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Halve the recommended daily amount of sugar in our diets, scientists tell government

Excess sugar in our diet costs the NHS £15bn a year Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA

Britain should halve its recommended allowance of free sugars in foods in order to tackle the growing obesity and diabetes crisis, a committee of scientists has told the government.

Under proposed guidelines, one can of fizzy drink would contain more than half the daily amount for children under 11.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition estimates that health problems caused by excess free sugar - added to food by manufacturers or naturally present in honey and juice - cost the NHS around £15bn a ear.

The SACN also hopes to reduce tooth decay, which is the top cause of hospital admissions amongst children.

The government has said it will accept the recommendations and will be using them to develop its forthcoming national strategy on childhood obesity, due out later this year.

White sugar crystals Credit: Daniel Karmann/DPA

The guidelines say the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as fizzy drinks, soft drinks and squash, should be minimised by both children and adults in particular because of their links to weight gain and the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

However, Britain will not be introducing a sugar tax, which has been suggested by many, including the British Medical Association.

Health campaigners have also accused the Government of pushing back a review by Public Health England (PHE) on how these measures could be implemented by the public.

A spokesman denied claims that it had been pushed back, but campaigners said the time difference between the two reports will mean a vital opportunity to show how to introduce a healthier diet is lost.

Health experts said 5% of daily energy intake is the equivalent of 19g or five sugar cubes for children aged four to six, 24g or six sugar cubes for children aged seven to 10, or seven sugar cubes for those aged 11 and over, based on average population diets.