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Why are Sugary Processed Foods Detrimental to Health?


A 100g serving of Bournvita contains 86.7g of carbohydrates, with 49.8g being sugar, out of which 37.4g is added sugar. This means that for every 20g serving of Bournvita, consumers are ingesting about 10g of sugar. The production process of Bournvita involves malting, a technique where grains are converted into sugar. Malting is a process commonly used in the production of beverages like whiskey and malt-based milk drinks. During germination, enzymes in the grains transform their starch into sugar. Roasting these grains enhances the flavor by caramelizing the sugar present.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. FSSAI’s Guidelines on Sugar Content
  2. Health Risks Associated with Excessive Sugar Consumption
  3. Recommendations for FSSAI Guidelines

FSSAI’s Guidelines on Sugar Content

Regulations (2018):
  • According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a product can be labeled as ‘low on sugar’ only if it contains less than 5g of sugar per 100g, qualifying it as ‘healthy.’
  • Products that fail to meet this standard but still market themselves as ‘health drinks’ are a matter of concern.
  • For instance, consuming four servings of such a product would result in a sugar intake of 40 grams, exceeding the World Health Organization’s daily recommended limit of 25 grams or six teaspoons.
  • Many Indian households also add extra sugar to chocolate-powder drinks, further elevating sugar consumption.

Health Risks Associated with Excessive Sugar Consumption:

  • Weight Gain: Sugary foods and drinks are calorie-dense but nutrient-poor, leading to excessive calorie intake.
  • Chronic Diseases: High sugar intake is associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
  • Dental Issues: Sugar promotes the growth of harmful mouth bacteria, contributing to tooth decay and cavities.
  • Insulin Resistance: Excessive sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance, heightening the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Blood Sugar Fluctuations: Rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels due to sugar consumption can cause energy level fluctuations and mood swings.
  • Liver Overload: Overconsumption of fructose can overload the liver, potentially leading to fatty liver disease and other liver-related issues.
  • Addiction: Sugar can be addictive, causing cravings and overconsumption.
  • Nutritional Imbalance: Sugar-rich foods can displace nutrient-dense foods in the diet, leading to nutrient deficiencies.
  • Inflammation: Excessive sugar intake can contribute to body inflammation, linked to inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases.
  • Mental Health: Some studies suggest a connection between high sugar intake and increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

Recommendations for FSSAI Guidelines:

  • FSSAI regulations permit sugar in milk cereal-based foods for infants, with a preference for certain types like lactose and glucose polymers.
  • Sucrose and fructose can be added if necessary, but their total content should not exceed 20% of the total carbohydrate content.
    • These guidelines should be reconsidered due to the allowance of sugar in infant foods.
  • Clear regulations defining ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ criteria for all food and beverage products are necessary to guide consumers towards healthier choices.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024