly high intensity ~800kcal/hr if my Garmin hardware and software is to be believed.

The recommended daily intake is a bit problematic IMHO- not everyone uses the same amount of energy in a day- is it calculated for some sort of average (ie sedentary and overweight these days) person?


I’m torn between teaspoon illustrations and % of daily intake. I do like the idea of showing natural and extra sugar, the green and red spoon ideas though, that might make it easier for people who don’t know much about nutrition to understand the label.


Like others, I am used to checking the nutritional label for the % per 100 grams. However, I assume we will still have that table and so what we need in new labelling is something easy for the people who don’t read nutritional labels.

Pictures of teaspoons would be great - especially if they are colour coded for natural and added sugar. (As long as ‘natural’ is not misused to include added sugar from ‘natural’ sources such as fruit juice as a sweetener.) But I am torn on whether it should be teaspoons per average serving (again that would be open to abuse with unrealistically small servings) or per 100grams. The problem with the latter is that 100grams may bear no relationship to the amount being consumed (especially if it is a food eaten in much larger amounts) and give false reassurance as to how much sugar is being consumed. On balance I suggest using teaspoons per average serve and keep a close eye on that so that manufactures are called out for using unrealistic serving sizes.

I have never liked the use of % of RDI as we vary so much in our energy use that RDIs are really not accurate for the majority of us. We either need less (if we exercise less than average) or more (if we exercise more than average). How many of us are right on the average?


A teaspoon - is this a heaped teaspoon,or a leveled teaspoon of sugar?


Percentage is the easiest to calculate. But for people to visualise quickly? Maybe a bar graph with added sugar and naturally occuring sugars red and green in the single column if its a small amount then use a magnifying glass symbol to make it readable. The biggest problem is some labels are printed in such small writing because of package size that its hard to read without constant taking on and off of glasses for some people. Would be great if the supermarkets had printed info sheets at the end of each isle in large format. Maybe we should have a health tick symbol too, for processed foods which actually are healthy. The heart foundation ticks are laughable. If we really want to improve the collective health of society then there should be mandatory standards met to actually gain accreditation. Of course there is the problem of fructose v. the other sugars. Maybe an app or add the info into an already established data base such as my fitness pal where you can scan the barcodes and get a breakdown of the nutrients.


Hi @muzz

This is one of the problems with using a teaspoon as it can mean something different to another person, if one does not know what a standard teaspoon was. I must admit, I have used at standard teaspoon when cooking for decades and never actually knew what the measurement was…had to look at the measuring teaspoon we use and then confirmed on the internet.

A teaspoon is a volumetric measurement, whereby most solid manufactured foods one buys are in grams. As sugar is a solid, it would be better to use a weight rather than volume measurement.

A metric teaspoon is 5mL (millilitres) which corresponds to about 4g sugar. It is when the contents are level with the lip of the spoon


with addition of ‘for an adult’ after % of daily intake, and give indication of percentage for 5 and 10 year old child too - especially for food marketed at children. What would one serving of NutriGrain be in daily sugar intake for a five and ten year old child? Now I’m curious, and prepared to be horrified…


I look for sugar per 100grams but I like the spoon picture idea as it would be quicker and easier to see as an additional label.
As for color coding natural and added sugar it may help but I read that sugar is converted to fat regardless if it’s fructose or glucose etc. Often it’s the fiber that slows the bodies sugar absorption, so for me the G.I. rating is important. Is GI the best way to indicate how much sugar will be quickly absorbed in a less healthy manner? Perhaps a fiber to sugars ratio indication could be helpful.

Fructose - A Debate

None of the above. Reference to ‘servings’ are of very little use as I have no idea how the amount I eat relates to the standard and every vendor makes up their own standard serving. I am not going to start weighing out breakfast cereal to find out if I eat 70% or 130% of a ‘serving’.

I prefer a percentage of content by weight, then I can compare products using the same scale. On this basis it is obvious what is going on when (say) Weetbix are 4% and FruteLupes are 34% regardless of any serving size.


A level teaspoon; about 4 grams. To avoid the many ills of eating fructose (50% of sucrose) two or three teaspoons of sucrose (aka cane sugar) a day from all sources is recommended. That’s 8 to 12 grams of fructose. 10 grams is the recommended maximum.


None of that is significant. What matters is total sugar content. It makes no difference whether it is “natural” (aka inherent) or added. Understanding the label is easy - just avoid anything with more than two percent “sugars” and you will escape the many ills which result from eating more on a regular basis. Teaspoonfuls is not a bad measure if you don’t want to get technical. The maximum recommended intake of sucrose(cane sugar) from all sources is about 2 or 3 tsp a day. That sounds daunting, but once you get into the habit it becomes easy. And there are may benefits, notably getting your weight under control, but also enjoying your food more and avoiding as lot of nasty illnesses.


Hi I prefer amount stated as gm per 100 gms product which gives you the percentage of sugar content
… teaspoon measurement depends on size of teaspoon which makes it nonsentical.
Also the labels shown should be legible so you do not have to carry a magnifying glass around with you.


Cane sugar (sucrose) is 50% fructose. It’s a double molecule, one of glucose (the universal body fuel) and one of fructose. The recommended daily limit of fructose is 10 grams.


My preference is for a per 100 grams amount. I am disapointed that this option was not offered above.
The different sugars should be listed under this total amount; for example MOJO Kambucha lists the amount of fructose as well as total sugars. Similarly, if it is a milk based product then the lactose component should be listed as well as total sugars. This is because lactose is not a dangerous sugar like fructose. Lactose-free products should list galactose as well as total sugars. This is because galactose is not a dangerous sugar like fructose.
Added sugar is OK to have on labelling, however ultimately it is the fructose which is the addictive poison as it is processed in the body in the same way as alchohol.