How much sugar in your food? Depends where you live. David Gillespie, author of bestselling book Sweet Poison and the brand new Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide points out the wildly different amounts you’ll find in different countries
One of the advantages of our globalised economy is that you can travel just about anywhere in the world and be comforted by familiar foods. There are very few places you won’t find a Big Mac or a box of Kellogg’s Special K. But don’t be fooled, they may look the same and even come in the same wrapper, but under the packaging lurk significant differences in sugar content.
Burger King Whopper
The flagship burger at Burger King is the Whopper. In Australia a Whopper contains 6.5 grams of sugar, but the same burger in Britain and the US is loaded with almost twice as much. Weighing in at 11.8 grams in the UK and 12 grams of sugar in the US, this ‘savoury’ burger has almost three teaspoons of the white stuff. If you want more sugar then hit up the UK Burger King nine piece pack of Chicken Nuggets with dip, which comes in at a hefty 15.1 grams (almost four teaspoons of sugar). You’ll get less sugar if you have a Burger King Ice Cream Cone (13.2 grams) instead!
McDonald’s Big Mac
Over at McDonald’s, pretty much the same thing is going on. A Big Mac from Australia delivers 5.9 grams of sugar, but in the UK you can expect eight grams and in the US its nine. That 35-50% increase can add up to an awful lot of sugar if McDonald’s is a frequent destination for your ‘savoury’ food (even if you don’t touch the sugary drinks).
Kellogg’s Special K (Original)
The playing field is no more even in the breakfast cereal packet either. Brits apparently love loads of sugar in their Kellogg’s Special K. At 17% sugar, this ‘healthy’ cereal beats the Australian version (14.5%) and slam dunks the US version (12.9%). That means that Britons are getting a whole extra teaspoon’s worth of sugar (4 versus 3) in their man-sized bowl (100g) of original recipe Special K than Aussies and Americans.
By now you might be thinking the best way to reduce your sugar intake is to move to Australia (and buy your Special K from the US), but not so fast. The tables are turned when it comes to coleslaw. It seems Aussies and Americans like their chopped cabbage to have almost as much sugar as dessert, but Brits want the sweetness dialled down a bit. A KFC coleslaw in the UK is 7% sugar (yep, a regular serving contains almost two teaspoons of sugar), but that exact same menu item in the US is 12 per cent sugar (a slightly bigger serving than the UK contains three and a half teaspoons of sugar).
The grand prize however goes to Australia with a monster 14 per cent sugar (a serving the same size as the US one would contain five teaspoons of sugar – let me say that again – five teaspoons of sugar! – in a side salad!). It’s obviously possible to make versions of these foods with significantly less sugar than they do in some countries.
Why can’t Brits have Big Macs made to the Australian recipe and why can’t Australians have the US version of Special K? Simply applying a lowest sugar content rule to these internationally available foods would massively reduce sugar consumption without anybody having to change a single thing about the food they eat.
If you want to find how to out avoid the sugar in processed and take-away food, take a look at David Gillespie’s new Sugar Free Shopper’s Guide. David is also is the author of Sweet Poison: How sugar makes us fat. He lost six stone just by giving up sugar. Watch David’s eye-opening and useful series on how to give up sugar and lose weight on Healthista’s YouTube channel