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How much sugar do you drink?

Half a litre of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar – almost the entire recommended daily sugar allowance. But fruit juice is as bad.

Sugar should make up less than 10% of our daily energy intake, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines. That works out to about 50g or 12 teaspoons of sugar for a person of normal weight.

The WHO further recommends that a reduction to below 5% (six teaspoons) would have additional benefits for dental health.

A 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal reported that South Africans consume an average of 84g, of sugar a day – far more than what is good for us.

A 500ml bottle of sugar-sweetened soda, such as a Coke, has 40g, or 10 teaspoons, of sugar – almost the entire recommended daily sugar allowance. Up to half of grade eight to 10 pupils in South Africa in 2008 were reported to be consuming fast foods, cakes and biscuits, cool drinks and sweets at least four days a week, according to Stellenbosch University dietician Celeste Naudé. 

Mia Malan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Bhekisisa. She has worked in newsrooms in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Washington, DC, winning more than 30 awards for her radio, print and television work.